Memorandum of Discussion in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State (Acheson), March 24, 1943

The British Ambassador, the Soviet Ambassador and the Chinese Ambassador met with Mr. Acheson to discuss further the Draft Agreement for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.37 Mr. Noel Hall, British Minister, and Mr. Roy Veatch of the Department of State were also present.

The particular purpose of this meeting was to consider four amendments to the Draft Agreement proposed by the Soviet Government and transmitted to Mr. Acheson on March 18 by Ambassador Litvinov. The following summarizes the discussion of the four proposals and sets forth the conclusions reached:

Addendum to Article I, paragraph 2 (a)

Mr. Acheson said that he was glad, of course, to accept the substitution of the word “planned” for the word “authorized.”

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As an alternative to the insertion of the words “complete or partial” in the sentence, he suggested that the Minutes of this discussion clarify the meaning of the provision as now drafted; he was sure that all would agree to this proposal since it had been the general understanding from the first that in Soviet territory the Soviet Government would be free to assume full responsibility for relief and rehabilitation measures. Ambassador Litvinov said that such an arrangement would be satisfactory with him, and the others raised no objection. There was full agreement and understanding, therefore, that Article I, paragraph 2(a) as it now stands admits of the possibility of a member nation undertaking, in agreement with the Administration, full responsibility for relief and rehabilitation measures within its territory.

Article III, paragraph 4

Mr. Acheson suggested that the change of the Draft Agreement in this respect was unnecessary since the Central Committee itself could provide that the Governments represented on its membership should also be represented on the Committee on Supplies. He proposed, therefore, that the Minutes of this meeting show agreement on this point as a means of assurance to the Soviet Government.

Ambassador Litvinov said that this arrangement would be satisfactory to him. Ambassador Wei agreed also, and Lord Halifax said that he believed it would be acceptable to his Government but he thought that he should put the question to London so as to be certain. It was agreed that as soon as Lord Halifax should receive instructions on the point, the Minutes of the group’s consideration of this question will carry the following statement:

“There was full agreement and understanding that the membership of the Committee on Supplies, to be determined by the Central Committee, should include the representatives of the four Powers providing the members of the Central Committee.”

Article III, paragraph 5

Ambassador Litvinov explained that the objection of his Government to the wording of the last sentence of the paragraph as it now stands was due to the fact that it had no way of knowing what the work of the Leith-Ross Committee had been, since it was not a member of that Committee. It objected, therefore, to the provision that the work of the Leith-Ross Committee should be carried on by the Committee for Europe.

Mr. Acheson suggested that the objection of the Soviet Government might be met by changing the wording of the last sentence of the paragraph to the following: [Page 886]

“The Committee of the Council for Europe shall replace the Inter-Allied Committee on European post-war relief established in London on September 24, 1941 and the records of the latter shall be made available to the Committee for Europe.”

All agreed on this change.

Article IV, paragraph 4

Mr. Acheson said that the Soviet Government’s proposal, that two Deputy Directors General should be provided for the European region, one Soviet citizen and one British subject, had been discussed with Governor Lehman and others in the Department. Governor Lehman had considered the suggestion that there be a Soviet Deputy Director and a British Deputy Director for the European region quite reasonable provided that there might also be other Deputies and that the Director General should be unhampered in the appointment of such Deputies and in the delegation of responsibility and functions to them. He did not like the difference in category that had been established, under the paragraph as now drafted, between regional Deputies approved by the Central Committee and other Deputies appointed without such approval; he feared that some administrative difficulties or embarrassments might result.

Mr. Acheson suggested, therefore, that the substance of the Soviet Government’s proposal should be achieved by so wording the Draft Agreement as to place all responsibility for the appointment of Deputy Directors General with the Director General without confirmation by the Central Committee in any case, and that agreement should now be reached on the appointment of a Soviet citizen and of a British subject as Deputy Directors General for Europe whenever Deputies are appointed for that region, on the understanding that other Deputies, including an American, might be appointed.

Ambassador Litvinov explained that the only desire of his Government was to be assured that a Soviet citizen should be appointed to such a post. He would be quite willing to have the first sentence of the paragraph under discussion provide that “one or more” Deputies might be appointed for Europe, including a Soviet citizen. He said, however, that Mr. Acheson’s suggestion would be quite acceptable.

Lord Halifax recalled the fact that the provision for a Deputy Director for each region, appointed by the consent of the Central Committee, had been inserted at the suggestion of his Government. Its purpose in proposing this provision had been to make the Draft Agreement as agreeable as possible to the smaller countries, especially those in Europe. He felt that he could not pledge himself immediately to agreement on the proposal—he would be glad, however, to refer the question to London and to explain the proposal to his Government.

