Sir HERBERT AMES (St. Antoine):
Mr. Speaker, nine months ago, at the desire of ithe Prime Minister, I went overseas to accept the position of Financial Director of the League of Nations Secretariat. At that time, I knew little of the work or of the conditions under which it was to be carried on. I had read the covenant; I believed in its ideals and as a Canadian was proud of Canada's prompt decision to enter the League, but my action was influenced by faith rather than by sight. I found but little evidence of life. The Treaty was as yet unsigned. The League of Nations was unborn. The prophets of evil on every hand gave little hope of future success. I had a certain amount of foreboding, I will admit, lest I should find myself reaching for a shadow and losing a reality.
But I am here to-night, Mr. Speaker, in an altogether different attitude of mind. The League of Nations is no longer a dream; it is a reality; it has being; it has form; it has organs; it functions. Many difficulties have been overcome; many dangers avoided. There are .still difficulties and dangers in the way but I am to-day convinced that ultimate success is reasonably sure, so convinced that I am ready to stake my future on this issue.
It is for this reason that I have returned to place before this sympathetic audience, this House in which I have served for 16 years, and in which I am glad to believe I have many true friends, an appreciation of the situation as I know it, and to record a solemn declaration that in my judgment, in entering the League of Nations, Canada has made no mistake. I would ask permission, Mr. Speaker, 'to submit proofs for this assertion and also to be allowed to urge still further co-operation, if that be possible.
May I preface my remarks with this statement, that, in my opinion, our inter-
national relationships should be free from partisanship. This is the spirit and the example of the League as it functions today. I trust that the spectacle of political division on international questions exhibited by a nation not far distant from us, may toe a sufficient object lesson to induce Canadians to resolve that, in so far as their international relationships are concerned, polities shall not be permitted to enter that domain. There are many internal issues upon which we can with more or less profit disagree, but in the front which we may present to the world, let there toe no evidence of disunion. .
The Treaty of Peace came into force on January 10, 1920. On that date, the League of Nations was officially born. Although plenipotentiaries of all the assembled powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, formal ratification and adhesion was deemed to 'be necessary. During the past five months 24 of the 32 original signatories have duly ratified the Treaty. The matter is still in doubt in respect of China, Equador and the Hodjas, although it seems probable that China by accepting the Austrian Treaty, will become a member of the League of Nations. Only 5 out of the 45 possible original members have definitely abstained from entering the League. These are: The United States, Cuba, iHayti, Honduras, Nicaragua. It would not be too much to assume that the abstention of the United States was responsible for similar action by the 4 smaller powers.
During the two months which followed the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace, I am free to confess there was considerable anxiety as to whether the invited States would join the League. These States had not participated in the war. They were, for the most part, but little weakened by the period of world unrest. They included a number of the most advanced peoples, where representative government had reached its highest development. It is a significant fact, and one which has brought great encouragement to the well-wishers of the League that within the sixty days, every invited State, after debate and full consideration, decided to mter the League of.Nations. There were ividences in the letters of adhesion that not all of the invited States considered the Covenant as a perfect instrument, tout no member entered the League with reservations, preferring rather as a member of the [DOT]League to exert influence within that body for such amendments as might be deemed desirable.
Thus, the League of Nations already contains thirty-seven States. In addition, a number of new nations have applied for admission, and it seems probable that, at the next assembly, even some of the former -enemy States may be taken in.
Already 37 Powers, with a total population of 850,000,000 people, have joined this League and there is little doubt that before another year has passed, that number will have grown to 45 or even 50. Never in the history of the world, has so large a number of independent nations joined together for common ends.
The Covenant, familiar to you all and often discussed in the House, is the Charter of the League of Nations. It sets forth, not only the objects to be attained, but it also advocates the means whereby these ends are to be secured. In the five months which have elapsed .since the birth of the League, What progress has been made, what plans formulated, what machinery set in motion! To endeavour to answer these questions, is the purpose of such observations as I may toe able to offer to this House.
The organs of the League of Nations are three in number,-The Assembly, or general gathering of members; the Council or Executive Committee of the League and the Secretariat of permanent international Civil Service. Let us see what has been done towards the development of these organs and the utilization of them in fulfilling the purposes which the League is 'intended to serve.
It was the original intention -of the authors of the Peace Treaty that the first meeting of the Assembly should be held in Washington in November of 1919 and when I went over to take my place on the Secretariat nine months ago there "was every expectation that this plan would be carried out. The abstention, however, of the.United States made a Washington Assembly impossible, in fact, postponed the Assembly for a year, so that it will not take place until November, 1920, when it will be held at Brussels. Instead then of commencing its career by a meeting of the Assembly, the Council has first been brought into being as the authority of the League. This Council at present comprises eight members. Four represent the principal Allied Powers-Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan. There is a vacant chair at the table, which speaks volumes. Four other members of the Council represent the League at large; theoretically, the smaller states. At present, these seats are occupied
by representatives from Spain, Belgium, Greece and Brazil. When a special question, in which a state is interested, comes up for consideration, that state may have an ad hoc member. Thus, when measures for combating typhus were considered at the fourth meeting of the League, the Polish delegate sat at'the table and participated in the deliberations.
