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Minutes of the Fourteenth Session PDF Print E-mail
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Reports - Report of the International Opium Commission

26til FEBRUARY, 1909
The PRESIDENT took the Chair at 2.3o p.m.
The Chief Commissioner for Portug-al, Senhor POTIER, addressed the House :—
" Duly authorized by m), Government, I have the honour to make the following Declaration :—
" Considering that this is a Commission of study, the Portuguese Government wishes to carefully examine the text, conditions and basis of the proposals presented by the various delegates, as well as the reports and information furnished by the local Authorities of the colonies interested, with regard to the means how to render effective the desirable measures to be adopted, and therefore reserves its vote until after the Minutes of the International Commission and the documents referring to the subject have been perused, when its decision will be communicated to all the Powers represented in the Commission."
The Chief Commissioner for the Netherlands, Mr. A. A. DE JONGH, laid on the table -the following statement embodying the two resolutions offered for consideration at a previous Session:—
The Delegation for the Netherlands brings forward two resolutions, the first of which reads as follows (for text vide Minutes of the Twelfth Session).
" In explaining the reasons for presenting this resolution, the Chief Commissioner for the Netherlands draws the attention of the House to the first two sections of the preamble, where it is said that 'the total eradication of the use of opium within a few years is to be -considered as a high, but at present an unattainable ideal,' and further that in order to check the use of opium much may be expected from taking systematic measures which are gradual in their effect,' and goes on as follows: judging- by experience gained in Nether-lands-India our Delegation is of opinion that the best way of reaching that object is the .establishment of an opium system, managed by officials who are not in the least interested in the amount of sale. As appears from Appendix III to the Memorandum on the Opium Régie in Netherlands-India, presented together with our report, under that system in a period -of fifteen years the averag-e annual consumption of chant& per head of the population in Java shows a decrease from 0.04.2 tahil to o.o25 tahil, which means a little over 4.0 per cent. I wish to state that this decrease took place gradually, and that therefore there is good reason to expect that it will prove to be a constant one and will go on progressively.
"The Netherlands Delegation on this ground, being proud of the Java Regie system, and also deeply convinced of its useful effect in other reg-ards, has taken the liberty to Present the above-mentioned memorandum for the purpose of putting forward the principles on which the system is based, and with the hope that the study of it ma), stimulate other Governments to practise it in their own territories or possessions, as soon as circumstances make it possible to do away with the prevailing systems of farming or of free retail trade in opiutn.
" As for the second part of the same resolution, I beg to draw the attention of the House to the circumstance that the resolutions heretofore accepted deal with the prevalence of smuggling, the checking of the morphine evil, the study of the medical side of the opium .question, the re-examination of the prevailing opium revenue systems, a courteous statement in order to compliment the Government of China for what has been done in the last two years for checking the use of opiutn in tha.t Empire, and lastly, a recommendation to our Govern-ments to take measures for the gradual suppression of the practice of opium smoking.
"As yet not a single resolution has been moved to suggest definite measures on the subject which, in the diplomatic correspondence on the matter, has been put forward as the main object of our Commission, viz., to devise means to limit the use of opium. By throwing back this task on the shoulders of the various Governments, our Commission does not do what is expected from it. Therefore it might greatly contribute to a practical result if a resolution were put forward recommending some definite measures to the effect above mentioned. As such measures may be considered, those which have been enumerated under the numbers I to IX of our proposed resolution, which have in part been practised in Java for many years and have, in part, been lately taken into consideration, in order to show to the world which is
waiting for practical results, that our Commission has not forgotten to give some practical-hints for a satisfactory solution of the opium question, the Netherlands Delegation thinks it useful that the second part of this resolution be adopted.
" I do not think it necessary to say much about each of these measures, as all of them speak sufficiently for themselves. However, I am prepared to give any additional information, that may be asked for."
The second resolution runs as follows (for text vide Minutes of the Twelfth Session).
