Lot 60–D 224, Box 56: D.O./Conv.A/JSC Mins. 1–12

Informal Minutes of Meeting No. 6 of the Joint Steering Committee Held at 11 a.m., August 28, at Dumbarton Oaks

Present: Sir Alexander Cadogan and Mr. Jebb of the British group;
Ambassador Gromyko, Mr. Sobolev, and Mr. Berezhkov of the Soviet group;
Mr. Stettinius, Mr. Dunn, and Mr. Pasvolsky of the American group.
Mr. Hiss also present, as secretary.

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The Committee then proceeded to a consideration of topic 3 (Composition of the Council). Ambassador Gromyko inquired whether [Page 739] the American group had as yet formulated its view on the question of the number of permanent and of non-permanent seats. Mr. Stettinius replied that the initial American position had favored provision for four permanent seats and seven non-permanent seats, thus making a total of eleven seats on the Council. Mr. Stettinius went on to say that the later American opinion had been to add France as a fifth permanent member. He said that he wished to point out at this time that, at some later time, the American group may wish to discuss a possible sixth additional permanent seat on the Council for one of the Latin American countries.

Ambassador Gromyko inquired which one of the Latin American countries the American group had in mind. In reply, Mr. Pasvolsky said that we had thought that perhaps Brazil might be given a permanent seat. Mr. Sobolev inquired at what point of time Brazil should be added. Mr. Stettinius stated that the American group is not at present making an actual proposal as to Brazil and is, therefore, not suggesting any particular time for such an addition to the number of permanent seats.

At Mr. Stettinius’ request, Mr. Dunn explained that because of the extremely important place which Brazil occupies in the relations between this Hemisphere and the rest of the world the American group has felt that it might like to bring that question up at some later time. Ambassador Gromyko inquired whether it was contemplated that reference to Brazil would be included in the agreed recommendations resulting from the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations. In reply, Mr. Stettinius said that provision might be made in the agreed recommendations that a place should be reserved for France and for one of the Latin American countries. Ambassador Gromyko pointed out that the Soviet group considers it necessary to underline that it is in favor of limiting the permanent members of the Council to the representatives of four powers and later of five powers including France.

The discussion then turned to the question of how many non-permanent members should have seats on the Council. It was stated by the American representatives that in the American view there might perhaps be six permanent members and six non-permanent members, or again, provision might be made for six permanent and for five non-permanent members. Mr. Pasvolsky stated that if the tenure of the non-permanent members should be lengthened to two years, it would seem desirable to have a divisible number of non-permanent members so that an equal number could be elected each year. Sir Alexander Cadogan said that he, too, thought it advisable to have six elected members on the Council in order to insure the election of an equal number each year.

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[Page 740]

After further discussion there appeared to be general agreement that it would be desirable to provide for at least five permanent members including France and six non-permanent members. It was made plain that if France did not have a generally recognized government at the time of the initiation of the Organization a permanent seat should nonetheless be reserved for France. Sir Alexander Cadogan said that he would wish to reserve his position as to whether the Council should undertake to determine when France had a responsible government. He pointed out that perhaps the three Governments might wish to decide this question for themselves before action on that subject was taken by the Council. He said that he has had fairly clear indication that his Government feels that the earlier France can be brought in, the better.

The Committee then proceeded to discuss the question of the tenure of non-permanent members. There seemed to be tentative agreement on an ad referendum basis that perhaps a two-year term, as proposed by the Soviet group, would be desirable. Sir Alexander Cadogan emphasized that he could not give final approval to a two-year term because he has been asked to press for a three-year term. He was willing, however, to let the appropriate formulation group go ahead with the drafting of a provision providing for a two-year term.

The Committee then briefly discussed once more the question of expulsion of members, and Ambassador Gromyko restated the Soviet position that a provision for expulsion should be included in the basic document. He added that the Soviet group is studying the question of whether or not a provision for suspension should be included in addition. There seemed to be general agreement that the appropriate formulation group might profitably draw up a tentative provision for suspension, this provision to be brought before the Steering Committee for examination.

The Committee then discussed topic 6 (Should parties to a dispute vote?). Mr. Stettinius said that the American group has come to the conclusion that a “guilty” party should not vote in its own case, no matter who that party might be. It was indicated that on this point the British and American groups are in agreement. Ambassador Gromyko said that his group is of the opinion that some special procedure should be worked out to cover cases in which one of the great powers is touched by a dispute. He said that his group had not considered the question of what that procedure should be in as much as they had anticipated, on the basis of the American document, that the American group might bring forward a proposal providing for such a special procedure. In response to a question by Sir Alexander Cadogan, Ambassador Gromyko said that his group might be able to propose such a special procedure at some time during the Dumbarton [Page 741] Oaks Conversations, if it should have worked out something along these lines before the conclusion of these Conversations.

