Joint Foreign Committee Favors Present Procedure in Minorities Petitions

The present procedure in the submission to the League of Nations by minorities of petitions against the governments of the countries in which they reside, is favored by the Joint Foreign Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Board of Jewish Deputies. A statement was submitted by Lucien Wolf, secretary, to Sir Austin Chamberlain, British Foreign Secretary, presenting the Committee’s opinion on the proposed change as taken up by the Council of the League of Nations and postponed for the June session.

Commenting on Senator Raoul Dandurand’s memorandum for changing the procedure, Mr. Wolf stated that the proposed sweeping changes in the transmission and examination of petitions cannot be accepted.

“Senator Dandurand believes that the present form of submission of petitions is unfair to the government concerned because it is denied opportunity of regretting the cause for the grievance through direct negotiation with the minority. Experience, however, during the last eight years shows that a minority has never appealed to the League unless it has previously exhausted every resource by direct representation to the government concerned. Therefore it is unnecessary and undesirable now to curtail the rights of the minorities.”

The Committee is also against the proposal that the Council of the League examine petitions instead of a committee of three because under the present arrangements the strictest precautions are taken to insure the impartiality of the investigating body, while under the (Continued on Page 4)

proposal the Council would necessarily lose its judicial character.

“The Foreign Committee therefore favors the present procedure and believes that the minorities’ grievances which arise can be satisfied by certain amendments to the existing minorities treaties and by facilitating the submission of certain grievances of the Permanent Court of International Justice.”

Two points in the present procedure which Senator Dandurand pointed out might have deplorable consequences, are also emphasized by the Joint Foreign Committee: first, the exclusion of the petitioning minorities from cognizance of the reply made to their petitions by “the governments concerned; “secondly, empowerment of the Committee of Three to deal finally with the petitions and to absolve or blame the governments concerned without reporting to the Council. This causes widespread discontent with the League among the minorities because since the proceedings of the Committee of Three are private, the petitioners believe that their grievances are disregarded.

The investigation committee, Mr. Wolf continued, is singularly limited since it is not permitted to make judicial investigations on the spot but is compelled to judge only on the petition of the plaintive minorities and the observations of the government concerned, which often leads to a great miscarriage of justice.

Should the Council of the League prefer Senator Dandurand’s proposal, the Committee hopes that option of appeal directly to the League be retained for the minorities and that the right of foreign organizations, akin in race and religion, to address the League on their behalf, be maintained.

The Council of the League at its session which discussed minorities problems last week, decided not to accept Senator Dandurand’s proposals but to have a special committee report on the June session along the lines of Sir Austin Chamberlain’s recommendations for certain modifications in the present procedure.

NEXT STORY