Within the past five months, there have been 6 meetings of the Council of the League of Nations: 3 held at London, 2 at Paris and 1 in Rome. The members have not been idle and the record of work done is, I think, worthy of our consideration. Without going over the agenda of each successive meeting, I will try to deal with the results of the six meetings.
The subjects dealt with are divisible into three classes which may be thus described:-First, those in fulfilment of special tasks laid upon the (League of Nations by the Treaty of Versailles and subsequent Treaties similar to it. Secondly, constructive measures having for their object the creation of permanent institutions designed to establish a basis for future international co-operation. Third, special duties of an emergent character, thrust upon the League in consequence of post war conditions. Of what has been done along these lines, I now propose to speak.
In the drawing up of the Treaties of Peace and the re-arrangement of the map of Europe, there were certain geographical areas, certain ethnological units, left in suspense. Where possession of these areas was in dispute between former enemies, to have assigned them to the care of either of the disputants would have been to have left a continiung incentive for war. It was therefore decided that the care should be given to a third party and that third party is the League of Nations. Take for example, the case of the Saar Basin. It lies between France and Germany, with a population 'of 700,000 people engaged mainly in the production
of coal. France, whose coal areas had
been devastated during the German occupation, demanded control of this supply, which was Jabsolutely necessary for her industrial rebuilding. But to have placed
700,000 Germans under the control of France would have been to have invited a war of revenge. On the other hand, to have left the coal area under the control of Germany, would have rendered the French supply of this necessity most precarious and to have threatened French industrial life with extinction. It was necessary, therefore, to operate the area with justice to both contending parties. The League of Nations Council at its first meeting set up a Commission to administer the Saar Basin, in accordance with the terms laid down in the Treaty. This Commission has for Canadians a peculiar interest in that one of the most active and successful members of the Commission is the well known ex-mayor of Winnipeg, Mr. R D. Waugh.
I might give the House many interesting facts regarding Mr. Waugh's successful administration. Within the fehort period since his appointment, he has not only demonstrated his fitness for this important post but has brought credit upon Canada and Canadians.
Another example of a specific task enjoined by the Treaty is the governance of the free city of Dantzic. Here again, a difficult problem faced the makers of peace. Access to the Baltic Sea is a necessity to Poland, in order to engage in foreign trade, but this access could only be secured by detaching a port, formerly German, and making it available for Polish commerce. To have given Dantzic to Poland, or to have left Dantzic in the control of Germany, would have precipitated another war. Dantzic has, therefore, been placed under the authority of the League of Nations. The Council has appointed Sir Reginald Tower, a British administrator who distinguished himself in South America as High Commissioner, with instructions to draw up a constitution, to hold popular elections, and in the capacity of administrator and arbiter to establish settled conditions of government, on terms that will be just to all. This he is doing under the guarantee of the League of Nations. The free city of Dantzic will make treaties with Germany and with Poland, and the League of Nations will see to it that fair play is given to all concerned.
Other treaties will doubtless create similar areas,1 the responsibility for which the League of Nations, as the only impartial body in the world, will be called upon to assume. These then are the specific tasks laid down in the Treaties, the most urgent of which have been already successfully accomplished.
The League of Nations Council has taken a number of decisions, looking towards
the erection of permanent institutions designed to establish a basis for future international co-operation. Laying foundations is slow and laborious work but if the world is in fututre to avoid war, organizations must be created to remove the causes of possible friction. The League is not a superstate but an association of free nations. It is an instrument of cooperation. It does not impose its views upon unwilling members but it composes different views into a common agreement.
How is this done? An illustration may perhaps make it plain. As an undisputed axiom, we admit that "No nation lives to itself alone." Unhealthful conditions, for example, in one country, cannot fail to endanger all other countries. You cannot have cholera in Greece without danger of cholera in New York. It is the business of us all that each nation maintain healthful conditions. It is desirable, therefore, that effective health laws be as nearly universal as possible and that united action in emergencies be readily secured. This, therefore, is one of the subjects with which the League of Nations may legitimately deal, let me repeat not as a superstate but as a means of co-operation. Here is the "modus operandi " generally followed.
A small international expert committee is first created in liaison with the Secretariat of the League of Nations. This committee prepares a plan. A larger international conference of experts is next apppoint-ed to consider and probably amend this plan. It is then reported to and approved by the Council of the League. The next step is to draft a convention or model Act and distribute this among the members of the League, with a request that each State put through legislation as nearly as possible along the lines indicated. The Secretariat of the League watches legislation and reports thereon through the medium of its health section. The States which finally ratify this convention are bound by it and while you have no international parliament, yet after a score of nations have passed the same Act, the result is not different from what it would be had one parliament the power to impose a single Act upon all. Thus, there is no coercion, no imposing of views. Each nation has a consultive part in the making of the draft Act. No nation is bound to accept it even after it has been prepared, but it is hoped that an Act thus prepared will be so reasonable and so elastic that it can secure general support. Similar action on the part of many becomes united action on the part of all.
Topic: THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS.
Subtopic: STATEMENT BY SIR HERBERT AMES, FINANCIAL DIRECTOR OF THE SECRETARIAT.