710.Consultation (2)A/47

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of International Conferences (Kelchner)2

I have had further discussions with the Pan American Union concerning the status of the membership of the Inter-American Commission for Territorial Administration of European Colonies and Possessions in the Americas. The Emergency Committee provided by the Act of Habana3 was “Constituted” on October 24, 1940, when the fourteenth American republic appointed its representative.

The Convention on the Provisional Administration of European Colonies and Possessions in the Americas4 became effective on January 8, 1942, when two thirds of the American republics had deposited their respective instruments of ratification. The question arises as to whether the members of the “Emergency Committee” shall constitute the “Inter-American Commission for Territorial Administration” as established by the convention. Neither the convention nor the Act of Habana is clear on this point, although the Act of Habana does state that “as soon as the convention comes into effect, the authority and functions exercised by the committee (Emergency) shall be transferred to the Inter-American Commission for Territorial Administration”. The governments appointed their respective members on the Emergency Committee and no appointments have been made specifically to the Commission under the convention. I think there can [Page 2]be no question but that it was the general intention to have the Emergency Committee merge into the Commission when the convention became effective, although no definite provision is made for that transfer.

All of the governments which have ratified, except Argentina and Colombia, have already designated their representatives on the Emergency Committee. Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, and Nicaragua have designated members on the Emergency Committee but have not yet ratified the convention. (There is attached herewith a list of the members of the Emergency Committee and also a list of the ratifications of the convention.)5

Under the circumstances it would seem advisable for the Governing Board of the Pan American Union to take cognizance of this situation and at its meeting next week take action which will make definitive the establishment of the Inter-American Commission for Territorial Administration. Dr. Manger6 and I have discussed the procedure, and the most feasible solution would seem to be the Governing Board to adopt a resolution calling upon each member government which has ratified the convention to inform the Pan American Union prior to a definite date (in the near future) of its representative in case it wished to designate a representative on the Commission who is other than its representative on the Emergency Committee. This action has the advantage of not endeavoring to interpret the terms of the convention or to commit any government, since it is doubtful whether the Governing Board has the authority to do either of these things. It would have the advantage, however, of establishing definitively the membership of the Commission by placing the responsibility upon each government to take positive action prior to a certain date. I have discussed this procedure with Mr. Barnes7 of TD, who agrees.

If you agree, Dr. Rowe8 might request the Cuban Ambassador to present the matter to the Governing Board since the convention and the act were adopted at Habana. I shall be glad to have your views on the proposed solution as soon as possible so that the Pan American Union may be informed accordingly.

Warren Kelchner
  1. Addressed to the Acting Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Bonsal), to the Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan), and to the Under Secretary of State (Welles).
  2. Provisional Administration of European Colonies and Possessions in the Americas, Act of Habana, contained in the Final Act of the Second Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, signed at Habana July 30, 1940; Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 199; 54 Stat. (pt. 2) 2491.
  3. Signed at Habana, July 30, 1940; for text, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 977, or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1273.
  4. Neither printed.
  5. William Manger, Counselor of the Pan American Union.
  6. Charles M. Barnes, Chief of the Treaty Division.
  7. Leo S. Rowe, Director General of the Pan American Union.