RSC Lot 60–D 224, Box 54: ISO No. 243

Record of Informal Meeting With Diplomatic Representatives of Certain American Republics, Held at Washington, February 9, 1945, 3 p.m.99

[Informal Notes]

The meeting was opened by Assistant Secretary Rockefeller who first welcomed Señor Soto Harrison, Ministro de Gobernación of Costa Rica, as a guest at the meeting. Mr. Rockefeller then said that the discussion would begin with Chapter X of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals on the Secretariat and he asked Dr. Pasvolsky to continue his comments on the Proposals.

With reference to the Venezuelan commentary on paragraph 1 of Chapter X, Dr. Pasvolsky said that in drafting the Proposals it had been thought best to leave the elaboration of details relating to the Secretariat either to the full United Nations Conference or to future determination by the Assembly; that it had obviously been necessary [Page 61] to provide for the existence of the Secretariat and for a chief administrative officer; and that the question of whether or not the naming of assistant secretaries should be incorporated in the Charter would be a matter for discussion at the conference in connection with whatever other elaboration might be desirable. Referring to the suggestion that the names of three instead of one candidate should be submitted, he remarked that this was a matter also to be discussed in connection with the procedure to be established. He said that it had not been thought necessary at this stage to amplify this point because it was a matter that would be discussed anyway by the conference in terms of how much of the future regulations should be embodied in the Charter.

In connection with paragraph 2 which proposes that the Secretary General “should act in that capacity” with regard to the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council, Dr. Pasvolsky explained that it had been necessary to provide for a single chief administrative officer, but that since obviously one man could not do the whole job, assistant secretaries would be necessary. He said that the term for which the Secretary General would be elected had not been specified, the thought having been that this was a matter which should also be discussed and determined at the Conference itself. As regards the Mexican commentary to the effect that the Secretary General be elected for ten years, Dr. Pasvolsky stated that many considerations were involved in this proposal and that if the Secretary General were a good man, it would be desirable to keep him for a long term.

Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the provision in paragraph 3 was something new, in that the Secretary General is given the right to bring to the attention of the Council any matter which may threaten international peace and security. He said he understood by the Venezuelan comment on this paragraph that the Secretary General should have the same right with regard to the Assembly, and commented that the right of the Secretary General to bring matters before both the Assembly and the Security Council might be considered in connection with proposal to increase the powers of the Assembly.

Referring to the Commentary on the Chapter as a whole, Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the first point related to the seat of the Organization which of course had not yet been determined or discussed; and that the next point was procedural and again a question of whether or not the Charter itself should contain this type of regulation or whether it should be left for future determination.

The next point, he said, related to diplomatic immunities and privileges, which again was a question that had been left out of the Dumbarton Oaks document because it was believed it was something to be discussed in connection with the drafting of the Charter, and that [Page 62] since it did not raise a serious question of principle, it had been left for later discussion. Referring to the question raised at a previous meeting as to why the Secretary General should be elected by the Assembly and the Council, he explained that the answer was that the Secretary General would act as such not only to the Assembly but also to the Security Council. Therefore both bodies should participate in his selection, particularly since under paragraph 3 of this Chapter he was given rather extensive powers in connection with the right to bring to the attention of the Council and the Assembly questions relating to peace and security.

Dr. Pasvolsky explained that Chapter X was a skeleton chapter in which a great deal of material would need to be filled in later.

The Chargé d’affaires ad interim of Mexico1 said that there seemed to have been omitted in the commentaries on this chapter that of his government regarding registration and publication of treaties by the Secretariat. Mr. Pasvolsky informed him that he would find that the commentary was included on page 53 of the document and suggested that the matter be discussed when page 53 was reached.

Referring to the two commentaries on Chapter XI,2 Dr. Pasvolsky remarked that the first proposed that amendments be adopted by a ⅔ majority vote; the second, that ratification should be by a ⅔ majority vote; and that he imagined both were related to the same part of the article since the recommendation for an amendment was to be made by a ⅔ vote of the General Assembly. He explained that the mechanism proposed here is that amendments should be adopted by a ⅔ vote of the Assembly and ratified by members of the organization having permanent membership in the Security Council and by a majority of the other members of the Organization; that it would be possible to make the same requirement for ratification as for initial adoption, which in effect was a recommendation; but that it had seemed best that ratification by a majority vote would expedite the process of amendment. He said that in considering the matter it should be kept in mind that there had to be a certain amount of flexibility in the amending of the document; but that at the same time amendment should not be made too easy. It had been thought that a ⅔ vote of the members of the Assembly was a necessary safeguard and also that ratification should be by a somewhat larger than a simple majority vote. Dr. Pasvolsky explained that it was of course open to discussion whether or not the majority should be ⅔, and that the question would have to be decided in terms of whether [Page 63] or not this represented too much rigidity or too much flexibility with respect to amendments—a question which was a matter of judgment.

