Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons: Summary Record of the Twenty-first Meeting
|Brazil||Mr. de OLIVEIRA|
|Federal Republic of Germany||Mr. von TRÜTZSCHLER|
|The Holy See||Mr. LANCTOT|
|Italy||Mr. del DRAGO|
|Netherlands||Baron van BOETZELAER|
|Switzerland (and Liechtenstein)||Mr. SCHÜRCH|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||Mr. HOARE|
|United States of America||Mr. WARREN|
|High Commissioner for Refugees||Mr. van HEUVEN GOEDHART|
|Representatives of specialized agencies and of other inter-governmental organizations:|
|International Labour Organisation||Mr. WOLF|
|International Refugee Organization||Mr. STEPHENS, Mr. SCHNITZER|
|Council of Europe||Mr. Taliani de MARCHIO|
|Representatives of non-governmental organizations:|
|International Confederation of Free Trade Unions||Miss SENDER|
|Category B and Register|
|Caritas Internationalis||Mr. BRAUN, Mr. METTERNICH|
|Commission of the Churches on International Affairs||Mr. REES|
|Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations||Mr. MEYROWITZ|
|Co-ordinating board of Jewish Organisations||Mr. WARBURG|
|Friends World Committee for Consultation||Mr. BELL|
|International Council of Women||Mrs. FIECHTER|
|International Federation of Friends of Young Women||Mrs. FIECHTER|
|Pax Romana||Mr. BUENSOD|
|Standing Conference of voluntary Agencies||Mr. REES|
|World Jewish Congress||Mr. RIEGNER|
|Mr. Kerno||Assistant Secretary-General in Charge of the Department of Legal Affairs|
|Mr. Humphrey||Executive Secretary|
|Miss Kitchen||Deputy Executive Secretary|
CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT CONVENTION ON THE STATUS OF REFUGEES (item 5 (a) of the agenda) (A/CONF.2/1 and Corr.1, A/CONF.2/5 and Corr.1 ) (continued)
Article 1 - Definition of the term "refugee" (A/CONF.2/9, A/CONF.2/13, A/CONF.2/16, A/CONF.2.17, A/CONF.2/27, A/CONF.2/73, A/CONF.2/74, A/CONF.2/75, A/CONF.2/76, A/CONF.2/77) (continued)
The PRESIDENT requested the Conference to resume its discussion of article 1 of the draft Convention.
Mr. del DRAGO (Italy) recalled the statement on article l made by his delegation at the nineteenth meeting, and confirmed its continuing support for the French proposal that the words " in Europe" should be reinstated in the definition of the term "refugee". All previous international instruments concluded on behalf of refugees had been couched and conceived in respect of those European countries, of which Italy was one, that had first been affected by the problem and made sacrifices to help relieve it. The proposed geographical restriction was essential, for the net result of trying to aid all might well be that help would be given to none.
The Italian Government had always maintained that responsibility for refugees was an international responsibility. None the less it had only last year undertaken responsibility for some 9,000 refugees under the Supplementary Agreement with the International Refugee Organization - quite apart from the hundred thousand or so clandestine refugees with which the Italian economy was burdened. The termination of the activities of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) now implied a possible financial burden of unknown dimensions, which might become extremely onerous if a country in Italy's position had to assume obligations for refugees from all countries of the world.
While paying tribute to the French attitude and recognizing France's position in the refugee field, he nevertheless emphasized that account should also be taken of the Italian point of view, for Italy was, so to speak, a bridge over which many refugees had to pass, and a country in which not a few found it convenient to settle.
The Italian Constitution guaranteed the right of asylum to anyone who chose to claim it, irrespective of race or religion, and quite apart from all international obligations in the matter. If refugees in Italy did not enjoy all the rights provided for in the draft Convention, it was nevertheless true that some 100,000 refugees were living and prospering in that country. That being so, and since the difference between the two schools of thought in the Conference was theoretical rather than practical, the Italian delegation would support any proposals capable of reconciling the opposing views and hence leading to an early solution acceptable to all concerned.
