No. 553 NAI DT S4040B

Extract from a memorandum by the Department of External Affairs on The General Act for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes

Dublin, 11 June 1931

[matter omitted]

5. We are committed to acceptance of the General Act and it is felt that our acceptance of the Act should be an acceptance of the Act as a whole. An acceptance covering only Chaps. I and IV, or even Chaps. I, II and IV, of the Act would constitute only a very small addition to our existing obligations under the Optional Clause, the League Covenant and the Kellogg Pact and would accord very ill with the policy which the Irish Free State has uniformly adopted at Geneva in connection with these matters.

6. The British made their accession to the General Act subject to reservations similar to those attached to their acceptance of the Optional Clause. We have definitely informed the British that we do not propose to adopt these reservations in the case of our accession. The question remains whether we should make any of the reservations allowed by the Act. After full consideration of this question, it is submitted that our accession should be made without any reservations whatsoever.

7. The Optional Clause is not a Heads-of-States agreement and we have always held that non-Heads-of-States agreements apply between the Members of the Commonwealth in the absence of an express provision preventing them from doing so. Accession to the General Act, however, must be made by 'Heads-of-States or other competent authorities'. It is considered that this phrase must be taken to mean that our accession must be made in the name of the King. It might then be objected that, since Heads-of-States agreements do not apply inter se, we would surrender the position we maintained in the case of the Optional Clause by acceding to Chap. II of the General Act in the name of the King. This argument, however, is rather theoretical and it is felt that it can be countered by reference to Art. 29(2) of the General Act which provides that the Act shall not affect any agreements at present in force.

8. It is proposed, therefore, (1) to accede to all four chapters of the General Act, (2) without reservations, (3) in the name of the King, (4) in the form shown in Annex A hereto.1

9. To this end, the authority of the Executive Council is sought for the submission of the General Act for approval to both Houses of the Oireachtas and, subject to this approval, for accession to the General Act being made on the conditions specified in paragraph 8 above.

1 Not printed.

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