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tion in force between the two countries, the principles of which, in fact, the said statement merely translates into practice, the King's Government express the hope that an agreement will soon be arrived at recognizing explicitly that Sweden has the right to submit, after the war, to a court of arbitration, in accordance with the Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, the following questions, viz.: –
The questions mentioned in the Swedish note of the 11th February, 1916, as well as such questions of the same nature as have since arisen or may arise; it being, however, understood that cases which have been or may be brought before a British prize court shall not be referred to arbitration until the judgment of the prize court shall have been given; and
Generally speaking, all cases touching the interests of Sweden or of Swedish subjects which have been or may be decided in connection with the present. war by a British prize court, and in respect to which the King's Government may consider that they have reason to be dissatisfied with the judgment.
Provided that such an agreement can be arrived at, the King's Government are ready to release immediately the parcels mails now detained in Sweden with a view to their being forwarded by the usual route. In case British action of the kind which led to this detention should continue, the King's Government must reserve the right to take such counter-measures as the circumstances may demand. They must accordingly point out how desirable it is, in order to avoid new causes for mutual irritation, that the Government of His Britannic Majesty should discontinue such measures.
The King's Government hope His Britannic Majesty's Government will recognize that they have not only proved their good-will in desiring to remove anything standing in the way of good relations between the two countries, but that they have, so far as depended on them, also shown every consideration reasonably to be expected for the particular interests which have suffered through the detention in Sweden of parcels mails in transit.
I have, &c.
FOREIGN OFFICE, April 25, 1916.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 13th March regarding the detention of the parcels mails.
Before proceeding to a general expression of the policy of His Majesty's Government on this subject, I desire to deal with one point as to which your note reveals some misapprehension. In paragraph 8 of that note, you are good enough to state that the arguments recently presented on behalf of the Crown to the Prize Court preclude any possibility of a claim based upon the invalidity in international law of the Orders in Council being successfully made before that court. In order to remove any misapprehension which may exist in the mind of the Swedish Government on this point, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a note addressed to the United States Ambassador on the 31st July last, which makes it clear that the attitude of His Majesty's Government is not that attributed to them in your note. To my declaration thus made to the United States Ambassador His Majesty's Government adhere.
There is one further point to which I must refer. You are good enough to refer in the 11th paragraph of your note to the arbitration convention in force between Great Britain and Sweden. I must point out that this convention is not a general one stipulating for the reference to arbitration of all cases in which a dispute exists between the two countries. It specifically recognizes exceptions in the cases of matters involving the vital interests of either party, and I can conceive of no question more clearly partaking of this nature than the conduct of naval operations by the Allied Governments against their enemies in the present war.
Having dealt with these points, I wish to proceed in a spirit of conciliation to consider the general proposals put forward in your note in their relation to the policy consistently laid down by His Majesty's Government throughout the present discussion. In order to do so, it will be convenient to review the history of that discussion.
? See “Misc., No. 14 (1916),” No. 10; Special Supplement to this JOURNAL, July, 1915, p. 163.
On the 18th December last you very courteously protested against the detention of the parcels mails on board the steamships Hellig Olaf and Stockholm, and on the 27th of the same month you made a similar protest in regard to the removal of the parcels mails from certain other vessels. On the 1st January I was obliged to point out to you that I did not understand the grounds on which the contention of the Swedish Government was based, seeing that parcels mails were not entitled to any special treatment differing from that accorded to any other part of the cargo of neutral ships. On the 21st January you were good enough to answer this note, alleging that His Majesty's Government had violated certain various international agreements by their action.
In replying to this on the 31st January I had the honor to repudiate this charge, and to express the absolute confidence of His Majesty's Government in the justice of the British prize courts. With a sincere desire, however, to meet the Swedish Government, I made an offer in the following terms:
If, nevertheless, a neutral Government were to consider that the result of any particular judgment of the British Prize Court had in practice failed to give proper redress to one of their subjects, His Majesty's Government would be quite ready to listen sympathetically to any diplomatic representations on the subject, and they do not exclude the possibility of settling the controversy by some reference to arbitration after the war.
