500.CC(PC)/11–1045: Telegram

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

11858. This is Copre 359. The following is text of memorandum forwarded to you by special Navy courier on November 3 (reference Copre 340 and Preco 26238).

[Page 1463]

“November 1, 1945.


To: The Secretary of State

From: Adlai E. Stevenson, Acting US Delegate to Preparatory Commission of United Nations

Subject: Synopsis of principal issues developed during Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission.

General Assembly.

General Committee.

Gromyko took the position in the Executive Committee that the question of the composition of the General Committee of the Assembly should be left open at this time for further study and decision postponed until the meeting of the General Assembly. Since the question of the number of Vice Presidents was connected with the problem of the composition of the General Committee he opposed the recommendation for seven Vice Presidents. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia joined on these two positions.

The reservation on this question as worded by the Soviet Delegation reads ‘the Soviet Delegation agreed to the principle of the establishment of a General Committee of the General Assembly but proposed that a decision on the question of the composition of the committee be postponed believing that further study of the issues involved is necessary.’

The Soviet Delegation made it perfectly clear that they agreed with the proposal to establish a General Committee with functions similar to those recommended by the Executive Committee. In discussion of the composition of such a committee Gromyko indicated that he would be willing to say that the General Committee should be established ‘on the basis of the representativeness of the states members of UNO’. In private conversations I expressed my confidence to Gromyko that if there were seven Vice Presidents of the General Assembly and the President was always from a smaller country the ‘Big Five’ would all be elected as Vice Presidents as long as they deserved to be and that therefore the Soviet as well as the rest of us were reasonably assured of membership in the General Committee. I had a feeling that he personally agreed but evidently his instructions gave him no latitude.

From his occasional references to the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Conference it appears that he is thinking not of a Bureau of the Assembly in the usual sense of the term but of an Executive Committee composed of the Five Powers and perhaps nine additional members. This position was not argued by the Soviet representative in Committee One where the idea of a Bureau was supported [Page 1464] by the Soviet, Czechoslovak and Yugoslav representatives. Apparently instructions were received at the last minute to postpone committing the Soviet Government to a General Committee that would not insure the inclusion of the Soviet Union.

It is apparent also that the emphasis placed by several delegations particularly the British on the factor of personal competence as the primary consideration in selecting the chairmen of the main committees aroused Soviet concern. Remarks of Gromyko in the Executive Committee suggested apprehension that the criterion of personal competence might be used to prevent the choice of representatives from certain states in particular the Soviet Union itself and other states in eastern Europe for such chairmenships. The Soviet representative pointed out for example that the criterion of personal competence was far less objective than that of geographical distribution and that lack of experience in international negotiations might be used as evidence of personal incompetence when this conclusion was not justified. The Soviet representative even in Committee One urged that the principle of equitable geographic representation should be the primary consideration in the choice of members of the General Committee. Presumably in this way the Soviet representative hoped to assure representation on the General Committee not only of itself but also of other eastern European states.

As finally adopted, however, the factor of personal competence was emphasized in the selection of the Chairmen of the Main Committees who would constitute over half the membership of the General Committee if the committee is composed as recommended, i.e., of the President, the seven Vice Presidents and the Chairmen of the Committees.

Throughout the discussions on the General Committee the Soviet representative expressed his concern that the General Committee should be as ‘authoritative and efficient as possible’ and my impression is that they intend this committee to keep firm hands on the direction of the General Assembly and always to include the Soviet Union and as many of the satellites as possible.

The vote to sustain the recommendations of Committee One on the General Committee was carried by a vote of 9 to 3 with China and France abstaining. China and France abstained not because they disagreed with the recommendation on the composition of the General Committee, but to avoid, I presume, a solid front of the Four Powers against the Soviet on an issue to which the latter attached such importance.

Nominations Committee.

Originally in Committee One the Soviet representative urged a Nominations Committee with responsibility for nominating not only [Page 1465] the Vice Presidents and the Chairmen of the Main Committees of the Assembly but also the states for membership on the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council. Committee One, however, decided to leave the nomination of states to membership on the Councils to the General Assembly itself and to use the Nominations Committee only for the nomination of members on the General Committee—the Vice Presidents and the Chairmen of the Main Committees of the General Assembly.

