Washington Treaty in Relation to the Use of Submarines and Noxious Gases in Warfare
Washington, D.C., February 6, 1922
UNITED STATES of America, the British Empire, France, Italy and
hereinafter referred to as the Signatory Powers, desiring to make
the rules adopted by civilized nations for the protection of
the lives of
neutrals and noncombatants at sea in time of war, and to
prevent the use
in war of noxious gases and chemicals, have determined to
conclude a Treaty
to this effect, and have appointed as their
The President of the United States of America; Charles Evans Hughes; Henry Cabot Lodge; Oscar W. Underwood; Elihu Root, citizens of the United States.
His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India; The Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour, O. M., M. P., Lord President of His Privy Council; The Right Honourable Baron Lee of Fareham, G. B. E., K. C. B., First Lord of His Admiralty; The Right Honourable Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes, K. C. B., His Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America; -;
and for the Dominion of Canada The Right Honourable Sir Robert Laird Borden, G. C. M. G., K. C.; for the Commonwealth of Australia: Senator, the Right Honourable George Foster Pearce, Minister for Home and Territories; for the Dominion of New Zealand: The Honourable Sir John William Salmond, K. C., Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand;
for the Union of South Africa: The Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour, O. M., M. P.; for India: The Right Honourable Valingman Sankaranarayana Srinivasa Sastri, Member of the Indian Council of State.
The President of the French Republic: Mr. Albert Sarraut, Deputy, Minister of the Colonies; Mr. Jules J. Jusserand, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America, Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honour.
His Majesty the King of Italy; The Honourable Carlo Schanzer, Senator of the Kingdom; The Honourable Vittorio Rolandi Ricci, Senator of the Kingdom, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Washington; The Honourable Luigi Albertini, Senator of the Kingdom.
His Majesty the Emperor of Japan: Baron Tomosaburo Kato, Minister for the Navy, Junii, a member of the First Class of the Imperial Order of the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun with the Paulownia Flower; Baron Kijuro Shidehara, His Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Washington, Joshii, a member of the First Class of the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun; Mr. Masanao Hanihara, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jushii, a member of the Second Class of the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun.
Who, having communicated their Full Powers, found in good and form, have agreed as follows:
The Signatory Powers declare that among the
rules adopted by civilized
nations for the protection of the lives of
neutrals and noncombatants at
sea in time of war, the following are to be
deemed an established part of
(1) A merchant vessel must be ordered to submit to visit and search to determine its character before it can be seized.
A merchant vessel must not be attacked unless it refuse to submit to visit and search after warning, or to proceed as directed after seizure.
A merchant vessel must not be destroyed unless the crew and passengers have been first placed in safety.
(2) Belligerent submarines are not under any circumstances exempt from universal rules above stated; and if a submarine can not capture a merchant vessel in conformity with these rules the existing law of nations requires it to desist from attack and from seizure and to permit the merchant vessel to proceed unmolested.
The Signatory Powers invite an other civilized Powers to express their assent to the foregoing statement of established law so that may be a clear public understanding throughout the world of the standards of conduct by which the public opinion of the world is to pass judgment upon future belligerents.
Powers, desiring to insure the enforcement of the humane
rules of existing
law declared by them with respect to attacks upon and
the seizure and
destruction of merchant ships, further declare that any
person in the
service of any Power who shall violate any of those rules,
whether or not
such person is under orders of a governmental superior, shall
be deemed to
have violated the laws of war and shall be liable to trial
as if for an act of piracy and may be brought to trial before
the civil or
military authorities of any power within the jurisdiction of
which he may
The Signatory Powers
recognize the practical impossibility of using submarines
destroyers without violating, as they were violated in the recent
1914-1918, the requirements universally accepted by civilized nations
the protection of the lives of neutrals and noncombatants, and to the
that the prohibition of the use of submarines as commerce destroyers
be universally accepted as a part of the law of nations they now
that prohibition as henceforth binding as between themselves and
all other nations to adhere thereto.
The use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or
other gases, and all analogous
liquids, materials or devices, having been
justly condemned by the general
opinion of the civilized world and a
prohibition of such use having been
declared in treaties to which a
majority of the civilized Powers are parties,
The Signatory Powers, to the end that this prohibition shall be universally accepted as a part of international law binding alike the conscience and practice of nations, declare their assent to such prohibition, agree to be bound thereby as between themselves and invite all other civilized nations to adhere thereto.
The present Treaty shall
be ratified as soon as possible in accordance
with the constitutional
methods of the Signatory Powers and shall take effect
on the deposit of all
the ratifications, which shall take place at Washington.
Government of the United States will transmit to all the Signatory
certified copy of the proces-verbal of the deposit of
The present Treaty, of which the French and English texts are both authentic, shall remain deposited in the Archives of the Government of the United States and duly certified copies thereof will be transmitted by that Government to each of the Signatory Powers.
The Government of the United States will
further transmit to each of
the Non-Signatory Powers a duly certified
copy of the present Treaty
and invite its adherence thereto.
Non-Signatory Power may adhere to the present Treaty by
an Instrument of Adherence to the Government of the United
will thereupon transmit to each of the Signatory and Adhering
Powers a certified
copy of each Instrument of Adherence.
In faith whereof, the above named Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Treaty.
Done at the City of Washington, the sixth day of February, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one.
[For the United States of America: ] CHARLES EVANS HUGHES, HENRY CABOT LODGE, OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD
[For the United Kingdom: ] ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR LEE OF FAREHAM, A. C. GEDDES
[For the Dominion of Canada: R. L. BORDEN
[For the Dominion of Australia: ] G. F. PEARCE
[For the Dominion of New Zealand JOHN W. SALMOND
[For the Dominion of South Africa: ]
V. S. SRINIVASA SASTRI
[For France: ] A. SARRAUT, JUSSERAND
[For Italy: ] CARLO SCHANZER, V. ROLANDI RlCCI, LUIGI ALBERTINI
[F or Japan: ] T. KATO, K. SHIDEHARA, M. HANIHARA