Mr. MAKIEDO (Yugoslavia) said that in the opinion of the Yugoslav delegation the most important question was whether the benefits of the Convention should be limited to certain categories of refugees, or whether a step forward was to be taken in the field of the protection of refugees. A limitation by categories would leave without protection a number of persons who had been forced to leave their country of origin and seek asylum elsewhere; in this view, such an arrangement would not be in accordance with the principles either of the Charter of the United Nations or of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Limitation of the application of the Convention to persons who had become refugees as a result of events which had occurred prior to 1 January 1951 would have the effect of rendering the instrument static in character, and would take no account of persons who became refugees later, an early solution to whose problem would not be easy to find. In the view of the Yugoslav delegation there was no justification for any such restriction, for restriction implied discrimination.
It would be clear from what he had said that his delegation opposed the French proposal that the words " in Europe" should be re-introduced into the definition. On the contrary, he supported the Egyptian amendment (A/CONF.2/13), although it would be unnecessary if the Yugoslav amendment (A/CONF.2/16), which was broad and general in character, was adopted. He welcomed the spirit of co-operation that had prompted the Swiss proposal, but doubted whether it would prove generally acceptable, for its adoption would introduce an enormous disparity between the obligations of the various Contracting Parties, and would bewilder refugees, who would find that they were considered as refugees only in certain States. Although itself proposing a general definition including all present and future refugees, the Yugoslav delegation would like to make it clear that a definition which failed to make provision for justified exceptions would not be acceptable to the Yugoslav Government. The provisions of the Convention should not apply to a person who had committed any of the crimes specified in Article 14 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or in article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal. The text proposed by his delegation, he believed, would best serve the interests of refugees and the purposed of the Convention.
Mr. ROCHEFORT (France) thought that some of the statement made at the preceding meeting had been due to a mutual misunderstanding. The French delegation had gathered that the instructions it had received from the French Government had been challenged or strongly criticized. It was because he had interpreted the Belgian representative's statement in that sense that he had reacted somewhat sharply. If his interpretation had been faulty, he was prepared to withdraw his statement, and could assure the Belgian representative that his most earnest desire was to avoid any misunderstanding between France and Belgium, countries which, so far as refugees were concerned, had to face the same problems and which pursued the same ideal.
Mr. HERMENT (Belgium) said that he had re-read the text of the statement he had made at the preceding meeting, and also the whole of the text of the French representative's reply. He had sought in vain in his own statement for any hint of the charge of "egotism" which he was thought to have made against France. On the contrary, he had paid tribute to the proverbial generosity of that country. He had never suggested that the French representative was not speaking in the name of France. He failed to understand, therefore, how the misunderstanding could have arisen and how remarks which he had not made could have been attributed to him.
He now understood that the French representative was withdrawing the statements he (Mr. Rochefort) had made at the preceding meeting. He thanked him for doing so, and would report accordingly to his Government at once.
Speaking at the invitation of the PRESIDENT, Mr. MEYROWITZ (Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations) said that, in claiming the privilege which was recognized by the Charter, and which had so generously been granted, of a non-governmental organization to address the Conference, he would like to mention first that he was authorized to speak not only on behalf of his own Organization, but also on behalf of two other non-governmental organizations represented at the Conference, namely, the World Jewish Congress and the Co-ordinating Board of Jewish Organizations. Furthermore, in speaking to the amendment introduced by the delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany, which sought to delete from article 1, paragraph E, the reference to the Status of the International Military Tribunal, he must assure the Conference that he was not actuated by resentment. His sole concern was to draw the attention of the Conference to the vital importance of the decision it had to take. The importance of that decision went far beyond the scope of the Convention which the Conference had been convened to prepare. The substance of the decision which the amendment submitted by the delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany invited the Conference to take did not come within the field of contractual law, but was a matter of general international law. In view of that proposal and also perhaps in view of the fact that several of the representatives present came from countries not Members of the United Nations, it might not come amiss to describe the procedure by which the Charter of the International Military Tribunal had become - if it had not already been so at the time when it had been drafted - part of the body of general international law.
