740.00116 European War/1332: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

1566. The communication quoted below has just been received from the Foreign Office. The conclusions reached are in harmony with the position which you directed me to take in opposition to the establishment of a separate Technical Committee of Legal Experts. It was partly because of my intervention and suggestion in collaboration with Mr. Pell and Mr. Eden that the following procedure has been recommended [Page 1282] by the British Secretary of State. I hope the Department will concur in these recommendations. The text of the communication dated February 24 is as follows:

“You will recall that at the meeting of Allied diplomatic representatives held at the Foreign Office on the 20th October 1943 to make arrangements for the establishment of the United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes,23 it was agreed that it would be desirable to set up in due course, in addition to the Commission, a Technical Committee of Legal Experts to make recommendations to the governments concerned upon matters of a politico-legal nature relating to the punishment of war criminals. It was, however, at the same time agreed that the actual establishment of this Committee should be deferred.

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom understand that the consensus of opinion among the members of the United Nations Commission now is that the most suitable procedure would be for the Commission itself to consider and make recommendations upon these general questions and for no Technical Committee of the nature originally proposed to be established. It appears that the Commission has already agreed to set up three sub-committees to consider respectively (1) Facts and evidence; (2) means and methods of enforcement; (3) legal questions.
Having regard to the views of the members of the Commission upon this subject, His Majesty’s Government are in the circumstances inclined to agree that their proposal for the establishment of a Technical Committee should not be proceeded with and that the functions with which it was originally proposed that the Technical Committee should be entrusted should now be assumed by the Commission itself. His Majesty’s Government consider that it would be convenient if any government represented on the Commission were at liberty to send a special representative, should it so desire, to sit with the members of the Commission when matters of this nature are under discussion, and they assume that this would present no difficulty. They would be glad to receive confirmation that Your Excellency’s Government is in agreement with this course.”24

  1. See telegram 7238, October 21, 1943, from London, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 421.
  2. The Department’s concurrence was transmitted in telegram 1629, March 4, 2 p.m., to London (740.00116 European War/1332).