No. 343 NAI DT S5715

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Diarmuid O'Hegarty (Dublin)

Dublin, 17 February 1930

The subjects to be discussed at the First Conference for the Codification of International Law are as follows:-

(1) Nationality;
(2) Territorial Waters; and
(3) Responsibility of States for damage done in their territory to the persons and property of foreigners.

We have a special interest in any proposal to codify international law on the subject of nationality. The introduction of a Citizenship Bill into the Oireachtas cannot be very much longer delayed, having regard to the Report of the London Conference of last year, which has just been published. At the Imperial Conference of 1926 we suggested that a number of the nationality questions then considered should be postponed until the Codification Conference, now to be held, had completed its labours. We are vitally interested in the question of the acquisition and loss of nationality and the right of each State to regulate such acquisition and loss, and that is the first question set for the Conference by the Preparatory Committee established by the Council of the League (Resolution of the 28th September, 1927) to prepare the ground. Amongst the other questions to be discussed are those relating to statelessness, dual nationality, and the effect of marriage and the dissolution of marriage upon nationality. We have already contributed to discussions in London on those subjects and taken a definite point of view. The whole question of the status of our nationals abroad is one of first rate importance, and the issues of diplomatic protection of nationals and the relationships between States with regard to nationality law concern us fundamentally at the present time. For that reason, an active and well-informed Irish Free State delegation would appear to be essential at the forthcoming Conference.

The territorial waters of the Irish Free State were the subject of an Inter-Departmental Inquiry here some years ago when a useful Report was prepared. Our chief interest in the subject of territorial waters generally is not, I think, concerned with a definition of the jurisdictional belt of the seas adjacent to the Irish Free State, but rather with the question of the coastal fisheries. All our fisheries are coastal and, in a memorandum prepared by the British in connection with the forthcoming Conference, it is suggested that as little as possible of the surface of the sea should be closed for fishery purposes during peace time. This proposal and a proposal in connection with the measurement of bays contained in the same memorandum raise issues of vital importance to the fishing industry of this country. These proposals are directly inimical to our interests, and very definite modifications would have to be moved if the British - as no doubt they will - should make them at the Codification Conference. The attendance of an officer of the Department of Fisheries at the conference, either as a delegate or an adviser, would be most desirable, as the questions to be discussed by the Territorial Waters Commission raise those special problems for us already referred to, with which only an expert who is familiar with our fisheries requirements and the geographical configuration of our coastline could adequately deal.

Our interest in the Responsibility of States for damage done in their territory to the persons and property of foreigners is largely, but by no means entirely, academic; but our becoming parties to any convention which the Conference may succeed in preparing would add to our international stature by emphasising that characteristic or note called Responsibility, which is so important a distinguishing feature of the full international person in the post-war organisation of the world. In this connection, it is relevant to observe that the entire question of the juridical basis of international responsibility will come up for discussion. 'It seems right,' says the Request for Information addressed to the Governments, 'to take as the point of departure the proposition that recognition of a political unit as a member of the community governed by international law indicates that the States by which it is recognised assume that such unit will conform to certain standards of organisation and behaviour, and will obey the standards and rules which in general govern the conduct of States'. And again: 'It will follow that (a) a political unit which declines to admit the obligation to conform to those standards and to obey these rules cannot claim to be considered as a Member of the community governed by international law'.

(Signed) J. P. Walshe

1 Document initialled at this point by John J. Hearne (J.J.H.).

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