Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Leo Pasvolsky, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State

Subject: Second Conversation with the Soviet Ambassador20 on the Dumbarton Oaks Documents

At the Ambassador’s request, we met again today to continue the conversation which took place on January 11.21 Our meeting lasted over two and one-half hours, and the conversation ranged over a large variety of subjects related to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals.

The Ambassador opened the conversation by saying that he had given a great deal of thought to the points brought out in our previous discussion and had re-read the President’s proposal. He was puzzled by the reference to Chapter VIII, Section C, paragraph 1, and proceeded to read that paragraph from the Russian text of the Dumbarton Oaks documents which he had in his hands. I told him that what we had in mind was the question of whether or not the Council should encourage a regional group or agency to undertake peaceful settlement of a local or regional dispute. He thought that was logical in terms of our general formula.

He said that he was anxious to have another talk because, in view of his imminent departure for Moscow, it had occurred to him that this would be a good opportunity to clarify his mind on a number of points.

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There ensued another long discussion of the voting formula, which did not, however, bring out any new points. His evident purpose was to fix clearly in his mind our arguments in favor of the formula.

He then asked me if I would be willing to go over with him the other open items,22 and proceeded to enumerate them as they occurred to him:

The International Court of Justice23
Dependent areas and international trusteeships24
Liquidation of the League of Nations25
Initial membership29

With regard to the Court, he said that he considered the matter settled in substance and that agreement on details should not be difficult to reach. The whole subject is being studied in Moscow on the basis of our documents which were discussed at Dumbarton Oaks.27

The discussion of the dependent areas matter was rather lengthy. He said that he had been very much interested in the few informal conversations we had on this subject at Dumbarton Oaks, but had never had the opportunity to make a more systematic examination of the subject. He mentioned the memorandum which Secretary Hull had presented at the Moscow Conference28 and (as Sobolev had told me in September29) said that the Soviet Government was very favorably impressed by it. He repeated the statement made by Sobolev that, while the Soviet Government has neither colonies nor experience in colonial administration, it is greatly interested in the subject. He asked me if I would care to outline for him the principal problems in this field as we see them.

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I summarized for him the various alternative approaches to such problems the distinction between trust and colonial areas;30 the possible declaration of general principles applicable to both; the Machinery of international trusteeship for detached areas; the possibilities and structure of regional commissions for colonial areas;.the question of international accountability; and the relation between the international organization and the possible regional commissions. I said that our basic thought runs generally in terms of the ideas expressed in Secretary Hull’s memorandum; and that we consider our treatment of the Philippines as a desirable type of attitude toward dependent areas.

In reply to his question as to whether all of these problems would have to be discussed at the United Nations Conference, I said that only questions relating to international trusteeship properly belong on the agenda of the conference. Colonial problem as such might be touched upon, but probably ought to be taken up in earnest at some special conference or by some other means.

He inquired whether such a discussion of colonial problems would involve only the colonial powers or also the other important powers. Might it not even be appropriate, he asked, that such a discussion be arranged by the future international organization, since the problems raised might well come within the scope of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council? I said that any one of these procedures was possible.

He then said that he was certain that some trusteeship arrangements for detached areas must be provided for in the Charter, and that the matter really ought to be of direct concern to his Government. After all, he pointed but, as a country at war with Italy, the Soviet Union will have to assume responsibilities with regard to Italian colonies, and it may well have to assume responsibilities with regard to territories detached from Japan.

His next question related to the position of Great Britain and of other countries on this subject. I said that we have a tentative arrangement with the British to exchange documents relating to this question, and it is our intention to make our documents available to the Russians. I said I was sure that the British intended to proceed similarly. I recalled the fact that there are very interesting passages on this subject in the Chinese memorandum.31 He said that they had found the ideas of the. Chinese very interesting and would be very glad to study whatever documents we might give them.

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We readily agreed that initiative on the question of the liquidation of the League of Nations should be taken by the members of the League.

On the subject of initial membership, he repeated that the Soviet Government still wishes the Soviet Republics to be included32 while it wishes the associated nations, as well as the neutrals, to be excluded. I made no attempt to argue the point, saying merely that we have had no new thoughts on either the Soviet Republics or the associated nations.

He then raised the question of the seat of the organization. We talked briefly about the Pays de Gex idea,33 which he had heard about and found quite interesting, except that a part of the territory would be Swiss. He characterized Switzerland rather contemptuously as a neutral, and not a good neutral at that, and hence ineligible. I asked him what ideas he had, and he said he had none. The subject Was not pursued further, except that we explored jokingly the possibility of placing the organization in the Caucasus.

