500.CC(PC)/9–2845: Telegram

The United States Representative on the Preparatory Commission (Stettinius) to the Acting Secretary of State

10109. Copre 169. We held our second informal meeting of the Big Five at Ambassador Gromyko’s apartment on Sept. 26 at which time several matters were discussed.

The British stated a preference for the President of the Security Council to be selected for competence and ability with right of reelection rather than rotation. After some discussion all the others except Noel-Baker favored rotation. There was difference of opinion on interval: Noel-Baker urging 6 months, Massigli 3 months and Gromyko and I, 1 month. No agreement was reached. Gromyko agreed to rotation among all eleven members and this was accepted by the others except Noel-Baker with suggestion that first President be selected by lot.
Gromyko urged that the Secretariat be set up to parallel the permanent organs rather than on the functional basis which is being discussed in Committee 6. This will be taken up in the Committee.
It was generally agreed that in the selection of Secretary General competence and ability should be the primary criteria. I urged that Secretary General should not be a national of the country chosen as the site and this was generally agreed. Noel-Baker urged that the first Secretary General be a national of one of the great powers preferably the United States.
We had long and frank discussion of the permanent headquarters. Noel-Baker made an emphatic statement of the advantages of Geneva saying it would be the preference of his Govt. He suggested postponing the final decision and reaching an agreement on Geneva as temporary headquarters for this coming winter and the spring meeting. He referred to its excellent facilities, pointed out that Swiss politics would not influence United Nations Organization, that [Page 1453] although they would probably not come into United Nations Organization soon they were anxious to reestablish cordial relations with the Soviets and would probably be prepared to make good arrangements regarding immunities.

Ambassador Koo said Geneva invoked many unhappy memories of the League which had disappointed the hopes of the Chinese people and the world. He felt that prevailing consideration must be that we are setting up a new world order and that it should start in the new world. San Francisco would be entirely acceptable, he said.

Massigli strongly favored Europe as it will be the source of economic and social trouble for a long time. He objected to the site being in the territory of a great power. He mentioned the difficulty of dollar exchange shortage if the United States were chosen. He suggested a site in Europe on the line between east and west perhaps Copenhagen or Vienna.

Gromyko stated that he was “definitely negative towards Geneva” (he told me privately afterwards that this remark applied to Europe as well). He said the Soviets prefer the United States which is located between Europe and Asia.

I stated again that we were not seeking the headquarters but were ready to extend an invitation if the majority of the United Nations so desire. I suggested that we should reach a decision soon as to where the Councils should go to work in January and at my request it was agreed to hold a special executive session of ExCom on Saturday morning to discuss this entire matter.27

  1. For statement regarding this meeting, released to the press by the Preparatory Commission on September 29, see Department of State Bulletin, October 14, 1945, p. 562.