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League Council Against Changing Procedure on Petitions

The League of Nations Council at its session here has decided not to change the existing procedure governing communications received from non-official bodies. According to this procedure, as established in August 1923, the Secretary-General of the League of Nations is unable to submit to the members of the League of Nations Council all the various memoranda, petitions, resolutions, proposals, etc., which are received by the Secretariat from non-official bodies. Following the intervention of the International Union of League of Nations Societies, the procedure was amended in February 1924 to provide that at the opening of every session, the Council would receive a list of all the documents which has arrived from international private societies, so that each member of the Council would be able to ask for those which interested him.

The Secretary-General of the League of Nations drew the attention of the Council to the fact that in certain quarters the distinction made between international and national societies was regarded as an injustice. He asked the Council that if it was decided to maintain the present distinction, a clear definition should be adopted of what is understood by the term “international societies.”

The Council decided that the existing procedure has been giving good results, and that there is no need to make any change. As for the term “international societies,” the Council held that it was necessary to take into account the structure and organization of the society and not the scope and character of its work. The procedure remains therefore as it was. The decision carries with it the retention of the declaration of the Council of November 1923, to the effect that this procedure does not extend to petitions relating to the protection of minorities, which are dealt with according to the special minorities procedure.

The question was raised by the Joint Foreign Committee in a memorandum which Mr. Lucien Wolf submitted to Sir Eric Drummond, the Secretary-General of the League in September. As a community, the memorandum said, the Jews have no international organization, and nearly all the important Jewish societies which interest themselves in the work of the League of Nations are local and national in the sense that they are British, or French, or German, as the case may be. Previously to 1923, it went on, national societies enjoyed precisely the same access to the Council as international associations, and an examination of the use they made of this access shows that it was a substantial advantage to the Council. The Joint Foreign Committee, it further said, trusts that the Council may see its way to restore the equality of international and national associations, so far as their access to the Council is concerned. It pointed out that there are many international associations which have no international organization and very little concern with the work of the League of Nations, while on the other hand, there are important private national associations which are exclusively engaged in international work and are consequently deeply interested in the proceedings of the League.

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