Memorandum of Discussion in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State (Acheson)

After their meeting with the Secretary of State, the British Ambassador, the Soviet Ambassador and the Chinese Ambassador accompanied Mr. Acheson to his office to discuss some points in the draft plan for the establishment of a United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Mr. Noel Hall, British Minister, Mr. Liu Chieh, Minister and Counselor of the Chinese Embassy, and Mr. Roy Veatch of the Department of State also were present.

Mr. Acheson invited the Ambassadors to discuss the points raised by the British Government, the Soviet Government and the Chinese Government in their communications to this Government, these having been transmitted to the Ambassadors in a Department of State memorandum of January 8, 1943.

The following is a résumé of the ensuing discussion:

1. The suggestion of the United Kingdom Government that the membership of the Policy Committee be expanded to seven so as to include Canada and two other countries.

Mr. Acheson reported that Secretary Hull had come to the conclusion that it would be unwise to change the draft at this point, at least until some satisfactory solution could be found for the difficulties that otherwise might result.

The Soviet Ambassador said that he surmised that his Government insists on the draft as it stands on this point because of the fear that the other European Governments might find it difficult to reach agreement on the membership of only one of their number on the Policy Committee, because it should be easier for four members to reach agreement and expedite action than for seven members, and because a decision to add to the Policy Committee other Powers in addition to the four Powers would set a pattern which might be embarrassing on other occasions when quite different matters might require decisions or action by the four Powers.

The British Ambassador said that his instructions from his Government were very explicit on this point and that he was firmly bound by them. He knew that the United Kingdom Government was convinced that the cordial cooperation of the supplying countries and the general cooperation of the rest of the United Nations was needed if the proposed Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was to be successful. He laid particular stress upon the importance of the full cooperation of Canada among those nations likely to be principal suppliers. He added, however, that speaking for himself alone he was impressed with the Soviet Ambassador’s reference to the influence which this [Page 854] pattern might have on future decisions regarding other matters, and he said that he would be glad to communicate to his Government any other suggestions that might be made with reference to this point.

The Chinese Ambassador had not had time to communicate with his Government regarding this question but he recognized its importance and also the importance of the proposal that decisions of the Policy Committee should be reached only by unanimous vote.

It was thought that the specific reference in paragraph 4 of Article III to the Inter-Allied Committee on European Post-War Relief might be strengthened so as to enlist the interest and cooperation of the European Allied Governments and it was suggested that the cordial cooperation of the supplying countries might be secured more easily if some reference were made to a specific standing committee on supplies on which would be represented Canada and the other principal supplying countries.

2. The suggestion of the Soviet Government that Article I should be so amended as to require the consent of the government of the state receiving relief as regards the forms these activities may take in that state, and as to admit of ways by which the government of the country receiving relief may undertake the whole responsibility for relief measures within its territory—and the suggestion of the Chinese Government that field operation plans of the Director General should be agreed to by the country concerned and that any differences between them should be referred for settlement to the Policy Committee.

Mr. Acheson indicated that it was the view of the United States Government that it would be difficult to cover these points in the draft in any more explicit form, especially because such a provision might cause embarrassment in dealings with the former enemy governments and in determining the proper governments with which to deal in unsettled territories. He explained however that it was clearly intended that in Soviet territory the Soviet Government would be the appropriate United Nations authority and that relief and rehabilitation measures and activities in that territory would be subject to the kind of relationship proposed in the Soviet Government’s memorandum. With respect to the point made by the Chinese Government Mr. Acheson explained that it was clearly intended that in Chinese territory the Chinese Government would be the appropriate United Nations authority and that plans for field operations in that territory would of necessity be developed in agreement with the Chinese Government. He expressed the hope that ways could be found for making this intention clear without a change in the draft.

The Soviet Ambassador said that he had no further instruction on the point. He felt that the anticipated difficulties in unsettled territories would not develop and that the United Nations would be forced [Page 855] to recognize some government in each territory without delay. He did recognize greater validity in the case of the views expressed by Mr. Acheson with reference to the governments of former enemy territories. He wished to know the views of the British Ambassador on this entire question.

In response the British Ambassador said that he did not feel strongly on the matter but he believed that it would be wise to leave as much latitude as possible so that the United Nations Administration might not be too restricted in its dealings with governments in former enemy countries or in unsettled areas.

3. The Soviet Government’s suggestion that the Director General will regularly report on his activities to the Policy Committee which will periodically either confirm the powers of the Director General or recommend to the Council a new candidate for this post.

