Lot 60–D 224, Box 58: D.O./Conv.B/JFG Record 4

Informal Record of the Fourth Meeting of the Joint Formulation Group

  • Present:
    • Dr. Koo, Presiding
    • China: Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo, Chairman; Dr. Victor Hoo; Dr. Liu Chieh.
      • Advisers: Dr. Liang.
    • United Kingdom: Mr. Gladwyn Jebb, Acting Chairman; Major General M. F. Grove-White; Professor C. K. Webster.
    • United States: Mr. Pasvolsky, Acting Chairman; Mr. Dunn; Mr. Grew.
      • Advisers and secretaries: Mrs. Brunauer; Mr. Gerig; Mr. Notter; Mr. Sandifer.

1. Liquidation of the League

Membership Problem in Transition From the League of Nations to the New General International Organization

At the request of the Chairman, Mr. Pasvolsky presented the problem of arranging for liquidation of the League of Nations and assignment of its assets and liabilities to the new Organization. He pointed out that there are still 45 members of the League of which 29 are United Nations or Associated Nations (including France in this category). The following 16 nations are not United or Associated Nations: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Eire, Esthonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and Turkey.

In the course of the discussion it was brought out that 4 of the 16 are enemy states: Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, and Thailand; and that three—Esthonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—constitute a special case. Thus 9 states whose rights as League members should be considered are left outside the list of United and Associated Nations and will therefore not be among the initial members of the new Organization.

Professor Webster emphasized the importance of making the transition in a decent and orderly fashion, with due regard for the rights of the League members that are not among the United and Associated Nations. Mr. Jebb suggested that there would be very little difficulty if such states were to become members of the new Organization immediately. Otherwise, they might be reluctant to have the League dissolved.

The Chairman thought that some procedure could be worked out that would leave no loopholes for claims or recriminations, especially [Page 886] since a large majority of the states members of the League are United or Associated Nations.

Procedures Suggested for the Transition

A Special Protocol. Mr. Pasvolsky said that as a possible procedure, a protocol might be drawn up at the conference for the new Organization, to be signed by the 29 members of the League. This protocol might cover their agreement to liquidate the League or to assign their rights and privileges as League members to the new Organization.

In the discussion of this method of procedure it was emphasized by Professor Webster and Mr. Jebb that the states not invited to the conference should not be presented with a document which they would be expected to sign without having had any part in its negotiation.

Conference of Signatories to the Versailles Treaty. Professor Webster raised the point that the League of Nations had been set up by a treaty and that the signatories of the treaty might perhaps legally liquidate it.

It was generally agreed that this would be a cumbersome procedure and not very satisfactory. Mr. Pasvolsky thought it might not be right for a signatory of the treaty that is not a member of the League to act on its dissolution.

Action by the United Nations Conference or the Organization. The Chairman suggested as a possibility that the conference for the new Organization might appoint a committee with authority broad enough not only to devise ways and means of carrying out whatever principles might be adopted by the Conference for the purpose but to approach the League of Nations and negotiate an agreement for its liquidation.

Mr. Pasvolsky said that the matter might not have to be taken up until the Organization had actually come into operation. Professor Webster and Mr. Dunn thought that the general conference or the Organization should probably take the initiative and should state what it was prepared to do in assuming the obligations and functions of the League. There seemed to be general agreement that the initiative could suitably be taken by the United Nations Conference or the Organization itself.

Action by the League of Nations. Another possibility suggested was that the Council or Assembly of the League of Nations might meet and consider the problem. The Chairman thought that it would not be too difficult for the Council to meet and act. Mr. Pasvolsky suggested that it might be preferable for the Assembly to take action on this question. Dr. Hoo added that the Council or Assembly could assign to the secretariat the task of devising a solution.

Previous Agreement by the Four Governments. Dr. Hoo asked whether the four governments that had participated in the Washington [Page 887] Conversations should not agree on a plan to present to the general conference.

Mr. Jebb suggested that the four governments might study the problem and exchange papers within the next two or three months. Professor Webster said that the British Government was already making some informal studies. Pie thought that at this stage only research papers could be exchanged. Mr. Pasvolsky thought the suggestion a very good one. The Chairman said that the Chinese had not done any substantial work on the problem but would be willing to take it up more definitely now.

Other Problems Involved in Liquidation and Transition

Mandates and Minorities. The Chairman pointed out that there were certain special problems connected with transition that should be considered, for example, arrangements with respect to the mandates system and the minorities agreements.

Professor Webster stated that there were important differences between mandates and minorities, especially since the Covenant, in Article 22, set up machinery for dealing with mandates. Arrangements for the protection of minorities rested upon agreements made outside the League. Mr. Pasvolsky said that the mandates system also rested partly on agreements outside the League, referring particularly to the treaties of peace at the end of the last war. He suggested that there would need to be a consideration of the problem of the mandates before the general United Nations Conference.

Assets and Liabilities. Mr. Dunn and Professor Webster emphasized that the new Organization should offer to take over the liabilities and responsibilities of the League as well as its assets. Dr. Hoo mentioned the League Library as a valuable asset. Mr. Pasvolsky thought that the adjustment would be fairly simple provided the League members agreed to the basic proposition.

Treaties Assigning Duties and Powers to the League of Nations. Professor Webster stated that it would be very useful if a blanket protocol could be drawn up to transfer to the new Organization the duties and powers assigned to the League Council in hundreds of treaties. He pointed out that in many cases it had been agreed that certain types of disputes should be referred to the Council; in others, the Council had been authorized to appoint certain commissions and other bodies that were not League organs.

Dr. Hoo doubted that the transfer could be made automatic in all cases, because of differences in function between the League Council and the Security Council of the new Organization. Professor Webster believed that most of the duties and powers assigned under these treaties would be suitable for the new Council.

[Page 888]

2. Informal Exchange of Papers Among the Four Governments

Mr. Pasvolsky proposed that Mr. Jebb’s suggestion of an informal exchange of papers on the problem of liquidation of the League of Nations should be followed. Professor Webster emphasized that the governments could not be committed to any policies at this stage. He suggested that if informal discussions were to be held they should be in London, where the representatives of a number of League members; were easily accessible and where the Secretary-General of the League might be brought in. Mr. Pasvolsky thought that it was proper that any discussions of this question should not take place in a country that was not a member of the League.

Mr. Pasvolsky said that the Soviet Government should be informed of this plan and invited to submit any ideas it might have about arrangements with regard to the League. This was agreed to.

It was agreed that the proposed exchange should be carried out with no specific time limits set. As soon as any Government had its papers prepared they should be communicated to the other governments.92

The meeting adjourned at 11:10 a.m.

  1. See memorandum of November 21, p. 915.