No. 629 NAI DFA 27/18A

Letter from Seán Lester to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S. 7/11/40) (Confidential)

Geneva, 29 January 1932


Another long meeting of the Committee of Twelve yesterday considered the President's draft declaration. I enclose a copy.1 This declaration will be shown to both the Chinese and Japanese, but their assent will not be called for. It will be open to any member of the Council who wishes to add independent declarations, but it is specifically stated that the President is speaking on behalf of the twelve.

I propose merely to formally express my agreement with what the President has said. The most interesting part of the declaration is the last dozen lines. Considerable discussion took place on the last sentence. Mr. Marinkovitch urged its elimination on the ground, first, that it had already been stated three times, and, secondly, that it was a condemnation before we had heard the report of the Commission! Lord Cecil dealt with the contradictory nature of the argument and the Spanish representative urged that the form 'it would be impossible for the League to endorse a settlement secured by force in violation of these principles' (Art. 10, etc.) had been the result of compromise and was regarded by the drafting Committee as a minimum. The words 'to recognise' had originally been proposed, for example. I pointed out that while it was necessary for the Council to wait for reports from the Commission before final recommendations for a settlement could be made, no one dreamt for a moment that the Commission could report in a sense contrary to the words used in the last sentence. Mr. Marinkovitch had even said that the words would be 'désobligeants' to the Japanese, but Lord Cecil said that if that were so that it would be certainly no harm. The Japanese had shown themselves more than 'désobligeants', towards the Council, had ignored nearly all its recommendations and had even consistently insulted the Council. You will understand the meeting was a secret one.

When the discussion of the words 'by force' was proceeding, I raised another point. I did not mind using blunt words, but I should like to know if it were agreed that the setting up of a puppet government would be covered by this sentence. The Japanese might very well, and indeed would say, that this government was not set up by force. The Polish Foreign Minister then suggested a slightly different form which was agreed to as follows:

  'Il serait impossible à la Société des Nations d'approuver un règlement obtenu par des moyens allant à l'encontre des obligations qui viennent d'être rappelées'.

[signed] Seán Lester

1 Not printed.

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