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ADHERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE SLAVERY CONVENTION,
SIGNED AT GENEVA, SEPTEMBER 25, 1926 47
550.48 B 1/67
The Secretary General of the League of Nations (Drummond) to the
Secretary of State C.L.48(6).1927.VI
Geneva, May 19, 1927.
[Received June 13.] SIR: The Assembly of the League of Nations, at its Seventh Ordinary Session, approved a Slavery Convention bearing the date of the 25th September, 1926, which is deposited in the archives of the League of Nations.
By Article 11 of the Convention the Secretary-General of the League is requested to "bring the present Convention to the notice of States which have not signed it, including States which are not Members of the League of Nations, and invite them to accede thereto”.
I have accordingly the honour to enclose a certified copy of the Convention, and to invite the attention of the United States Government to the third paragraph of the above-mentioned Article which provides that “a State desiring to accede to the Convention shall notify its intention in writing to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations and transmit to him the instrument of accession, which shall be deposited in the archives of the League”.
I may add that the Secretariat will be glad to give every assistance in its power to your Government as regards the necessary formalities in connection with the deposit of its act of accession to the Convention. I have [etc.]
550,48 B 1/110a
The Secretary of State to President Coolidge THE PRESIDENT: The undersigned, the Secretary of State, has the honor to lay before the President, with a view to its transmission to the Senate to receive the advice and consent of that body to accession by this Government, if his judgment approve thereof, a certified copy of the Slavery Convention signed at Geneva on September 25, 1926.48
There are thirty-six signatories to the Slavery Convention which has been ratified or acceded to by Australia, Austria, Belgium, the British Empire, Bulgaria, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Haiti, Hun
" For previous correspondence concerning the slavery convention, see Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. I, pp. 247 ff.
gary, India, Latvia, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and the Sudan.
The Convention was not signed on behalf of the United States. On May 19, 1927, however, the Secretary General of the League of Nations addressed a note to the Government of the United States in accordance with Article 11 of the Convention which provides that the Secretary General shall bring the Convention to the notice of States which have not signed it, including States which are not members of the League of Nations, and invite them to accede thereto.
In Article 11 of the Convention signed at St. Germain-en-Laye on September 10, 1919,49 Revising the General Act of Berlin of February 26, 1885, and the General Act and Declaration of Brussels of July 2, 1890, the Contracting Parties agreed that they would endeavor to secure the complete suppression of slavery in all its forms and of the slave trade by land and sea. The United States is a Party to the General Act of Brussels of July 2, 1890, for the Repression of the African Slave Trade 50 and is a signatory of but has not ratified the Revising Convention of September 10, 1919.
The purpose of the Convention herewith submitted is to find a means for giving practical effect throughout the world to the intention of the Contracting Parties to suppress the slave trade and slavery as expressed in respect of certain territories in Africa in the international Acts of earlier date. It embraces an undertaking on their part to take appropriate measures in their respective territories to carry out this intention and likewise to take all necessary measures to prevent compulsory or enforced labor from developing into conditions analogous to slavery.
By a provision in Article 3 the High Contracting Parties undertake to negotiate as soon as possible a general convention with regard to the slave trade, which will give them rights and impose upon them duties of the same nature as those provided for in certain Articles of the Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and in Implements of War, signed at Geneva on June 17, 1925.51 The latter Convention was submitted to the Senate by the President on January 12, 1926, with a view to receiving the advice and consent of that body to ratification, but has not yet been acted upon by the Senate.
Articles 7, 10, 11 and 12 of the Slavery Convention contain certain references to the League of Nations. Under Article 7, the parties to the Convention undertake to communicate to the Secretary General
of the League of Nations any laws and regulations which they may enact with a view to the application of the provisions of the Convention; Article 10 provides that notices of denunciation of the Convention shall be given in writing to the Secretary General of the League of Nations who will communicate certified copies to other parties; Article 11 provides that States desiring to accede to the Convention shall transmit their instruments of accession to the Secretary General, that they shall be deposited in the archives of the League, and that the Secretary General shall transmit certified copies to the other Parties to the Convention. Article 12 provides that instruments of ratification of the Convention shall be deposited in the office of the Secretary General. As the functions exercised by the Secretary General of the League of Nations under these Articles are merely those of a depository and of a transmitting agency, it is not considered that it would be necessary that accession to the Convention by the United States be made subject to a reservation indicating the position of this Government with respect to the League. If, however, the Senate should consider that a reservation on this point is desirable one might be made.