The London Agreement of 8 August 1945, a convention concluded by the Governments of France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as the Charter of the International Military Tribunal annexed to that Agreement, and confirmed and ratified fourteen months later by the judgement of the International Military Tribunal, had been the first concrete expression of a set of rules of international law which simply crystallized the convictions of world public opinion as to what was the law. Following the conclusion of the London Agreement, nineteen other States members of the United Nations had acceded to that instrument. A number of other governments, though not parties to the London Agreement, were parties to the Charter of the International Military Tribunal in the Far East, which had adopted the fundamental rules contained in the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal. In Germany, in December 1945, the Control Council had enacted Law No..10 on the punishment of persons guilty of war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. That law had reproduced almost word for word the fundamental rules laid down in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal.
The circumstances in which those rules of law had arisen made them ad hoc laws - special laws relating solely to the crimes committed by Germans or Japanese during the Second World War. Their restricted nature had been inevitable at the outset, and in no way detracted from their justice; though it might in time have become a redhibitory defect. From being personal, special and temporary, those newly-evolved rules of law had had to be transformed into impersonal, general and permanent rules. That rounding off of international law had taken place in two stages. On 11 December, 1946, the General Assembly of the United Nations had unanimously adopted a resolution (95 (I)) in which it had affirmed " the principles of international law recognized by the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal and the judgement of the Tribunal". At its Second session, the General Assembly had decided to entrust to the International Law Commission the "formulation of the principles of international law recognized in the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal and in the judgement of the Tribunal". (General Assembly resolution 177 (II)).
In 1950, the International Law Commission had completed its task of formulating the Nürnberg Principles. Though a minority in that already illustrious body had considered that some of the principles laid down in the Charter and Judgement of the International Military Tribunal had not yet been international law at the time when the Charter had appeared, every single member had agreed that they had now become a part of existing international law. Indeed, in the Code of Offences against the Peace and Security of Mankind which it had just prepared at its third session, currently being held in Geneva, the International Law Commission had used word for word the provisions of article of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, which the amendment (A/CONF.2/76) submitted by the Federal Republic of Germany now sought to delete.
Since the principles known under the accepted title of "The Nürnberg Principles" were part of general international law, the formal accession or non-accession of the German Federal Government would in no way affect either their existence or their purport - particularly in view of the fact that the German delegation accepted the substance of article 6.
It might be asked whether the reference to article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal involved discrimination. Undoubtedly it did - it discriminated against crime, against a type of crime without parallel in history. But the discrimination was directed against the crimes alone, and not against the nation by whose nationals those crimes had been committed. The reference was merely to article 6 of that Charter, which defined the acts constituting such crimes. It did not refer either to the persons or to the nationality of the criminals. That was why it had been possible to reproduce the article textually both in the general, impersonal statement of the Nürnberg Principles, and in the text of the Code of Offences against the Peace and Security of Mankind drawn up by the International Law Commission. He was sure that the German delegation was ready to subscribe to both the substance and the form of that definition. Its only objection was to the way in which the definition was referred to in article 1, paragraph E, of the Draft Convention on the Status of Refugees. Possibly a drafting change was that was required. He would suggest one: ".... that he has committed an act constituting a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity, as defined in article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal". In any event, it seemed essential to retain in that completely general, impersonal and permanent form the explicit reference to the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, from which the definition of those crimes had been taken. It was all the more necessary to retain the reference, because chronologically and logically its proper place was in article 1 of the draft Convention. The Conference would undoubtedly limit the definition of a refugee in time, and might also limit it in space, basing it on "events occurring in Europe before 1 January, 1951". Were not the crimes which had led to the drafting of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal the most important of those events?
Moreover, article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal was mentioned in the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, in the definition of the High Commissioner's competence ratione personae, thus constituting a further example of the General Assembly's intention to stress the permanent nature of the Nürnberg Principles. The deletion of the reference at the present time would not, of course, affect the crystallization of the principles as a set of rules of general international law; but it would be taken as a mark of disapproval of those principles and as a denial of their validity. According to article 1 of the draft Convention, a large proportion of the refugees covered by the Convention had most definitely been victims of the crimes defined in article 6 of the Charter of the Tribunal. To delete the express reference to that article would be to risk creating the impression that the Conference had intended to pardon crimes which had not been forgotten by world public opinion, and which were so atrocious as to be unpardonable.
