DECISION OF THE COUNCIL OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
ON THE ÅLAND ISLANDS
INCLUDING SWEDEN’S PROTEST
Original English Version
League of Nations Official Journal
MINUTES OF THE FOURTEENTH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL, JUNE 24TH.
All the Representatives of the Members of the Council, and
the Secretary-General, were present.
M. BRANTING, representing Sweden, and M. ENCKELL,
representing Finland, came to the Council table.
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Mr. FISHER reminded the Council that the day before he had
submitted certain fundamental principles concerning the Aaland Islands Question.
To-day, these general ideas had received the unanimous approval of the Council,
with the exception, of course, of the two parties to the dispute.
Mr. Fisher then read the following draft resolution;
” The Council at its meeting of June 24th, 1921, having
regard to the fact that the two parties interested in the fate of the Aaland
Islands have consented that the Council of the League of nations should be
called upon to effect a settlement of the difficulties which have arisen, and
that they have agreed to abide by its decision;
”After consideration of the Report of the Jurists which
the question of the competence and of the decision of the Council, of September
20th, 1920, which recognised the aforesaid competence;
”And having reviewed all the geographical, ethnical,
political, economic and military considerations set forth in the memorandum of
the Rapporteurs, who undertook a thorough enquiry upon the request of the League
”Bu having recognised, on the other hand, the desirability
of a solution involving a maximum of security both for the population of the
Islands and the parties concerned,
”1. The sovereignty of the Aaland Islands is recognised to
belong to Finland;
”2. Nevertheless, the interests of the world, the future
of cordial relations between Finland and Sweden, the prosperity and happiness of
the Islands themselves cannot be ensured unless (a) certain further guarantees
are given for the protection of the Islanders; and unless (b) arrangements are
concluded for the non-fortification and neutralisation of the Archipelago.
”3. The new guarantees to be inserted in the autonomy law
should specially aim at the preservation of the Swedish language in the schools,
at the maintenance of the landed property in the hands of the Islanders, at the
restriction, within reasonable limits, of the exercise of the franchise by new
comers, and at ensuring the appointment of a Governor who will possess the
confidence of the population.
”4. The Council has requested that the guarantees will be
more likely to achieve their purpose, if they are discussed and agreed to by the
Representatives of Finland with those of Sweden, if necessary with the
assistance of the Council of the League of Nations, and, in accordance with the
Council’s desire, the two parties have decided to seek out an agreement.
Should their efforts fail, the Council would itself fix the guarantees which, in
its opinion, should be inserted, by means of an amendment, in the autonomy law
of May, 7th, 1920. In any case, the Council of the League of Nations will see to
the enforcement of these guarantees.
”5. An international agreement in respect of the
non-fortification and the neutralisation of the Archipelago should guarantee to
the Swedish people and to all the countries concerned, that the Aaland Islands
will never become a source of danger from the military point of view. With this
object, the convention of 1856 should be replaced by a broader agreement, placed
under the guarantee of all the Powers concerned, including Sweden. The Council
is of the opinion that this agreement should conform, in its main lines, with
the Swedish draft Convention for the neutralisation of the Islands. The Council
instructs the Secretary-General to ask the governments concerned to appoint duly
accredited representatives to discuss and conclude the proposed Treaty.
Viscount ISHII said that he agreed with the text presented
by Mr. Fisher.
M. HANOTAUX, the Marquis IMPERIALI, M. QUINONES DE LÉON,
Mr. WELLINGTON KOO, M. HYMANS, and M. DA CUNHA said that they also accepted the
text presented by Mr. Fisher.
M. BRANTING read the following declaration:
”On behalf of the Swedish Government I have the honour to
make the following statement: –
”It is with a feeling of profound disappointment that the
Swedish nation will learn of the Resolution of the Council of the League of
”In supporting the cause of the people of the Aaland
Islands before Europe and the League of nations, Sweden was not influenced by
the desire to increase her territory. She only wished to support noble and just
aspirations and to defend the right of an absolutely homogenous island
population to reunite itself to its mother-country, from which it had been
detached by force, but to which it is still united by the ties of a common
origin, a common history, and a common national spirit. This population has
declared to the whole world its unanimous wish not to be bound to a country to
which it had been joined by force of arms alone.
”The Swedish Government had hoped that an institution,
which was established to assist in the realisation of right in international
relationships, would have favoured a solution of the Aaland question in
conformity with the principle of self-determination, which, although not
recognised as a part of international law, has received so wide an application
in the formation of the New Europe. It had hoped that the Aalanders would not be
refused the rights, which have been recognised in respect of their Slesvig
brothers, who belong, as do the Aalanders, to the Scandinavian race. It had
hoped that, in the very special case under consideration, in which right appears
so evident, and in which the wishes of the population have been expressed with
such unusual unanimity, the League of Nations would have filled, at least on
this occasion the rôle of the champion and defender of right, and thus, by its
first decision, would have proclaimed the dawn of a new international order.
”To-day, when the decision of the Council has frustrated
that hope, the Swedish Government is obliged to express the fear that the
Council has grievously shaken the confidence that the peoples, particularly
those who, like Sweden, have long been striving to accomplish international law,
have had in the League of nations – an institution brought into being to make
that law supreme in the world. If the League is to fulfil the great task
entrusted to it by the Covenant, it is absolute necessary that it should possess
”The Swedish Government is not of opinion that the
settlement of the Aaland question which is suggested by the Council is likely to
confer upon the Baltic area the peace that is desired. Nor yet is it of opinion
that a population as homogenous as that of the Aaland Islands, of whose wishes
so little account has been taken, can add to the strength of a country to which
it is attached against its unanimous desire.
”Sweden is ready loyally to recognise that the decision of
the Council has the force given to it by the Covenant. But Sweden will not
abandon the hope that the day will come when the idea of justice shall have so
permeated the conscience of the peoples, that the claims inspired by such noble
motives and a national feeling as deep as that of the population of the Aaland
Isles will be triumphally vindicated. Thus it will make its voice heard, and
will at last have justice done to it.”
M. ENCKELL said that he accepted the Council’s
The PRESIDENT noted the declarations which had been
M. HYMANS proposed that the conversation between the
Representatives of Sweden and Finland and himself should begin on the day
following, in order to find a common ground of agreement regarding the
M. BRANTING thought that in view of what had happened at
this meeting there was little chance that the meeting between the two parties
under the presidency of M. HYMANS would have any result. In that event, the
Council would pronounce its judgement in accordance with the terms of the
Resolution which it had adopted.
Mr. FISHER asked M. Branting if the Swedish Government
accepted, under protest, the Council’s resolution.
M. BRANTING stated that the Representatives of Sweden had
already replied to that question on the day before when they had said, in the
name of their Government, that ”it was ready loyally to recognise that the
decision of the Council had the force given to it by the Covenant”.
This sentence would also be found in the protest of the Swedish
Government, which had just been read.
M. VAN HAMEL, Director of the Legal Section of the
Secretariat, was asked to make certain observations on the legal aspects of the
M. HANOTAUX desired that a discussion should not take place,
at present, on the legal aspect, which was not teat ready to be discussed. A
result had already been reached, and the Representatives of the parties in the
dispute and M. Hymans would meet on the following day. The discussion on the
legal aspect could be opened when the Council had received M. Hymans’
The Council adopted M. Hanotaux’s