RSC Lot 60–D 224, Box 54: ISO Doc. 243

Record of Informal Meeting With Diplomatic Representatives of Certain American Republics, Held at Washington, January 31, 1945, 3 p.m.82

[Informal Notes]

The Acting Secretary began the meeting with a few remarks. He said that he would like to say first of all that all those who had taken part in the Dumbarton Oaks discussions realized that there were few [Page 40] subjects more important today than that of establishing the postwar organization. He then said that because of the importance of the present discussions on the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals and of the short length of time before the Mexico City Conference, he hoped that good progress could be made at this meeting toward completing the discussion of the Proposals. He said that Dr. Pasvolsky would be happy to continue his comments on the views advanced by the various governments in as much as several of the Chiefs of Mission present had expressed the wish that Dr. Pasvolsky do so. He said that further comment of the Chiefs of Mission on each subject as it was taken up would be most welcome.

Mr. Grew then said that he would have to request to be allowed to leave the meeting because of other appointments and he turned the meeting over to Assistant Secretary Rockefeller.

The Ambassador of Chile stated that he would like to have a correction made in the minutes of the meeting of December 29, 1944,82a concerning the discussion that took place on paragraph 1 of Chapter I of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. He said that he thought the record of the discussion had not been quite correctly given as regards the inclusion of a statement of the purpose of “assuring respect for international treaties.” It was his recollection that although at that meeting no decision was made to include this phrase in the statement of purposes and principles, it was agreed that it was essential and that the only question was as to where it should be inserted. Following a brief discussion on this matter it was suggested by Mr. Rockefeller that Señor Mora and Dr. Pasvolsky discuss the point together and draft a statement for inclusion in the minutes of the meeting today. Señor Mora said he believed it was not necessary to make a statement; that it would be sufficient to record his words in the minutes of the present meeting. The record of Dr. Pasvolsky’s remarks in question is as follows:

Dr. Pasvolsky said that in his view the subject of respect for international obligations, including treaties, was inherent in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. He added, however, that it might be worthwhile to discuss at some stage the advisability of enumerating specifically this and similar points, and, if the conclusion reached favors such an enumeration, then decide in what precise place in the final document the point should be introduced.

The Ambassador of Honduras commented that the memorandum of his Government also suggested that there be a stipulation in the Proposals concerning respect for treaties. He said that it was his recollection that at the meeting on December 29 the question was brought up as to whether or not this concept was included in the [Page 41] principles of International Law and that he at that time raised the question, if it were not, why the American republics had accepted and adhered to this principle. He said that it was then that Dr. Pasvolsky had agreed it would be convenient to include this phrase in the Proposal in some way.

The Ambassador of Chile agreed with the remarks of the Ambassador of Honduras but stated that he had not at the time agreed that the principle of “respect for international treaties” was included in the rules of international law, in as much as international law, not yet being clearly defined, could hardly be said to comprise this principle.

The Ambassador of Venezuela called attention to a correction to be made on page 6 of the minutes of January 26. He stated that he did not recall having brought up the question of unanimity and believed this remark had been incorrectly attributed to him. With these corrections, the minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Discussion of the Proposals then began with Chapter VI. Dr. Pasvolsky referred to Section A on the composition of the Security Council remarking that several points had been brought out in the commentaries regarding the size of the Council, the number of permanent seats, and specific provisions for representation. He said that as regards the composition of the Council, two broad considerations must be taken into account: The Council must be efficient and effective, and it must be representative. He stated that the provision for permanent seats on the Council was related to the responsibilities in the performance of its principal functions, and was conditioned upon the ability and willingness of the powers who did have permanent seats to carry out the heavy responsibilities that would rest upon them. He said that the provision for the five countries specified as permanent members was related to the fact that those countries now represented the preponderance of military and industrial power in the world.

With reference to the number of nonpermanent states, Dr. Pasvolsky spoke of the original Council of the League of Nations, which had five permanent and four nonpermanent members at its inception, a total of nine which gradually increased until just before the war there were fifteen members on the Council. He explained that at the Dumbarton Oaks discussions it was concluded that one point must be established at the very start: The Council must have more nonpermanent than permanent members in order to avoid a situation in which a decision of the Council could be taken solely by the votes of the permanent members.83 He stressed the points that the selection of [Page 42] members of the League Council was in general made on the basis of a careful consideration of its being representative of the various areas of the world; that the American Republics were always represented on that Council; and that he could not imagine any situation in which they would not be so represented again. Dr. Pasvolsky thought that it would be inadvisable, however, at this stage to prescribe rules for the selection by the Assembly of nonpermanent members, since other criteria than regional representation have already been proposed.