After that he turned to the summary of views expressed by certain Latin American governments34 which I had given him. He said that he had studied it carefully and thought that there should be little difficulty in accepting some of the suggestions. For example, the ideas of political independence, of territorial integrity (with proper provision for possible adjustments), of peaceful change, of revision of treaties, and of promotion of international law could all be worked into the document. He agreed that many of them could be embodied in the preamble.

He said, however, that he was somewhat perturbed by the various suggestions for strengthening the Assembly and the Court at the [Page 18] expense of the Council, since such changes would completely alter the character of our proposals. I agreed. I also agreed that it would be impracticable to make the decisions of the Court enforceable by the Council because the Council would, for one thing, deal only with peace and security, whereas the Court might render decisions on a large variety of subjects. In answer to his inquiry, I explained to him the meaning of compulsory jurisdiction,35 which he had misunderstood completely.

When he came to the statement that the Latin American countries are against voting by the permanent members on disputes in which they are involved, he again plunged into the subject of how “unrealistic” the smaller countries are in making that demand. I said that we must expect all of the countries at the Conference to urge many ideas of the kind that have emerged in our discussions with the Latin American countries, but that it seems to us that the advocacy of most of them would be greatly weakened by the acceptance of our voting formula. He said he would like to think about that possibility, and then asked if it would be possible for me to give him our analysis of the functions of the Council from the point of view of the voting procedure proposed in the President’s formula.36 I said that I would be glad to put down on paper the points in this respect which I brought out in the discussion.

In conclusion, he again said that our two conversations had been both interesting and useful to him and would certainly be helpful in making his report to his Government. I responded in kind, and we parted on a very friendly note.

Leo Pasvolsky
  1. Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko.
  2. For memorandum of conversation of January 11, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 68. For draft memorandum from the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt, January 20, 1945, summarizing the two conversations between Ambassador Gromyko and Mr. Pasvolsky, with marginal notation indicating that it was not submitted to the President but was taken on the trip to Yalta, see ibid., p. 77.
  3. For a series of memoranda on open questions prepared for a conference with the President on November 15, 1944, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, pp. 4857. For a memorandum of January 23, 1945, prepared for the Secretary of State concerning recommended action on points to be decided at the Three-Power meeting, see ibid., p. 81.
  4. See policy paper VI in the Yalta Briefing Book, post, p. 37.
  5. See policy paper V in the Yalta Briefing Book, Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 92.
  6. See policy paper VII in, the Yalta Briefing Book, post, p. 38.
  7. Arkady Sobolev, Minister-Counselor of the Soviet Embassy in the United Kingdom and one of the Soviet representatives who took part in the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations. See memorandum by Mr. Pasvolsky, September 28, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 846.
  8. See footnotes to policy paper VI, p. 37.
  9. Conference Document No. 44 entitled “U.S. Draft of a Declaration by the United Nations on National Independence”, dated March 9, 1943, discussed at the eleventh session of the Tripartite Conference at Moscow, October 29, 1943, 4 p.m.; for summary of proceedings of the eleventh session, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 662. See also The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, vol. ii, pp. 1304–1305.
  10. Arkady Sobolev, Minister-Counselor of the Soviet Embassy in the United Kingdom and one of the Soviet representatives who took part in the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations. See memorandum by Mr. Pasvolsky, September 28, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 846.
  11. See memorandum of January 13, infra.
  12. For text, 61 tentative Chinese proposals for a General International Organization, August 23, 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 718.
  13. For the Soviet proposal for inclusion of all 16 Soviet Republics among the initial members of the Organization, see last paragraph of minutes of meeting No. 6 of the Joint Steering Committee at Dumbarton Oaks, August 28, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 738.

    In the Constitution of the Soviet Union of December 5, 1936, article 18a (which was enacted in February 1944) reads as follows: “Each Union Republic has the right to enter into direct relations with foreign states and to conclude agreements and exchange diplomatic and consular representatives with them.” See also telegram 347, February 2, 1944, from Moscow, concerning the autonomy of the constituent Soviet Republics in foreign affairs, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 810.

  14. It had been proposed that the Organization be located in an internationalized district to be composed of a part or all of the Free Zone of the Pays de Gex and of that section of the Canton of Geneva in which the buildings of the League of Nations were situated.

    For discussions of Under Secretary Stettinius with President Roosevelt on the question of location of the Organization on August 28 and September 6, 1944, see extracts from the Stettinius Diary of those dates, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 743 and 772, respectively. See also memorandum for the President, November 15, 1944, Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 53.

  15. Memorandum of January 5, 1945, entitled “Summary of principal comments and suggestions so far made by the Latin American Governments with respect to the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals”, not printed.
  16. See article 36 of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, printed in Conference Series No. 84: The International Court of Justice: Selected Documents Relating to the Drafting of the Statute (Department of State publication No. 2491), p. 8.
  17. See policy paper I in the Yalta Briefing Book, entitled “The Problem of Voting in the Security Council”, Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 85.