Passing to Chapter XII, Dr. Pasvolsky remarked with reference to the two provisions for transitional measures that it was open to discussion whether they would become a part of the Statute or be embodied in special protocols and that they had been introduced in this Chapter because of the necessity of completing the essential structure of the plan. He stated that paragraph 1 related to the fact that there would be two interim periods in the process of establishing the system envisaged in this document: between now (or whenever the Conference took place) and the ratification of the document and therefore, the time when the Organization could be set up—a period during which there would be a hiatus from the point of view of some sort of machinery for the maintenance of peace and security. He said that the hiatus was in part filled by the language of paragraph 5 of the Moscow Declaration which provided that pending the establishment of a general system of security, the signatories to the Declaration would consult with one another and, as the occasion arose, with other States as to measures necessary for joint action on behalf of the community of nations for the purpose of maintaining peace and security. He stated that the second interim period would exist between the time the Organization was established and went into effect, and the negotiation and putting into effect of the special agreement or agreements relating to the provision of armed forces and facilities.

With reference to the Mexican commentary to the effect that the four Powers signatory to the Declaration of Moscow mentioned in Article 1 be obligated …2a to adhere to the principles and aims stipulated in the Pact of the General International Organization, Dr. Pasvolsky said that that important point was inherent in the fact that the paragraph (1) would go into effect after the ratification of the Charter of the Organization, and would be taken care of by the fact that presumably the Signatories of the Four-Nation Declaration would by that time have ratified the Charter and therefore would be obligated to adhere to the principles and aims of the Organization.

Touching on point 3 of the Mexican commentary providing that a time limit should be fixed, Dr. Pasvolsky stated that this was a point which needed consideration, as to whether we wanted to provide a period during which the agreements would go into effect. We felt that there was a great deal to be said on both sides of the question.

Dr. Pasvolsky then referred to the last sentence of the Venezuelan commentary on paragraph 1, i.e., “…2a It is evident that if it were possible to include a general agreement as an annex to the [Page 64] Statute, it would be unnecessary to establish the aforementioned duty, for the Pact would begin to function in its entirety without waiting for any new agreements.” He remarked that that of course was correct, the difficulty being in anticipating that the special agreements could be negotiated at the same time as the general Charter is put into effect. He said that if so, so much the better. However, he said, the question of armaments would still be left open. He explained that it had not seemed likely that even the special agreements for the provision of armed forces would be set up at the same time as the general Organization. Moreover, since it had been thought wise to make the special agreements subject to the approval of the Security Council which was to be given very heavy responsibility, it was considered advisable that the Council at least should participate in the discussions relating to the provisions for armed forces.

Referring to the second transitional provision in the Chapter, he remarked that that related to another subject: the question of whether the General Organization envisaged here would from the outset be given authority and power to take the action necessary with respect to measures such as the terms of surrender of the enemy countries. He explained that it was considered that the responsibility for taking these measures should continue to rest with the Powers responsible for setting up the machinery for such action. He said that whether or not the two lines of action should be merged later, i.e. those of the Governments having responsibility for action with those of the General Organization was a matter for later discussion, but that it had been thought that initially they should not.

Dr. Pasvolsky then explained that the Mexican comment on paragraph 2 called for a clarification of what was meant by that rather brief paragraph. He said that obviously the whole question as to whether it should be amplified and clarified was important.

After giving his interpretation of the Venezuelan comment on paragraph 2, Dr. Pasvolsky remarked that the intent of the paragraph was precisely the opposite, i.e. not to make the Organization as such responsible for that particular set of duties. He said that the responsibility for carrying out the measures growing out of the termination of the war rested on the nations responsible for bringing the war to a successful conclusion. He explained that the problem of “the revision of treaties or situations that may prove to be dangerous or unjust” had already been discussed and taken care of in two places: in connection with the right of the Council to deal with situations, and with the right of the Assembly to make recommendations with respect to situations which might impair the general welfare. He said that this commentary raised the very important issue as to whether or not it is desired to give the Organization at this stage the right to [Page 65] impose settlements. Nobody had as yet proposed that the Organization be given any such powers, which come very close to being those of a super State.