In reply to an inquiry from the Chairman as to whether there were any further questions, The Ambassador of Chile stated that there were no particular ones but that there was still a great deal to be said. He said that, however, since whatever there was to say had already teen said and summarized by the Coordinating Committee, and since decisions were not to be arrived at in these meetings it would not be advisable to repeat what all already knew.

The Ambassador of Brazil commented on the composition of the Council, suggesting that it was necessary that Latin America be permanently represented on that body. He then referred to Chapter I, paragraph 1, of the Proposals and emphasized the preventative purpose of the Organization.

Mr. Rockefeller and The Ambassador of Venezuela suggested that the remarks of the Ambassador of Brazil should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. The following are Ambassador Martins’ remarks quoted in translation:

At the last meeting of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union, Chapter VI of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals being up for discussion, and Mr. Pasvolsky having declared that it would be desirable to discuss such matters as might be subject of negotiations at the forthcoming conferences of Mexico and of the United Nations, Ambassador Carlos Martins requested permission to make known the viewpoint of Brazil concerning such an important subject.

Ambassador Martins stated that Latin America, from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea throughout the length of the coasts of the Republics of South America, constitutes the most accessible and effective zone for an attack by the European nations against the United States and the most vulnerable point of the entire continent.

It is intended that the Council of the International Organization should take immediate and effective measures to preserve and maintain peace.

Considering the vulnerability of Latin America, it would be inadmissible to exclude it from a permanent seat on the Council. Such exclusion would be equivalent to exposing the Latin American Republics to all the dangers and consequences of an attack or of a war without giving them any guarantee of permanent participation in the body which is vital for the preservation of peace.

[Page 43]

In addition, according to the terms of Chapter I of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, the Council would be empowered to take effective collective measures to prevent and eliminate any threats to peace and, therefore, to take cognizance of all disagreements, essentially of a universal rather than local nature, which might constitute threats to peace.

The present war has shown in a very forceful way the dangers that threaten us when a conflict takes place in any part of the world. Latin America, therefore, cannot be absent from participation in the consideration of all questions when efforts are being made to settle international controversies which might lead to conflicts by peaceful means. The continued cooperation of Latin America in peace as well as in war requires that it be given a permanent seat on the Council.

These reasons become weightier when the action of the Council would envisage not only the maintenance of peace by force, but above all the avoidance of aggression and the outbreak of hostilities.

Referring to paragraph 1 of Section B, Chapter VI, Dr. Pasvolsky again explained the basic theory underlying the proposed separation of functions as between the two principal organs. He said that in order to achieve prompt and effective action by the organization in the field of security, the necessary powers must be assigned to a body which while representing the whole group of nations associated in the organization, will be in a position to act quickly and effectively when the need arises. The role to be played by the Assembly, he said, was to maintain harmonious conditions in which resort to measures for the maintenance of the peace will be less frequent and less necessary. In that connection he mentioned the difficulties created in the League by the fact that the same responsibilities were lodged in two bodies.

Dr. Pasvolsky said that the question raised in this paragraph was related to another point involved in the first paragraph of Section D of this Chapter on Procedure, i.e., that of the continuous functioning of the Security Council. He said that since, as pointed out by the Ambassador of Brazil, the primary function of the organization would be one of prevention, and the factors in the process of prevention were constant alertness, constant knowledge of what was happening, and a constant readiness to take hold of the situation before it went too far, such functioning was possible only in a body capable of being in continuous session. He pointed out the value of continuous meetings so indispensable to the performance by the Council of the duties assigned to it: i.e., they would provide the participants with the opportunity of working together on problems of mutual concern without being delayed by the necessity of calling special meetings. The special meetings would, however, permit the governments of the various members to be represented, if they so desired, by persons other than their permanent delegates.

[Page 44]

The Ambassador of Chile repeated the recommendation of his Government,84 that the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security be vested in the Council only during the periods when the Assembly was not in session.

Further discussion of paragraph 4 was deferred until consideration of the Court should be started.

