Memorandum by Mr. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., of the Division of European Affairs
Under normal circumstances the procedure to be followed in establishing an American consular office in a foreign country is quite clear. Application would be made through the American diplomatic mission for provisional recognition of the consular officer concerned. Subsequently he would transmit his commission to the appropriate foreign authority and receive his formal exequatur.
During 1939, in reply to inquiry addressed to the Danish Foreign Office, we were informed that in view of the special status of Greenland the jurisdiction of the American Consul General at Copenhagen was not considered to extend over Greenland; that in fact there was no record of any application having been made of the Danish Government by a foreign government for permission to establish a consulate in Greenland.
It may be assumed, therefore, that should a request now be made of the Danish Government for recognition of an American consular officer in Greenland, such application would be refused. However, if, as is understood to be the case, the policy of the United States Government is to consider the Danish Sovereign and Government as unable under present circumstances to exercise their authority in Danish possessions beyond the seas, there would seem to be no necessity, either from the standpoint of policy or as a practical matter, to approach the Danish Government itself with regard to recognition of an American consular officer having jurisdiction in Greenland.
The Danish Sovereign and Government being unable, in the view of the United States Government, to exercise their authority in Greenland, this Government would appear to be complying to the extent practicable with customary international usage if it sought and obtained provisional permission for the establishment of a consulate in Greenland from the local authorities in Greenland. In the absence of information to the contrary it may be presumed that these authorities are now in de facto control of the Greenland administration.
Since there appears to be no single official exercising authority in Greenland (other than the Director of the Greenland Administration residing in Copenhagen and now unable to fulfill his functions due to [Page 346] the military occupation of Denmark by German troops) it would seem that the de facto authority in Greenland is now vested jointly in the Resident Commissioners for the Provinces of North Greenland and South Greenland.