The purpose of the amendment was to replace the reference to article 6 of the London Charter by a reference to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and to the Convention on Genocide. But the Geneva Conventions of 1949 applied only to war international or civil - and, in fact, only to future war. In the same way, the Convention on Genocide referred only to future acts. Moreover, neither the Geneva Conventions nor the Convention on Genocide possessed the solid foundation which the jurisprudence of the International Military Tribunal, and other tribunals which had applied the provisions of article 6 of the Nürnberg Charter, conferred on the "Nürnberg Principles". In spite of the immense progress they represented in humanitarian achievement, the Geneva Conventions had still expressly recognized only the responsibility of Contracting states not that of individuals. None of them, Not even the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, article 147 of which was referred to in the German amendment, covered crimes against humanity committed, except in the case of civil war, against civilian populations as such. A whole category of Nazi Criminals, including the worst of them, were thus excluded from the definition given in article 147. Some of those criminals were still at liberty. No doubt they were not to be found in the territory of any of the countries represented at the Conference, and no doubt if they returned to Germany they would be prosecuted and punished under German law. But they could, nevertheless, while in the territory of another Contracting State, claim protection under the Convention at present being prepared by the Conference, provided they had not committed any war crimes against nationals of that State.
He apologized for having perhaps presumed too much on the hospitality of the Conference in making so long a statement, but it had been a matter of duty and of conscience.
Mr. ROCHEFORT (France) wished to ask the High Commissioner for Refugees four questions regarding the interpretation to be placed on the wording of the draft Convention. In the first place, did the High Commissioner consider that refugees to whom paragraph C of article 1 applied, would automatically receive the advantages conferred by the Convention, without the latter having been modified by the will of the Contracting States, when such refugees ceased to receive the assistance which was at present being given to them by certain organs and agencies of the United Nations?
Secondly, in view of the fact that the Convention did not govern entry, which was still dependent on the sovereign will of States, one might wonder to what extent the limiting date of 1 January 1951 would circumscribe the obligations of states, thus restricting the generous scope of the text.
He understood, incidentally, that, in the High Commissioner's opinion, the retention of the above limiting date would facilitate the accession of certain governments, and that it would, therefore, be more realistic, and in the interest of the refugees themselves, to retain it so as to make the Convention more generally acceptable. He wished to know if that was really the High Commissioner's opinion.
Finally, in view of the attitude taken by the Latin American countries, as revealed by the statements they had made at the Conference, did it not appear that those countries would have some difficulty in acceding to the Convention if, by signing it, they would contract towards refugees from adjoining countries for whom they had special legislation, the same obligations as those they were willing to accept in the case of European refugees?
The meeting was suspended at 10.30 a.m. and was resumed at 10.45 a.m.
Mr. van HEUVEN GOEDHART (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said that the interpretation he was about to place to on paragraph C would be a personal one. It would be noted that, whereas in paragraph C of article 1 of the draft Convention reference was made to "persons who are at present receiving .... protection or assistance", the parallel clause in the Status of his Office referred to refugees "who continue to receive...". That difference in wording implied a difference in consequences. He supported the United Kingdom interpretation of paragraph C, and considered that, the Egyptian amendment apart, a specific act would be required to bring the persons referred to in paragraph C within the scope of the Convention when the protection and assistance at present being afforded by the organs and agencies of the United Nations ceased.
With regard to the date 1 January 1951, he recalled the Ad hoc Committee's decision to set aside the solution whereby all refugees, irrespective of the date of the events which caused them to become refugees would be covered by the Convention, on the grounds that it would be difficult for governments to sign, as it were, a blank cheque by undertaking obligations in respect of refugees the future numbers of whom would be unknown. He, of course, fully agreed with the French representative that the Convention should cover persons who became refugees after 1 January 1951 as a result of events which had occurred before that date.