With the change in the position of the Soviet Union on the General Committee they also opposed the Nominations Committee as recommended by Committee One. In the Executive Committee Ambassador Gromyko said that it would be better to leave General Assembly free to nominate ‘without interference’ the Vice Presidents and Chairmen of the Main Committees.

The vote on the Nominations Committee was carried by a majority of 8 to 6, the 6 in opposition including Australia, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, USSR and Yugoslavia, Iran abstaining.

The Soviet hope evidently is to establish the General Committee on the basis of ‘equitable geographic representation’ including the Five Powers and presumably nine additional states along the lines of the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Conference. The Vice Presidents and the Chairmen of the Main Committees according to the Soviet conception would not serve on the General Committee but would act in an advisory capacity.

As proposed by Committee One the factor of personal competence was emphasized as a criterion to guide the Nominations Committee in nominating the Chairmen of the Main Committees of the Assembly. The Soviet objection to this criterion as indicated in the comments under the General Committee above, no doubt also influenced the Soviet objection to the Nominations Committee in the form proposed by Committee One.

In short when the Nominations Committee no longer had power to nominate members of the Councils the Soviet began to lose interest in it and when their approval of the proposed composition of the General Committee was reversed they energetically opposed any Nominations Committee. The reason for this may be that they are fearful that a Nominating Committee designated by the President of the General Assembly himself from a smaller country and approved by a General Assembly controlled by the smaller states might be more difficult to influence than the General Assembly itself in which the USSR and US would have a large voting influence particularly if the proposed composition of the General Committee (President, seven Vice Presidents and Committee Chairmen) remains unchanged over their opposition. Should the General Committee be revised along [Page 1466] the lines of the present Executive Committee it might be that they would no longer oppose a Nominations Committee.

But I feel confident that their attitude on a Nominating Committee will be conditioned by three factors: How their influence can be most effectively exerted to (a) further the principle of ‘geographical representativeness’, (b) to influence the selection of committee chairmen to which they attach the greatest importance, and (c) to insure adequate representation of the Soviet Union and its satellites on whatever General Committee is finally agreed upon.

The Australian Delegate arrived at the same conclusion by contrary reasoning and supported the elimination of the Nominations Committee, he told me, for the reason, among others, that he felt such a committee would be too susceptible to influence from the large powers.

Security Council.

While the report on the Security Council was accepted unanimously two issues arose during its discussion in the Executive Committee worthy of mention:

As the report came before the Executive Committee it recommended that with a view to assisting the Security Council in completing its initial organization with the least possible loss of time the Preparatory Commission should draw to the attention of the Security Council certain questions of organization and procedure. Seven such questions were listed in an annex, all of them of an organizational character.
The draft report also recommended that the ‘Preparatory Commission invite the Security Council formally to mark its assumption of powers and duties under the Charter by an early discussion of the means best calculated to discharge its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security’.

Gromyko objected to both these recommendations on the ground’ that the Security Council should be left free to decide without pressure from the Preparatory Commission, its organization, its own procedures and the methods for discharging its responsibilities. In opposition to the first recommendation his main argument was that the interim arrangements authorized the Preparatory Commission to make recommendations only with respect to items for the first meeting of the Security Council and that therefore the preparation of a list of general questions was not within the competence of the Preparatory Commission. I took the position that a recommendation bringing these questions to the attention of the Security Council was not outside the competence of the Preparatory Commission but that we did not feel that it was necessary to bring them to the attention of the Security Council with the force of a recommendation. In [Page 1467] view of the divided opinion and strong feeling of some of the smaller states that the Security Council was not ‘sacrosanct’ a vote finally became necessary on the omission of this recommendation. Brazil, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Soviet Union, USA, Yugoslavia were in favor of omission; opposed to omission were Canada, Australia, Iran, The Netherlands, UK and France abstained.

With respect to the second recommendation, Gromyko argued that it was wrong to treat the Security Council as a child that needed to be instructed on its first movements and that the substance of this recommendation was covered in the terms of the Charter and need not be repeated in this form. The only solution that proved generally acceptable was to omit the recommendation to which Gromyko objected, and rephrase the preamble to meet the desire of the smaller states to express the hope that the Security Council would promptly begin its work.