" F,xperience has taught that the smuggling of opium (which for the reasons mention-ed in the preamble is in itself a great evil), cannot be extirpated as long as opium remains an ordinary article of trade, and so goes through the hands of private wholesale dealers and of smugglers who buy it from them.
" Therefore it is most urgent that the trade in opium be withdrawn from those persons, and be limited to the Governments of opium-producing and opium-consuming countries. This measure may do an immense deal of good for the solution of the Opium problem, and therefore, in our opinion, should be recommended on this occasion to the Governments concerned, even though realisation of its principle will be possible in the future-only."
Monsieur MIVAOKA read a repl) to the question asked by the C:hinese Delegation during the Twelfth Session, regarding the rate of import duty on morphia imported into Kuantung.
Mr. R. LAIDLAW, M.P., presented the Report of the Committee on Trade Statistics.
Monsieur MIVAOKA.—"As there is no business just for the moment, I may, perhaps. avail myself of this occasion to make a reply to a question which was privately submitted to me by Dr. Tenney. I take this course because 1 believe the information will be of interest to the Commission as a whole. Dr. Tenney did not put it in the form of a question formally submitted before the International Opium Commission, but as a report to the effect that a large quantity of morphia is being re-exported from the port of Kobe to Korea, Manchuria. and China proper; that there were large quantities of morphia which came in from abroad which were not landed, —at least no steps were taken regarding the usual formalities at the Custom House,oebut that it was re-shipped from Kobe (implying that the morphia in question was for transhipment from one ship to another, or that it was landed temporarily at the Customs sheds, and placed on board out-going ships), and that the amount thus dealt with in Kobe was a very large amount.
"I have made enquiries on the subject, and am 1101V informed that during the year i9o8 there was one transhipment of morphine which corresponded with the circumstances. just given. That was only one case, and the quantity was rs-lbs. That was the only occasion on which re-shipment was made. Dr. Tenney further wished for information regarding thc Provisions of the Japanese Law under which such a step is possible, Art. 38 of the Customs Law (No. 61) of Japan, promulgated in March 1899, reads as follows :—
'The provisions relating to exportation apply mutatis mutandis in all respects. to the re-exportation of goods. But this rule does not apply to the re-shipment of goods which have been temporary landed.'
Thus, all goods coming from abroad, but which have been only temporarily landed for the purpose of re-exportation, will be exempt from the provisions relating to re-exportation, and I am now informed that the only case of morphine was this one package containing 15-lb. which was exported to Chemulpo. To show you that no re-shipment or transhipment at Kobe is possible without the knowledge of the Customs officials, it is sufficient, I think, to point out to you the Provisions of Art. 12 of the same Law to which I have referred. Art. r-, provides that :
Vessels carrying foreign goods cannot, excepting in cases where the permission of the Superintendent of the Customs has been obtained, put on board or discharge cargo until after the production of the Manifest. But this rule does not apply to passengers'. hand-baggage and postal matter.'
So you will see that unless the Manifest is presented to the Customs, no vessel can unload': any goods coming from abroad."
Mr. BRUNYATE, on behalf of the Committee of Revision, presented the resolutions as adopted, for final endorsement by the Commission.
[See after Minutes of Fourteenth Session.]
The Right Hon. Sir CECIL CLEMENTI Swim' moved the final adoption of the resolutions. This proposal was carried unanimously.
Sit CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH.—" I hope I am not \vrong in intervening at this point but the question naturally arises: What validity by any action of this Commission should be given to the resolutions which we have now adopted ? I venture to think that the proper course for us to adopt is to move that the PRESIDENT, on behalf of the Commission, do sign the resolutions as having, been passed by the Commission. It seems to me that it would be more properly done thus than by getting signatures from all the members of the Commission, and I beg to move accordingly in that sense."
This proposition also met with unanimous approval.
Sir CECIL CLENIENTI SMITH.—" We have now passed the formal resolutions which this Commission has arrived at after a somewhat long period of deliberation, but there is one resolution more—maybe more than one—which we should wish to move before separating :—
That a cordial vote of thanks be offered to the Right Reverend Bishop Brent for the dignity, impartiality, and ability with which he has discharged the duties of President of the International Opium Commission." (General applause.)
