The principal Allies are each represented by one chief delegate. The delegates of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy take part in all proceedings; the delegate of Belgium in all proceedings except those attended by the delegates of Japan or the Serb-Croat-Slovene State; the delegate of Japan in all proceedings affecting maritime or specifically Japanese questions; and the delegate of the Serb-Croat-Slovene State when questions relating to Austria, Hungary, or Bulgaria are under consideration. Other allies are to be represented by delegates, without the power to vote, whenever their respective claims and interests are under examination.
In general the Commission decides by a majority vote, except in certain specific cases where unanimity is required, of which the most important are the cancellation of German indebtedness, long postponement of the instalments, and the sale of German bonds of indebtedness. The Commission is endowed with full executive authority to carry out its decisions. It may set up an executive staff and delegate authority to its officers. The Commission and its staff are to enjoy diplomatic privileges, and its salaries are to be paid by Germany, who will, however, have no voice in fixing them, If the Commission is to discharge adequately its numerous functions, it will be necessary for it to establish a vast polyglot bureaucratic organization, with a staff of hundreds. To this organization, the headquarters of which will be in Paris, the economic destiny of Central Europe is to be entrusted.
Its main functions are as follows:—
1. The Commission will determine the precise figure of the claim against the enemy Powers by an examination in detail of the claims of each of the Allies under Annex I. of the Reparation Chapter. This task must be completed by May, 1921. It shall give to the German Government and to Germany’s allies “a just opportunity to be heard, but not to take any part whatever in the decisions of the Commission.” That is to say, the Commission will act as a party and a judge at the same time.
2. Having determined the claim, it will draw up a schedule of payments providing for the discharge of the whole sum with interest within thirty years. From time to time it shall, with a view to modifying the schedule within the limits of possibility, “consider the resources and capacity of Germany ... giving her representatives a just opportunity to be heard.”
“In periodically estimating Germany’s capacity to pay, the Commission shall examine the German system of taxation, first, to the end that the sums for reparation which Germany is required to pay shall become a charge upon all her revenues prior to that for the service or discharge of any domestic loan, and secondly, so as to satisfy itself that, in general, the German scheme of taxation is fully as heavy proportionately as that of any of the Powers represented on the Commission.”