Dr. Pasvolsky commented on the suggestions for three additional paragraphs to this Chapter made by Chile. He remarked that the first belonged in the category of amplification and clarification, stating that reference had been made there to both paragraph 1 and 2 of the Chapter, which opened up a question rather difficult to discuss now, it being a very large one.

Referring to the new paragraph 4 proposed by Chile, Dr. Pasvolsky said that the Document was based on the theory that all peace-loving nations were eligible to membership in the Organization, and that their admission to membership would be the responsibility of the Council and of the Assembly. A provision that the Organization should invite all States would need consideration from the point of view of whether or not that would mean the right of each state to be automatically included or that the Charter Members would determine future membership. He explained that the present setup provided the principle of eligibility for, but not of automatic, admission.

Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the question raised in the new paragraph 5 proposed by Chile was one of the problems left open as to the procedure by which the Organization should be set up, clearly a matter for discussion at the Conference. That this was in the same category as the questions referred to in the Note beginning immediately after Chapter XII.

Continuing with the proposals in the Note, Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the topics Publication of Treaties, Seat of the Organization, and Official Languages were in the same category in that they had not been considered at Dumbarton Oaks and certainly would be taken up in the process of formulating the actual Charter.

The question of Dependent Areas, he said, had been left out of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals not because it was considered inappropriate, but because it would need to be discussed as part of the process of completing the document, as it had been thought that the final Charter would need to contain some sort of machinery for dealing with this problem.

He stated that the topic, Dissolution of the League of Nations, raised a question which was initially the primary responsibility of the members of the League. It would be presumptuous for non-members to try to tell the League how to act. He remarked that it was anticipated that the League would either be merged with the Organization or dissolved, or some sort of transition for handling that problem would be made and that the whole question could not arise until there was a new Organization.

[Page 66]

As regards the last point, Convocation of the General Assembly, Dr. Pasvolsky said he imagined it belonged in the same group of questions raised by the question of the establishment of the Organization; that one of the provisions to be agreed upon would have to relate to the question of how the General Assembly would be convoked, and by whom; that the Organization could not begin to function until the General Assembly had its first meetings, and that one of the first acts of the Assembly would be to elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and all members of the Economic and Social Council. He concluded by saying that all of these questions had been left open in the document and would of course be put on the Agenda of the United Nations conference when it convened.

Dr. Pasvolsky said that this concluded his comments on the Proposals unless there were any further specific questions concerning them.

Mr. Rockefeller thanked Dr. Pasvolsky on behalf of the participants of the meeting for his assistance. Mr. Rockefeller then asked if there were further comments, particularly with respect to the last six pages of the document.

Attention was here called to the two points of the commentary of the Venezuelan Government regarding the statute of the court, appearing on page 62 of the document.

Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the first raised the very important question of whether the revision of treaties is a judicial or a political process. He believed that interpretation of treaties is judicial, whereas revision of them is customarily regarded as a political process. He stated again that the whole problem of the mechanism of treaties will need to be explored at the conference, and said that the second point made by Venezuela was clearly something to be discussed at the conference.

Mr. Rockefeller then stated that it had been suggested some weeks ago that it might be advisable to select for further consideration some of the most important points that had been raised at the meetings and he asked the Brazilian Ambassador or Chairman of the Coordinating Committee to comment. Señor Martins said that there had been prepared a memorandum3 of the “principal aspects of the Dumbarton Oaks plan regarding which the other American republics desire change” and he presented the memorandum to the meeting. This question was then discussed at some length but no conclusion was reached. It was decided that the Chiefs of Mission of the eleven American Governments which had submitted memoranda on the Proposals should meet in the Department of State on Tuesday, February 13, to study the matter.4 The meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

  1. Present at this meeting were Assistant Secretary Rockefeller, certain American officials, and Chiefs of the Diplomatic Missions of the American Republics, except Argentina and El Salvador.
  2. Vicente Sanchez Gavito.
  3. Reference apparently is to the Costa Rican proposal (memorandum of December 5, 1944, doc. 21, G/7(h), UNCIO Documents, vol. 3, p. 274) and the Venezuelan proposal (memorandum of October 31, 1944, doc. 2, G/7(d)(1), ibid., pp. 189, 220).
  4. Omission indicated in the original.
  5. Omission indicated in the original.
  6. Not printed.
  7. No record of this meeting found in Department files.