As to the French representative's third question, he confirmed what he had said in his opening statement, namely, that, while he would like to see the Convention drafted to cover as many refugees as possible, he nevertheless appreciated how difficult it would be for governments to provide what the Ad hoc Committee had described as a blank cheque, and he considered that the retention of the limiting date would facilitate the accession of certain governments.
On the question of the position of Latin American countries, he felt that he had not had sufficient time to go into all the agreements between Latin American countries, or into their constitutional arrangements relating to refugees. No doubt the representatives of Latin American countries present would be more qualified than he to reply to that question.
He would add that as the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees contained neither dateline nor geographical restriction, the categories of refugees dealt with sub-paragraph 6 of paragraph B of article 1 of the draft Convention would be covered by the Statute.
Mr. GIRALDO-JAMARILLO (Colombia) recalled that in Latin America the term "refugee" was applied only to European refugees. When the Government of Colombia had decided to send a plenipotentiary representative to the Conference, it had done so with the intention of contributing to the work being done by the United Nations on behalf of European refugees, and had certainly not imagined that the Conference would attempt to solve the problem of Latin American refugees which, in fact, was non-existent. The remarks of the French representative raised an important issue, as, in view of the numerous conventions which had been concluded between the Latin American countries, granting territorial asylum to political refugees, certain States from that region might find it difficult to accede to the Convention unless it was duly limited in terms of time and space. Article 1 was the cornerstone on which the entire edifice of the Convention rested. It should, therefore, be clear, precise and limited, so as to facilitate the practical application of the Convention. The Conference had decided to restrict that article in terms of time. Hence, it was logical to apply the same limitation in terms of space, and the Colombian delegation, being fully convinced of the necessity for that limitation, wished to re-affirm its support for the French amendment.
The PRESIDENT observed that some delegations favoured the broad definition, so that, a priori, they would presumably be able to accept the narrow definition. Those delegations which supported the narrow definition did so either because they believed that their governments could not commit themselves beyond that limit, or in the hope that a narrow definition would enable that greatest possible number of States to adhere to the convention. He would not like to see a government which preferred the broad definition refuse to accept the narrow definition, for he wished to see as many governments as possible signing the Convention. He therefore urged that an attempt should be made to find a compromise solution, preferably along the lines of the Swiss proposal. Moreover, rather than see the matter put to the vote at that stage he would suggest that the delegations most concerned in the matter should meet together informally with a view to arriving at such a compromise solution capable of commanding universal support.
Mr. WARREN (United States of America) was not convinced that the stage had been reached when a drafting committee or informal meetings would be helpful, for support appeared to be equally divided between the narrow and the broad definitions.
It seemed to him unfortunate that those who supported the French amendment should have been placed in an invidious position, which he was sure they felt keenly. It was a question, not so much of a narrow or of a broad definition, or of generosity of or the lack thereof, but rather of the best means of dealing with the situation. Apart from that, he had noted certain inconsistencies in the arguments advanced by the representatives of the governments and of the non-governmental organizations that were opposed to the French proposal. The representatives of the non-governmental organizations had argued that millions of persons would be excluded from the benefits of the Convention if the French proposal was adopted, and that a large number still in countries signatories to the Convention would have only sub-refugee status. He found it difficult to reconcile such statements with the arguments of the governments representatives to the effect that, from a geographical point of view, the countries of Europe would not be affected by the adoption of the broad definition.
It must be recognized, however, that so far as the exclusion of the so-called millions was concerned, nothing was known of where they were or of their condition. It was true that there were still millions of refugees on German territory, but they were taken care of by paragraph D of article 1, as were also the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey, and the millions in India and Pakistan. Similarly, paragraph C of article 1 took care of the hundreds of thousands of Arab refugees from Palestine. So far as he could see, the situation with regard to refugees in the Far East was still obscure, and very little was known of those from continental China in particular. On the whole, therefore, it would be unrealistic for the Conference to attempt to legislate for refugees in the Far East.