Considering that the purposes sought to be attained by the Slavery Convention are in accord with modern thought and humane measures
aken by civilized peoples with a view to the suppression of slavery and conditions analogous to slavery, it is believed that the United States should cooperate with other powers in the effort to eradicate these evils throughout the world, and that its cooperation might well be expressed through accession to the Convention. Accordingly, it is recommended that, if this course meets with approval, the Senate be requested to take suitable action advising and consenting to accession on the part of the United States to the Slavery Convention of September 25, 1926.52 Respectfully submitted,
FRANK B. KELLOGG WASHINGTON, May 22, 1928.
Treaty Series No. 778
Slavery Convention Signed at Geneva, September 25, 1926 53 Albania, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Union of South Africa, the
"On May 22, 1928, President Coolidge submitted to the Senate the above recommendation by the Secretary of State, together with the convention, and stated: “I concur in the recommendation by the Secretary of State." See Congressional Record, Feb. 25, 1929, vol. 70, p. 4237.
" In English and French ; French text not printed. Adherence advised by the Senate, with reservation, Feb. 25, 1929; adherence declared by the President, Mar. 1, 1929; declaration of adherence of the United States deposited at Geneva, Mar. 21, 1929; proclaimed by the President, Mar. 23, 1929.
Dominion of New Zealand, and India, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Abyssinia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Norway, Panama, the Netherlands, Persia, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and Uruguay,
Whereas the signatories of the General Act of the Brussels Conference of 1889–90 declared that they were equally animated by the firm intention of putting an end to the traffic in African slaves;
Whereas the signatories of the Convention of Saint-Germain-enLaye of 1919 to revise the General Act of Berlin of 1885 and the General Act and Declaration of Brussels of 1890 affirmed their intention of securing the complete suppression of slavery in all its forms and of the slave trade by land and sea;
Taking into consideration the report of the Temporary Slavery Commission appointed by the Council of the League of Nations on June 12th, 1924;
Desiring to complete and extend the work accomplished under the Brussels Act and to find a means of giving practical effect throughout the world to such intentions as were expressed in regard to slave trade and slavery by the signatories of the Convention of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and recognising that it is necessary to conclude to that end more detailed arrangements than are contained in that Convention;
Considering, moreover, that it is necessary to prevent forced labour from developing into conditions analogous to slavery,
Have decided to conclude a Convention and have accordingly appointed as their Plenipotentiaries:
[Here follows list of names of plenipotentiaries.]
Who, having communicated their full powers, have agreed as follows:
ARTICLE 1 For the purpose of the present Convention, the following definitions are agreed upon :
(1) Slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.
(2) The slave trade includes all acts involved in the capture, acquisition or disposal of a person with intent to reduce him to slavery; all acts involved in the acquisition of a slave with a view to selling or exchanging him; all acts of disposal by sale or exchange of a slave acquired with a view to being sold or exchanged, and, in general, every act of trade or transport in slaves.
The High Contracting Parties undertake, each in respect of the territories placed under its sovereignty, jurisdiction, protection, suzerainty or tutelage, so far as they have not already taken the necessary steps:
(a) To prevent and suppress the slave trade;
(6) To bring about, progressively and as soon as possible, the complete abolition of slavery in all its forms.
The High Contracting Parties undertake to adopt all appropriate measures with a view to preventing and suppressing the embarkation, disembarkation and transport of slaves in their territorial waters and upon all vessels flying their respective flags.
The High Contracting Parties undertake to negotiate as soon as possible a general Convention with regard to the slave trade which will give them rights and impose upon them duties of the same nature as those provided for in the Convention of June 17th, 1925, relative to the International Trade in Arms (Articles 12, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of Section II of Annex II), with the necessary adaptations, it being understood that this general Convention will not place the ships (even of small tonnage) of any High Contracting Parties in a position different from that of the other High Contracting Parties.
It is also understood that, before or after the coming into force of this general Convention, the High Contracting Parties are entirely free to conclude between themselves, without, however, derogating from the principles laid down in the preceding paragraph, such special agreements as, by reason of their peculiar situation, might appear to be suitable in order to bring about as soon as possible the complete disappearance of the slave trade.
The High Contracting Parties shall give to one another every assistance with the object of securing the abolition of slavery and the slave trade.
The High Contracting Parties recognise that recourse to compulsory or forced labour may have grave consequences and undertake, each in respect of the territories placed under its sovereignty, jurisdiction, protection, suzerainty or tutelage, to take ali necessary measures to prevent compulsory or forced labour from developing into conditions analogous to slavery.
It is agreed that:
(1) Subject to the transitional provisions laid down in paragraph (2) below, compulsory or forced labour may only be exacted for public purposes.