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Ambassador Litvinov said that he did not understand what objection the British Government could have to the proposal.

In response Lord Halifax and Mr. Hall explained the position taken by the British Government from the first favoring the appointment of the administrative personnel of the organization purely on a basis of merit and usefulness for given functions without any reference to nationality. It had not been the British Government’s intention to ask for the appointment of a Deputy Director for Europe of British nationality but rather to support the appointment of the best man for the job whatever his nationality might be.

Ambassador Litvinov said that if there were deficiencies in one of the Deputies appointed for Europe, then that might be made up by the others appointed. In any event, his Government wished to have some guarantee that if Deputies are appointed at all for the European region, one should be of Soviet nationality.

Lord Halifax reminded Ambassador Litvinov that it had been agreed that the responsibility for measures within Soviet territory should be the responsibility of the Soviet Government, and he asked why the Soviet Government should therefore be concerned with the appointment of a Soviet Deputy for the entire European region.

In reply Ambassador Litvinov said that two quite separate questions were involved. The Soviet Government did desire to have full responsibility for the work to be done in the Soviet Union but it also had a real interest in the measures to be undertaken elsewhere in Europe.

Ambassador Wei inquired as to how the duties of several Deputies for one region could be determined—it seemed to him that the administrative problem would be much more complicated than would be the case if only one Deputy were appointed. Mr. Acheson agreed that the problem might be more complicated but he expressed the opinion that it could be worked out satisfactorily since the responsibility for delegating authority to these Deputies would rest with the Director General, who should be able to assign to each Deputy those functions for which he was best suited. Ambassador Wei did not offer objection to the proposal.

Mr. Acheson recalled the fact that the Soviet Government had not opposed the original draft which left the entire responsibility for choosing Deputy Directors General with the Director General. He understood that the Soviet Government’s suggestion had been made only after the Draft Agreement had been changed to provide definitely for one Deputy appointed with the consent of the Central Committee. The Soviet Government now strongly desired some reassurance on this point and since Ambassador Litvinov was prepared to accept this Government’s alternative suggestion, Mr. Acheson [Page 888] hoped that the British Government would be able to accept the proposal also.

In the event that the four Governments should prove to be in final agreement on the subject presented by Mr. Acheson, it was agreed that paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article IV should be reworded as follows (the changes in paragraph 5 made to conform to the changes in paragraph 4):

“4. The Director General shall appoint such Deputy Directors General, officers, expert personnel, and staff at his headquarters and elsewhere, including field missions, as he shall find necessary, and he may delegate to them such of his powers as he may deem appropriate. The Director General, or upon his authorization the Deputy Directors General, shall supply such secretariat and other staff and facilities as shall be required by the Council and its committees, including the regional committees and subcommittees. Such Deputy Directors General as shall be assigned special functions within a region shall attend meetings of the regional standing committee whenever possible and shall keep it advised on the progress of the relief and rehabilitation program within the region.

“5. The Director General shall make periodic reports to the Central Committee and to the Council covering the progress of the Administration’s activities. The reports shall be made public except for such portions as the Central Committee may consider it necessary, in the interest of the United Nations, to keep confidential. The Director General shall also arrange to have prepared periodic reports covering the activities of the Administration within each region and he shall transmit such reports with his comments thereon to the Council, the Central Committee and the respective regional committees.”

It was also agreed that when all four Governments are in a position to accept the proposal made by Mr. Acheson, the Minutes of the discussion on this point shall include the following statement:

“There was full agreement and understanding that when Deputy Directors General are appointed for the European region, under the powers placed with the Director General by Article IV, paragraph 4, there shall be included a Deputy Director General of Soviet nationality and a Deputy Director General of British nationality. It was also understood that in addition to such Deputies there might be other Deputies appointed for the European region including one of United States nationality.”

Ambassador Litvinov said that he had already cabled Mr. Acheson’s suggestions to his Government, urgently requesting a response as promptly as possible. Lord Halifax and Ambassador Wei said that they would cable the suggestions to their Governments immediately, each requesting the earliest possible reply.

It was agreed that another, and hopefully the final, discussion would be held as soon as replies had been received from all three Governments.

  1. Preliminary discussions were held by Department officials with officers of the British Embassy on March 22 and with the Soviet Ambassador on March 23. Memoranda of these discussions not printed.