No. 433 NAI DFA Unregistered Papers

Telegraphic summary of a speech by John A. Costello on the codification of international law

Geneva, 29 September 1930

In the discussion which took place at Geneva on the 29th on the Hague Codification Conference, the Irish Free State Delegation submitted a resolution proposing the appointment by the Council of the League of a Committee which would study the methods, the procedure and the policy which should be followed in all future Codification of International Law.

Mr. Costello, the Attorney General, speaking on behalf of the Irish Delegation urged that the adoption of the resolution which had been submitted by the British, French, German, Italian and Greek Delegations would have the effect of shelving the important work of Codification for the present. The Attorney General in moving the Irish resolution said that it was vital that efforts for Codification should not be relaxed, but rather that steps should be taken in order to ensure that the methods adopted were those most likely to achieve success. The Committee which he proposed would consider what these methods were and in doing so should take account of the principle that as Codification must necessarily involve the creation of new rules of International law, the experts concerned with this work should be subject to political guidance at every stage. He suggested, therefore, the establishment of a body on the lines of the Committee on Arbitration and Security, consisting of legal experts acting in a political as well as a legal capacity. This body would do all preparatory work including the drawing up of the various Codes. He further suggested that the procedure followed in connection with the adoption and throwing open to signature of the General Act might well be adopted in connection with the Codes drawn up by the proposed Preparatory Committee.

The justification for the Irish resolution was furnished by the Resolution submitted by the British, French, German, Italian and Greek Delegations. The Irish Delegation was opposed to the proposal to shelve efforts at Codification and objected to the suggestion made in the Joint Resolution that it was not for the League to formulate rules binding on States as part of customary International Law.

Finally the Attorney General said that the Irish Delegation aimed at doing something and doing it at once while the Joint Resolution submitted by the British, French, German, Italian and Greek Delegations, proposed that nothing should be done. (The speech of the Attorney General was very warmly applauded.)

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