This offer was referred to by His Majesty's Minister at Stockholm in his note of the 28th February in a passage which you are good enough to quote in the tenth paragraph of your communication under reply. That passage must be read in conjunction with the last paragraph of Sir E. Howard's note, which makes it clear that the cases to be referred to arbitration must be specific decisions of the British Prize Court, actually delivered, and both passages must be interpreted by the terms of the offer to which they refer, which I have quoted above, and which remains the final offer of His Majesty's Government. It is not one which they can extend at the present time. Indeed, it requires neither extension nor explanation, for it has already been made to other Governments besides the Swedish Government, as you will observe from the conclusion of paragraph 6 of the note to the United States Ambassador enclosed herein.
The above sketch of the history of this discussion will make it clear that the question which His Majesty's Government believe
themselves to be discussing is the detention of the parcels mails carried by Swedish ships, and not a test case involving the whole naval policy of His Majesty's Government and of the Allies in the present war. In the case of one of the vessels on which this controversy originally arose, viz., the Stockholm, the mails were forwarded to their destination, and no question of a prize court decision can therefore arise thereon. With regard to the other cases, His Majesty's Government regard them, once they have been adjudicated by the court, as subject to, and as safeguarded by, the general offer stated above. But His Majesty's Government are, in these particular cases, prepared to go further, and, as an exceptional proceeding arising out of their desire to be friendly to Sweden, they are ready to apply this offer specifically in advance of the decision of the court to the parcels awaiting adjudication in the instances under discussion. They are ready to agree formally that, if the Swedish Government consider themselves aggrieved by the future decision of the Prize Court with respect to these parcels, they will submit that decision to arbitration after the war, provided the Swedish Government now release the parcels mails in transit for Russia.
This is the final extent of the arrangement which His Majesty's Government are prepared to offer in settlement of the present discussion. As against this, the Swedish Government have considered themselves justified in demanding, first, that His Majesty's Government shall undertake to submit to arbitration after the war any question which the Swedish Government may desire so to submit; and, secondly, that meanwhile His Majesty's Government shall relinquish for the remainder of the war those very rights the exercise of which is to form the subject-matter of the contemplated arbitration. His Majesty's Government must confine themselves to the specific offer which they have made thereon. They do not admit the illegality of their action, nor can they give any promise limiting the future exercise of their belligerent rights.
I have, &c.
No. 13 Note verbale handed by His Majesty's Minister at Stockholm to the
Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs
His Britannic Majesty's Minister was asked some time ago to give an interpretation of the precise meaning of the note addressed to the Swedish Minister in London on the 25th of April last, upon the subject of the detention of the parcel post.
The interpretation was given verbally, but Sir E. Howard is now authorized to state that the views of His Majesty's Government agree substantially with those which he then gave as to the meaning of the note. The construction to be placed upon the note is, therefore, as follows:
1. The offer therein made to the Royal Swedish Government respecting arbitration applies only to disputes about parcels mails carried on Swedish vessels.
2. As a general rule, His Majesty's Government could only entertain a proposal for arbitration in such cases, subject to the following conditions:
(a) That the decision of the Prize Court should have been previously given.
(6) That the Royal Swedish Government shall be dissatisfied with such decision.
(c) That diplomatic discussion between the Governments shall have led to a settlement satisfactory to both parties.
3. In the case, however, of the steamship Hellig Olaf, His Majesty's Government are prepared to consent forthwith to arbitration after the war upon the question of the parcels mails carried by this ship, if the Royal Swedish Government should find themselves dissatisfied with the Prize Court decision, which will be given in the case of these parcels mails.
Although no mention was made in the note above referred to, to the Anglo-Russian parcels detained by the Royal Swedish Government in transit through Sweden, Sir E. Howard has the honor to add that, in view of the conciliatory attitude shown by the British Government in this matter, it is anticipated that the Royal Swedish Government will not object to refer to arbitration any claims which