Sir CECIL CLENIEMT SAIITH.—" May I rise to say that that vote is passed with acclammation ?"
The PRESIDENT.—" My honourable Colleagues : If, perchance, you deem that you have grounds to justify ai) expression of thanks to your President, he for his part has still more abundant justification for voicing his sense of appreciation to you. The spirit of co-operation and sympathy which has characterized this distinguished body from the moment I took the chair until now has never abated, and has robbed a responsibility of many anxieties and converted it into sheer privilege and honour. It is not difficult to rule, as has been my lot, over an assembly of men who, by virtue of their normal habit of life, contribute to order wherever they may be and in whatever business they may engage. That representatives of thirteen nations could so readily mould themselves into a family in the brief period of a month augurs well for the future.
"I congratulate this House not only that in the findings reached, all the resolutions put to vote were adopted nemine contradicente, but also that four out of the nine call for action on the part of one nation in behalf of the interests of another. The tide of sympathetic relationship between the ends of the earth is not yet at the flood, but as the history of the International Opium Commission proclaims anew, it is rising. There is the utmost frankness in the expression of conviction regarding national rights in the International relations of our day, and nations were never clearer as to what constitutes their rights, but there is also increasing considerateness for the well-being of sister nations and a gratifying readiness to make local sacrifices for the universal good. No nation, as no individual, is asked even by the loftiest altruistic code to love his neighbour better than, but only as, himself. We are progressing toward this coveted goal.
"The conclusion of our work as an International Commission has been reached. The reports of the various countries represented have been laid before the House and discussed with ability and thoroughness. After careful examination Committees have reported on Trade Statistics; the Growth of the Poppy and production of Opium; Revenue Statistics, Tariffs, Excise, etc; Treaties and International Agreements.
"In our resolutions based upon the evidence in hand we have touched various phases of the subject, though we do not pretend to have exhausted them. A complimentary resolution expressing sympathy with China in her task has been adopted; drastic measures for the suppression of the morphine habit and the gradual suppression of opium smoking, are advocated as a principle; three resolutions are aimed at correcting the abuse of opium and its derivatives in foreign Concessions and Settlements in China; in countries where opium is not prohibited Ica- other than medical purposes a revision of the existing systems of regulation is recommended
to the Governments concerned; each Delegation is urged to advise its own Government to investigate scientifically for itself the matter of anti-opium remedies, and the effect of opium and its products; International co-operation is advocated to prevent the smuggling of opium into countries where a prohibitory law prevails.
"In two instances the Commission judged itself unable to consider questions brought forward on the ground that they were beyond its province of action; the first one being that of the scientific investigation of anti-opium remedies and of the properties and effects of opium and its products, which, however, was reached in another form as just indicated; and the second, that of a resolution which involved existing International Treaties and Agreements.
"There is one phase of the subject which the casual reader of the resolutions might suppose we have not duly considered—the moral aspect. But we who have had this weighty problem under advisement know that such has not been the case. It has from time to time been on the lips of the various speakers and always, I incline to think, before the mind's eye of the whole assembly. All of us alike value character as the one indispensable possession of human life, and it is our undivided desire to take such measures as will safeguard the moral freedom of the young and undefiled, and make for the restoration of those who have lost their heritage through the evils connected with opium. I assert with confidence our sympathy has never flagged.
" But sympathy in its earlier stages differs from its later embodiment. In its youth it spends much of its force in kindly emotion ; in its matured form it moves with balanced nerves and purposeful tread directly toward measures of succour and relief. Indeed science considered in its practical bearings is a developed form of sympathy. Our immediate function has been to deal with the matter before us with a view to practical aid. We were, so to speak, the physician who has come to the bedside of the sick man, not to tell him Ile is sick but rather to consider how he may be made whole. The man in the street cannot understand what good the biologist in his laboratory is doing to the community', though all the while he is defending people from disease. Koch or Kitasato studying germs are at the same moment precluding the possibility of the widow's tears and the orphan's desolation.
