[The Human Rights Library wishes to express its gratitude to the Institute Henry Dunant for its contribution of this document.]
The United States of America, The British Empire, France, Italy and Japan, hereinafter referred to as the Signatory Powers, desiring to make more effective 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 Plenipotentiaries:
(Here follow the names of Plenipotentiaries)
Who, having communicated their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed as follows:
Article 1. 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 international law:
(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 refuses 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 the universal rules above stated; and if a submarine cannot 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.
Art. 2. The Signatory Powers invite all other civilized Powers to express their assent to the foregoing statement of established law so that there 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.
Art. 3. The Signatory Powers, desiring to ensure 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 and punishment 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 be found.
Art. 4. The Signatory Powers recognize the practical impossibility of using submarines as commerce destroyers without violating, as they were violated in the recent war of 1914-1918, the requirements universally accepted by civilized nations for the protection of the lives of neutrals and noncombatants, and to the end that the prohibition of the use of submarines as commerce destroyers shall be universally accepted as a part of the law of nations, they now accept that prohibition as henceforth binding as between themselves and they invite all other nations to adhere thereto.
Art. 5. 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.
Art. 6. 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.
The Government of the United States will transmit to all the Signatory Powers a certified copy of the ' procès-verbal ' of the deposit of ratifications. 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.
Art. 7. 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.
Any non-Signatory Power may adhere to the present Treaty by communicating an instrument of adherence to the Government of the United States, which 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-two.
(Here follow signatures)