It was clear throughout the discussion that Gromyko was suspicious of any effort by the smaller states through the Preparatory Commission to affect the organization and procedures of the Security Council beyond its first meeting.

While they accepted their defeat in good spirit the Australian representative made it clear that he would press in the Preparatory Commission for more detailed recommendations for the guidance of the Security Council. His position like that of the Canadian representative was consistently that the Security Council under the interim arrangements should be treated like any other organ for which the Preparatory Commission should make recommendations. The Australian Hasluck argued in the Executive Committee that in view of the very general nature of the provisions of the Charter and of the agreement on interim arrangements it would be more helpful to the Security Council if a complete set of rules of procedure and other detailed guidance were prepared for the benefit of the Security Council.

I believe this conflict of opinion regarding the responsibility of the Preparatory Commission for the Security Council will be revived again in the discussions of the Preparatory Commission and that Australia with the added strength of a number of smaller states may be able to gather support for restoring in the report recommendations comparable to those omitted in the Executive Committee as a result of the Soviet opposition.

Economic and Social Council.

Specialized Agencies.

The most significant reservation on the Economic and Social part of the Executive Committee’s report relates to the Soviet attitude on the problem of relations with specialized agencies. The Soviet representative [Page 1468] objected to the entire report of the Sub-Committee though ultimately it voted for the transmission of the report without approval or disapproval of its contents. The Soviet followed through by securing the deletion of a recommendation that a Negotiating Committee be set up by the Economic and Social Council to negotiate agreements with specialized agencies. It likewise obtained the elimination of a recommendation for a Coordination Commission as one of the standing commissions of the Council. The Soviet also secured a redraft of a section of the report of the Sub-Committee relating to common fiscal services for the United Nations and the specialized agencies. The redraft merely suggests that it would be desirable to study the subject of common fiscal services.

In conjunction with the foregoing, it should be borne in mind that the Soviet has decided, for the time being, not to join the FAO, and that it is apparently not going to participate in the Educational and Cultural Conference.

The reasons for these delaying tactics on the question of relations with the specialized agencies are not clear. It is usually suggested that the Russian attitude on the ILO is sufficient to explain its negative attitude towards the various recommendations for pushing ahead rapidly with a program of bringing the specialized agencies into relationship. Some of their specific objections to the various recommendations made by the technical committees could be interpreted in this light but it is entirely possible that the Soviet has broader considerations in mind. Precisely what these are is not clear from the history of the Executive Committee and we are reduced for the present to conjecture.

One possible explanation is that the Russians are reconsidering their entire attitude on the question of methods and forms of international economic and social cooperation as defined in Article V of the Charter. It has been suggested that they might have become alarmed at the rate at which specialized agencies are being projected, particularly when this is taken in conjunction with the prevailing purpose to bring all such agencies with wide international responsibilities promptly into more or less close relationship with the United Nations Organization through the Economic and Social Council. They may feel that under present conditions these agencies or projected agencies owe too much to Anglo-American or Western European inspiration and that the ‘spontaneous’ growth of such agencies does not give the Soviet satisfactory control or influence in their initial development. If this were the basis of their present dilatory attitude on questions of relationships of such agencies the Soviet might be expected to come forth with proposals that prospective international [Page 1469] cooperation in certain economic and social fields be delayed until the Economic and Social Council is in a position to initiate and guide the development. In this way the Soviet might be able to exert greater control over the process and apply the brakes more effectively. This possible conclusion does not square altogether, however, with Krylov’s39 criticism in the Sub-Committee of Noel-Baker’s idea on the future organization of international economic and social cooperation. Noel-Baker contended that we ought not (repeat not) to set up any more specialized agencies, but ought instead to develop international cooperation in economic and social fields by developing appropriate integrated machinery directly under the Economic and Social Council. In response to this Krylov was quite emphatic that the Charter prescribed specialized agencies as the normal method of organizing international economic and social cooperation in special fields.