" Similarly, we have been working at the root of the matter. Behind the raw statistics and cold sentences of our deliberative language and of most of our resolutions stand the pitiable army of moral slaves, in whose behalf we have been labouring in order that they may gain the greatest of all gifts—moral freedom. We have not wasted effort in heaping epithets upon a patent evil. The calling a bad thing by a bad name with little or no argument is a powerful means of impressing the public with the conviction that they must rid themselves of it. Indeed, it is necessary to rob an evil of its good or tolerable reputation in order to destroy it. But the evil of the abuse of opium is too well-established to require of us any fresh execra-tions. Just as slavery reached a point when among its opponents it was no longer a mere question of morals or an academic theory but an actual perplexing problem continually appearing in every direction and in various forms,' so has it come to be with the evil before us, and we have, we trust, not wholly failed in carrying the problem a stage nearer its final solution. Much still remains to be done by our respective Governments and the nations which we represent. As we move out to meet our responsibility the appeal of one of the world's more recent heroes comes to us—c Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.' "
Monsieur MIYAOKA moved a vote of thanks to the Secretaries in the following terms :—
" With your permission and the indulgence of the members of the International Com-mission I beg to give expression to the sense of high appreciation in which hold the services rendered by the Secretaries. It is unnecessary for me to commend to your attention the care, and the diligence, and the energy which they have brought to bear on the execution of their onerous duties. Owing to local circumstances beyond our control, these officers were compelled to rely for assistance upon a staff which, in proportion to the volume of work involved, must be pronounced to be inadequately small. In looking back upon the work which they have already accomplished and in looking upon what is now being done and what still remains to be done, we cannot be blind to the enthusiasm with which they and the mem-bers of their staff are applying themselves to their task.
"In this connection I may also be permitted to remark that the call of various Delegations upon the good offices of the Secretaries have been both frequent and numerous. Those appeals to their assistance have been invariably responded to not only with the utmost courtesy on their part, but with that good-natured willingness which has commanded the admiration of all. I feel, therefore, confident that I am correctly interpreting the general
sentiment, when I venture to move that an expression of cordial thanks of the International Opium Commission may be tendered to the Secretaries and their staff, and that the fact may be recorded in the Minutes of our proceedings."
The Chair declared the vote carried by acclamation.
An informal discussion took place as to the advisability of making public the resolu-tions adopted by the Commission. Mr. PANG KUO-AN expressed, on behalf of his Delegation, a desire that the results arrived at should be communicated to the Press as soon as possible. He said that the whole of China was looking towards Shanghai, anxious to know the conclusions of the Commission, and he thought that, unless the House was of an entirely contrary opinion, some consideration might be shown to both the Press and the people of China. His Delegation were taking immediate steps to acquaint the Chinese Government with the substance of the iesolutions that had been passed.
The PRESIDENT thought that the matter rnight well be left to the Press Committee, who would take into consideration what Mr. 'PANG had said.
Monsieur RATARD was of opinion that the resolutions should not be published until they had been submitted to, and had been approved of, by the various Governments represented.
SIR CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH and Monsieur MIYAOKA concurred with Monsieur RATARD'S remarks. They thought that it would be an unusual and improper course to publish the resolutions before the Governments they represented had had an opportunity of perusing them.
It was finally decided that publication of the resolutions should be deferred until authorised by the Government of each or of any country concerned.
The Chair having expressed the thanks of the Commission to the Chinese Delegation for their hospitality in arranging for the accommodation of the Commission during it sittings, announced that the business of the House was concluded, and he declared that the Inter-national Opium Commission stood adjourned sine die.
The proceedings terminated at 4.4o p.m.
(Signed) FRED. W. CAREY
Hon. Secretaries to the International Opium Commission.
Shanghai, 22nd March, 1909.