Sir Alexander observed that this is a most important subject. He said that if it is not made clear that great powers which are parties to a dispute cannot vote, the small powers and the great powers will have been put upon a very different footing. He said that without such a provision the great powers would even be able to prevent the Council from considering disputes in which they were parties. This result would be recognized at once when the plan was made public and there would consequently be the greatest difficulty in obtaining general acceptance of the proposed plan. He said that he wished to emphasize that this was the biggest problem with which we are faced and that unless some way out is found great difficulties can be foreseen.

Ambassador Gromyko said that in his opinion the large countries should have a special position consonant with their responsibilities, and again referred to the need of devising a special procedure.

Mr. Pasvolsky then stated that after prolonged consideration the American group had come to the conclusion that it could not devise a satisfactory special procedure to meet this situation. He said that the American group feels so confident that this country will not wish to use force on a unilateral basis that it is willing to recommend that the United States should put itself on the same plane as all other nations of the world in regard to the settling of disputes. He said that the American group had felt that if the United States were ever to conclude that it was not willing to listen to the Council in the event of a dispute in which it might be involved such a conclusion would be practically tantamount to a decision that the United States was ready to go to war with all the rest of the world. He said that the American group could not imagine such a development taking place and it therefore believes that any risks involved in its proposal are outweighed by the advantage of strengthening the Organization by a provision that in this respect all countries be placed on the same footing. Mr. Pasvolsky went on to say that one question in particular had given concern to the American group, namely, what would be the situation if the Organization should undertake to consider questions which under normal rules of international law are reserved to domestic jurisdiction. He said that it was recognized by the American group that some safeguarding formula covering this point will have to be worked out. He said that he feels confident that it can be worked out. He added that there had been another question of detail, i.e., whether the Council could call upon any party to a dispute to furnish forces. He believed that this, too, can be worked out.

The American representatives emphasized that they would, of course, be glad to consider any formula the Soviet group might propose, [Page 742] although they themselves had not been able to find one. Ambassador Gromyko said that if his group developed anything on this during the course of the conversations he would inform the other groups.

Mr. Sobolev then asked whether the American and British position does not violate the basic principle that every decision must be taken jointly by the four great powers. Mr. Pasvolsky pointed out that in the American document the principle of unanimity of the four powers had been set forth but it had been made subject to two subsequent paragraphs. The first of these paragraphs had provided that any power could voluntarily abstain from voting but would nevertheless be bound by the vote taken. He said that this provision had been designed to meet a situation in which a country had no objection to certain action being taken but did not wish to go on record as favoring such action. This provision does not impair the basic principle of unanimity, he said. Mr. Pasvolsky then said that the second paragraph to which he had referred set forth the need of finding some way in which to meet a situation in which one of the four big powers may be involved in a dispute. He pointed out that the American document had put that question in the same category as the question of voluntary abstention from voting. He said that the American group had started with the idea of unqualified unanimity, but had concluded that this would be injurious to the success of the Organization. The American group had reached its conclusion as a result of very full consideration in the course of which attention had been given to the attitude of the American people.

It was brought out that the American and British positions are in accord with the practice of the League.

Ambassador Gromyko stated that he felt that, generally speaking, the American proposal would be a retreat from the principle of unanimity. Mr. Pasvolsky observed that some members of the American group feel, on the contrary, that it would strengthen the principle in its essential aspects. Sir Alexander Cadogan observed that, in any event, any other decision would detract from other important principles of justice and equity.

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There was then some discussion of the question of the initial membership of the Organization.…

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… It was made clear that the American proposal includes not only the initial signatories of the United Nations Declaration and those countries which have subsequently adhered to that Declaration, but also a few additional countries which have broken relations with Germany and are cooperating in the war effort. It is these latter countries which are covered by the term “Associated Nations”.

[Page 743]

It was agreed that a tentative list for purposes referred to above should be drawn up in the appropriate formulation group.

At this point Ambassador Gromyko stated that all of the sixteen Soviet Republics should be included among the initial members of the Organization. Sir Alexander Cadogan said that he had no comment to make on this point at this stage, but that he felt that his Government will have to discuss with the Soviet Government the question of the international status of the Soviet Republics. The American representatives said that they will have to think about Ambassador Gromyko’s proposal.24

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  1. In his Diary of August 28, Mr. Stettinius identified this as the meeting “at which our Soviet friends dropped the bombshell in the form of bringing up the famous X-matter, during a discussion of the initial membership of the organization”, and, he added: “We always referred to it as the X matter and kept it out of the regular minutes which were circulated, keeping a special file of a secondary set of minutes with references to it carefully guarded in my safe.”