As to refugees, both present and future, arriving in central and western Europe from eastern European lands, he considered that, having regard to the terms of the draft Convention and the observations of the High Commission for Refugees, the non-governmental organizations need have no fear that such refugees would not be covered by the present text.
He would repeat that the Convention had been drafted primarily in order to make possible a satisfactory life for refugees in Europe, the wording of most of the articles having been adapted to European legislation and conditions. He recalled the emphasis placed by the Egyptian representative on the difference between Middle East refugees and European refugees, and submitted that the difficulty of applying to refugees in other parts of the world, where conditions were totally different, a Convention specifically drafted to meet European needs, could not be ignored. The Conference should conceive its objective as the preparation of an instrument to deal with the specific and immediate problem, and have faith that problems of a similar kind which might crop up in other parts of the world in the future would be adequately taken care of. Finally, he wondered whether the desire for universality could not more readily be given expression in the Statute of the High Commissioner's Office, and whether, in reaching out for something that might be achieved by other by other means, there was not a risk of sacrificing the real benefits obtainable from a convention of more limited application.
The PRESIDENT considered that it would be useful if representatives were to give further thought to the issues over the week-end, the decision on article 1 being deferred until Monday, 16 July.
Mr. van HEUVEN GOEDHART (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said that the United States representative had placed the issue in its proper perspective, and that support for the two different definitions seemed to be fairly equally divided. He himself was very keenly aware of the universal character of him mandate, and was also anxious that the Convention, while covering the greatest possible number of refugees, should at the same time prove acceptable to a large number of States.
He believed that the compromise proposal made at the preceding meeting by the Swiss representative might provide a way out of the difficulty, and that existing differences might be reconciled if States which were unable to accept article 1 without the reinstatement of the words " in Europe" were permitted to enter a reservation in respect of that article. At the same time, governments which preferred the present text would, by accepting it, accept, at least in theory, a wider definition of the term " refugees". Such a compromise would benefit refugees, and would offer a reasonable arrangement for those countries which felt that they must make a reservation on the subject. Article 36 provided for such a procedure. Of Course, the solution was not ideal, and he would prefer all governments to accept the text of article 1 as it stood. But it was desirable that those States which could only accept the definition if it contained the words " in Europe" should nevertheless be enabled to sign the Convention.
Baron van BOETZELAER (Netherlands) recalled that the Netherlands Government had not been represented in the Ad hoc Committee, but that at the fifth session of the General Assembly, the Netherlands delegation had had occasion to advocate, principally on humanitarian grounds, the widest possible applications of the Convention. Furthermore, he could not but appreciate the difficulties which might arise if a country had to deal with two groups of refugees, one of which was covered by the Convention and the other not.
He would also point out that the General Assembly's decision on the definition of the term "refugee" had been taken with the active support of other governments members of IRO, for instance, those of Belgium and the United Kingdom. It was consequently incorrect to claim that all the countries represented in IRO were in favour of the more restricted definition.
As to the future, while his Government's consistent attitude towards the problem impelled him to agree with the point of view expressed by the United Kingdom representative, he was in a conciliatory spirit, prepared to accept the compromise procedure suggested by the Swiss representative, and supported by the High Commissioner for Refugees. He would therefore vote for any amendment introduced to that effect.
Mr. PETREN (Sweden) said that the Swedish Government had been prepared to accept the original text of article 1. However, he fully appreciated the French Government's position, a position that was the more deserving of consideration in view of the fact that France had played a leading role as a country of asylum, and had a noble tradition of work on behalf of refugees. Although he would have been prepared on those grounds to vote in favour of the French amendment, he welcomed the suggestion made by the Swiss representative and endorsed by the High Commissioner, which he would support.
Mr. von TRÜTZSCHLER (Federal Republic of Germany) said that his Government's position was similar to that of the Swedish Government. Although he accordingly had not objections to the definition set forth in paragraph A of article 1, he was convinced that for practical reasons it was essential to secure the French Government's accession to the Convention in the near future. He had also been greatly impressed by the able exposition of the United States representative. In the light of the foregoing considerations, he, too, would support the compromise solution put forward by the Swiss representative.