In connection with paragraph 5, Dr. Pasvolsky called upon General Strong,85 who explained that the problem of trying to specify all regulations of armaments was extremely complicated, involving as it did, considerations of such matters as production, distribution, use, character, and size of armaments. He said that considerations of what would constitute the field of armaments had for years plagued the League. Therefore, for the purposes of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, it had been decided that it would be much better to plan for a system of regulation and leave to the conference when called the decision as to limitations to be imposed in that particular field.86

As regards the additional paragraphs 6, 7, and 8, proposed in the Chilean memorandum (the first two of which had already been covered in general terms), it was decided, since paragraph 8 deals with the obligations to provide armed forces, requiring special agreements, that discussion of this point should be postponed. The same decision was made regarding the additional paragraph 9 on nonparticipation of members. It was also felt that Panama’s comment on Section B as a whole did not require any discussion.

Dr. Pasvolsky explained that the Venezuelan comment87 on Section B as a whole related to the long statement he had made before on the distribution of power between the Assembly and the Council and that obviously the whole question would have to be considered as a part of the broad problem of distribution of powers.

It was agreed that discussion of Section C, Voting, would be premature at this time.

With reference to Section D, Procedure, Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the first point had already been discussed together with the observations made by the governments of Mexico and Venezuela.

[Page 45]

There followed a short discussion between Dr. Pasvolsky and the Ambassador of Mexico with reference to Mexico’s proposal for paragraph 4. The Ambassador expressed his belief that a proposal such as that made by his Government was obviously just because a country had the right to defend itself in any matter of interest to it, and that the decision in this matter should be left to the country concerned. It was agreed that this was an important question requiring further consideration.

Chapter VII on the Court was next briefly touched upon. Dr. Pasvolsky stated that considerations of jurisdiction must be discussed in connection with the statute to be prepared for the Court. Referring to paragraph 3 of this Chapter, he said that in as much as there was agreement that the statute should be either the existing one continuing in force or a new one, the question again had been left open and would come up in connection with the discussion of the definitive statute. He said that the fundamental principles connected with the Court were: (1) there would be a Court; (2) it would be a part of the general organization and would operate on the basis of a statute which was part of the basic charter; (3) all members of the organization would ipso facto be parties to the Court; (4) nonmembers might be permitted to adhere to the statute, but decision on when they would be permitted to do so would be made by the General Assembly upon recommendation of the Security Council.

Mr. Sandifer was requested to comment on the difference between alternatives (a) and (b) in paragraph 3. He stated that in the first alternative the principal question involved was whether the legal continuity of the Court should be maintained. One way to establish the Court was to take the present statute, revise it, and continue it in existence, on the basis of that statute, with such revisions, additions or changes as might be necessary. This would have the advantage of maintaining the organic continuity of the Court. As regards alternative (b), he explained that a new statute might be drafted, based substantially on the present one and of the same general framework. There would be no great departure from the present statute of the Court; this statute could be put into operation without having to go through the procedure of revision and of securing the consent of all the existing members.

The Ambassador of Mexico expressed an opinion that the fact that two alternatives had been included in paragraph 3 evidenced that the framers of the Proposals themselves had not yet reached a definite decision, and that since it was the fundamental principle which must be borne in mind, nothing would be accomplished by going into a lengthy academic discussion on the subject at this time.

Dr. Pasvolsky clarified a point in connection with the commentary by the government of Brazil. He stated that the statute of the Court [Page 46] was to be annexed to and be a part of the Charter of the Organization, which meant that any country adhering to the Charter of the Organization would automatically adhere to the statute of the Court. He agreed that the Brazilian Government was right in saying that if left to a future agreement, it would lead to a contradiction.

Discussion of the proposals ended here and the meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m. It was agreed that the next meeting would be held on Monday, February 5, at 3:00 p.m.

  1. Present at this meeting were Acting Secretary Grew, Assistant Secretary Rockefeller, certain other American officials, and Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions of the American Republics except Argentina and El Salvador.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 954.
  3. See memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius) to President Roosevelt, August 28, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 737.
  4. For text of memorandum from the Chilean Embassy, December 11, 1944, transmitting the comments of the Chilean Government on the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, see doc. 2, G7(i), May 2, UNCIO Documents, vol. 3, p. 282.
  5. Maj. Gen. George V. Strong of the War Department.
  6. See memorandum by Under Secretary Stettinius, September 19, 1944, and chapter VI, section B, paragraph 5 of Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 824 and 894, respectively.
  7. For a memorandum of October 31, 1944, transmitting the observations of the Government of Venezuela on the recommendations adopted at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference for the creation of a peace organization, see doc. 2, G/7 (d), (1), UNCIO Documents, vol. 3, p. 189.