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Sir James Eric Drummond


DRUMMOND, SIR JAMES ERIC ), first secretary-general of League of Nations, half-brother of the 15th earl of Perth, was educated at Bedford Grammar school and Eton, and entered the British Foreign Office in April 1900. Later he became private secretary to the prime minister, Mr. Asquith, to Sir Edward Grey, and to Mr. Balf our during his term of office as foreign secretary. He accompanied Balfour on his special mission to the United States in 1917 and remained with him during the first months of the Peace Conference in Paris, until, on the proposal of President Wilson, he was appointed secretary-general of the League. The appointment lasted from the acceptance of the text of the Covenant, Apr. 29, 1919, until when Drummond became British ambassador in Rome.

Although the treaty was not signed and did not in fact come into force until Jan. 1920, the new secretary-general began imme diately to organize the Secretariat of the League. Several different systems had been suggested; but Drummond decided from the first that it must be a basic principle of the new organization that none of its members should be there as representatives of the interests of their own countries, but should form an international civil service, each member of which should consider himself as the servant of the League as a whole, and as bound to do his best to carry out its decisions with regard to national interests or desires. There can be no doubt that this decision, which ran counter to the advice of some of the greatest experts, has been abundantly justified. The 600 persons drawn from about 4o different nationalities who constitute the staff are divided into different sections according to the subject matter with which they are specially qualified to deal.

Sir Eric Drummond made it his chief aim to establish the organization on a basis of unimpeachable solidarity. Following the traditions of the British Civil Service he adopted the principle that the duty of the Secretariat is to act strictly in accordance with the decisions taken by the responsible authorities, i.e., by the members of the League acting through their constitutional organs, and to avoid all action which is not clearly based on authority constitutionally given. Appointed ambassador to Rome in 1933, Drummond was created G.C.M.G. in He succeeded as 16th earl of Perth in August

league, secretary-general, british and perth