Mr. HOEG (Denmark) stated that the Danish Government's position was identical with that of the Governments of Sweden and the Federal Republic of Germany. Although, from a humanitarian point of view, the Danish Government would have preferred the original text of article 1, the adoption of the French amendment would not prevent it from signing the Convention.
Mr. SHAW (Australia) recalled the facts that the Australian Government, too, had not been represented in the Ad hoc Committee, and that, since it was chiefly interested in certain special aspects of the problem, it had not submitted any drastic amendments to the Convention.
The arguments put forward by the United States representative had convinced him that it would be wise to make the definition more explicit. He was therefore prepared to support the French amendment on the grounds that countries should not, to use a vernacular expression, be asked to buy a pig in a poke.
Mr. ARFF (Norway) said that the Norwegian Government's position was identical with that of the Governments of Denmark and Sweden. It had been prepared to accede to the Convention with article 1 and paragraph 1 of article 36 unchanged. Hence, the Norwegian Government would find it difficult to vote for the French amendment, and would consequently prefer the compromise solution suggested by Swiss representative. In the final analysis, of course, a convention amended to meet the French Government's point of view would be preferable to one which failed to command the accession of any appreciable number of Governments.
Mr. ROCHEFORT (France) explained that, owing to the French national holiday on 14 July, he had been unable to get in touch with the French government. While it might to disposed to give favourable consideration to the compromise solution proposed by the representative of Switzerland, he was unable at the present juncture to make any definite pronouncement on that proposal.
The PRESIDENT welcomed the Assistance Secretary-General in charge of the Department of Legal Affairs to the meeting, and called upon him to give the Conference some information about the question of reservations.
Mr. KERNO (Assistant Secretary-General in charge of the Department of Legal Affairs) said that the problem of reservations was somewhat complex. The Secretariat had run up against so many difficulties with the Convention on the Prevention and punishment of the Crime of genocide that it had asked the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly for advice on the subject. The Sixth Committee had been unable to pronounce itself, and had requested both the International Court of Justice and the International Law Commission to give their opinion. Reports from those two bodies were not yet available.
In practice, however, difficulties generally arose out of failure to make provision for reservations in a convention. In the present case, article 36 covered the point. It was generally admitted that the negotiating parties could formulate an article on reservations in any way that they desired. The possibility of entering reservations could be excluded entirely, or could be made applicable to all the provisions of an instrument or to certain articles only. In article 36, the Conference had chosen the last mentioned method by excluding certain articles from reservation. That procedure was perfectly permissible. If article 36 was adopted as drafted, the situation would be perfectly clear.
He had gathered that certain delegations had asked whether permissible reservations should be entered at the time of signature, of ratification or of accession. So far as the last-named procedure was concerned, some misgivings had been expressed on the grounds that States entering reservations on accession would not know what further reservations might be made by other States in the future. According to general practice, and in the view of the International Law Commission, reservations could be entered when States took the appropriate measures to become contracting parties to an instrument. When the process was that of signature and ratification, a reservation made at the time of signature did not become valid unless and until it was re-affirmed at the time of ratification, whether expressly or by inference. In the case of States acceding to an instrument, reservations must be made at the time of accession, since that procedure involved only one démarche. He would submit that the argument that States would not know what future reservations might be made to the convention was irrelevant, because article 36 gave States, so to speak, a blanket authorization to make any reservations they wished, except in respect of certain specific articles.
The PRESIDENT drew attention to paragraph 1 of article 34, in which it was stated that the Convention should be open for signature for one year. That meant that even States signatories could enter reservations which would not be known by other States signatories.
He then announced that he would place on the agenda for the next meeting the second paragraph of article 40, in which reference was made to the official and authentic texts of the convention. It was essential that the question be settled without further delay, in order to enable the Secretariat to take the necessary steps to secure the services of the translators and technical staff required for the preparation of the instrument for signature.
The meeting rose at 11.55 p.m.