At Mr. Acheson’s suggestion it was agreed that the draft should be so amended (paragraph 5 of Article IV) as to require periodical reports from the Director General to the Policy Committee as well as the Council, and to place with the Policy Committee rather than the Director General the determination of such portions of the reports as should be kept confidential until the end of the war.

Mr. Acheson then referred to the desirability of insuring to the Director General sufficient administrative freedom and continuity of tenure to enable him to administer his great responsibilities effectively. He said that at the same time his Government recognized the desirability of some definite means of terminating the Director General’s responsibilities if he should lose the confidence of the Policy Committee, and he offered the suggestion therefore that paragraph 1 of Article IV should provide that the Director General might be removed from office by unanimous vote of the Policy Committee.

The Soviet Ambassador expressed the view that it would be very harsh to remove a Director General from office and that it would be easier and less embarrassing for the Policy Committee merely to fail to reelect him. He agreed however that Mr. Acheson’s suggestion met the point raised by the Soviet Government to some degree.

In reply to the Soviet Ambassador’s comments Mr. Acheson said that he assumed that a Director General who had lost the confidence of the Policy Committee would be given an opportunity to resign so that he would not be embarrassed by a direct dismissal.

The British Ambassador expressed the opinion that the Director General should be given the fullest possible executive power subject to the control of the Policy Committee and the Council on matters of policy; therefore he agreed with Mr. Acheson’s proposal. He suggested that the most desirable alternative to this proposal, if it were necessary to find an alternative, would be to set the Director General’s [Page 856] term of office at a definite period of time, certainly not less than two or three years.

The Soviet Ambassador agreed to submit to his Government the suggestion offered by Mr. Acheson.

4. The Soviet Government’s suggestion that all decisions of the Policy Committee should be unanimous.

Mr. Acheson reported that his Government would prefer a specific requirement of a unanimous vote at each point in the draft where it might be agreed that unanimity was desirable. In his opinion it would be desirable to require only a majority vote (three of the four members of the Committee) at all other points, where the decisions might be of minor importance; this arrangement would guard against the possibility of delay and indecision arising from the opposition of an individual member on minor matters on which he might hold some personal opinion quite independent of any instruction from his Government.

The Soviet Ambassador said that he could not imagine a situation in which an individual would obstruct action as a personal matter but he said that he would gladly submit Mr. Acheson’s proposal to his Government.

The Chinese Ambassador and the British Ambassador expressed agreement with the proposal submitted by Mr. Acheson.

5. The Soviet Government’s suggestion that regional committees be given “powers” as well as consultative functions and the importance attached by the British Government to giving as much scope as possible to the regional committee which would deal with European relief and rehabilitation.

Mr. Acheson explained his Government’s conception of the functions of the regional committees as purely concerned with policy and not with executive or administrative functions.

The British Ambassador expressed the opinion that Mr. Acheson’s explanation was satisfactory. At his request Mr. Hall then explained the British Government’s concern regarding the scope of the regional committees’ work. He expressed no disagreement with the idea that the committees’ functions should be limited to policy matters but he did urge the British view that the regional committees might be more effective than the Council itself in developing policy since they would be able to meet much more frequently and would be able to do more detailed work close to the actual problems.

It was agreed that Mr. Acheson should consider the possibility of submitting a redraft of paragraph 4 of Article III covering the points discussed.

6. The Soviet Government’s statement that with regard to that part of the Administration’s activities which will have to do with relief during the war, it reserves to itself the right to abstain from [Page 857] participation in the solution of problems which may arise in connection with relief to the population of countries in a state of war with countries with which the Soviet Union is not at war.

Mr. Acheson said that his Government would raise no objection to such a reservation. Likewise no objection was raised by the others present.

7. The Chinese Government’s suggestion that Article VIII of the draft (Draft No. 2—Revised) should be modified so as to provide for amendment of the provisions of the agreement by a majority vote of the Council and of the Policy Committee.

Mr. Acheson expressed the opinion that such a modification would be undesirable because it might open the way to changes of great importance without the full support of the great majority of the member Powers. The Soviet Ambassador and the British Ambassador expressed agreement with this judgment.

It was agreed that Mr. Acheson should submit to each of the Ambassadors a résumé of the group’s discussion together with a draft statement covering modification of the draft with reference to points raised by their Governments, this draft statement then to be submitted by them to their Governments for consideration. It was also agreed that Mr. Acheson should be informed as soon as each Ambassador receives a response from his Government and that a further discussion should be held as soon as all of the replies are received.