Another and perhaps better explanation (not necessarily inconsistent with the first) may be found in the basic Russian attitude towards the United Nations Organization as primarily a security organization. They may feel that the mushrooming of specialized agencies joined to a quasi-compulsory procedure of bringing such agencies subsequently into close relationship with the United Nations Organization through the Economic and Social Council, may tend to make the Economic and Social Council the real center of the United Nations Organization activities rather than the Security Council. Their distaste for such a development would be increased by the feeling—referred to in the preceding paragraph—that the Soviet had too little control over the process whereby the United States or other ‘western’ powers took the initiative in developing future international economic and social cooperation by way of specialized agencies and of subsequently bringing such agencies into relationship with the United Nations, the character of the United Nations might rapidly be changed in a direction opposed to the original Russian intention. This might particularly be objectionable to them, if, in future, such new agencies were to be brought into a ‘consolidated’ financial relationship with the United Nations. The Russians may for the time being be unwilling to commit themselves to such a process of ‘infiltration’ of economic and social questions in the United Nations.

Powers of the President.

The French Delegate made formal reservation on the question of the powers of the President of the Economic and Social Council. Specifically it was contended that the powers of the President authorizing him to convene meetings of the Council at a date of his own choosing [Page 1470] were too considerable. I had no personal conversation with Massigli about this and attach no political importance to it.

Opium Advisory Commission.

The Chinese Delegation wants the Economic and Social Council to set up at its first session a standing commission to continue the functions of the League’s Opium Advisory Commission and will doubtless renew this proposal in the Preparatory Commission and General Assembly formally if not emplastically.

Trusteeship Arrangements.

The Temporary Trusteeship Committee.

The Soviet Delegation supported by the Czechoslovak and the Yugoslav Delegations, objected to the establishment of a temporary Trusteeship Committee in the Executive Committee.

The principal reason publicly expressed by Ambassador Gromyko was that the establishment of such a temporary organ is not authorized by the Charter and would therefore be unconstitutional. This view was maintained in spite of the unanimous opinion of the other Delegations that Article XXII of the Charter authorizes the Assembly to establish ‘such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions’.

Another reason privately stated but not publicly advanced was the Soviet view that the Trusteeship Council could have been immediately established by starting with the five great powers whose membership is provided for under Article LXXXVI. Other Delegations had also thought about this possibility but it was abandoned in the early stage of the Sub-Committee’s discussions as being not in the spirit of the Charter nor did it fulfill the balanced conception of the Trusteeship Council.

Another Soviet objection was that the establishment of such a committee might actually delay the establishment of the Trusteeship Council since it would create a mechanism which might be regarded as sufficient for practical working purposes. The US Delegation and others as well argued on the contrary that there was even reason to urge the earliest possible establishment of the Trusteeship Council and that the temporary committee would in fact hasten rather than delay its establishment.

Another objection and perhaps the most important which I elicited from Ambassador Gromyko in private conversation was his apprehension that naming present mandatory states to the temporary committee might tend to freeze their position as future trustees of the same territories and make more difficult later reallocation of territories under trust agreements. This consideration together with Gromyko’s view that the temporary committee would be used to retard [Page 1471] the agreements and the establishment of the Trusteeship Council are, I am confident, the major basis of the Soviet opposition.

(In this connection I understand that at San Francisco the United States Delegation in discussions with the British and French rather gave the impression that it was not their intention to replace the mandatory powers unless the new terms of the trust agreements were such that these powers would not be willing to continue to act in the capacity of trust power.)

The Soviet Delegation may also have had objection to the special mention of The Netherlands in the plan for the Trusteeship Committee. Although this mention was a mere bracketed reference to The Netherlands experience as a colonial power thus qualifying her for membership it may be that the Soviet did not favor this mention although there was no intimation to this effect.


Though the Australian representative on the Sub-Committee helped formulate and supported adoption of the resolution authorizing the Executive Secretary to issue invitations to nominate by December 15 the Delegation subsequently reversed its stand.

In the Sub-Committee Evatt contended (a) that the Executive Committee was not competent under the interim arrangements to authorize issuance of invitations to nominate judges; (b) that assuming the Executive Committee was competent, it nevertheless was precipitate and also undertook to do something which as a matter of policy should have been left to the Preparatory Commission; and (c) that the procedure of issuance of invitations used by the Executive Secretary did not accord with requirements of the statute, Article V. Subsequently in the Sub-Committee the Australian representative, Reyouf [ Bailey ?], ostensibly restating the Australian position, omitted repetition of Evatt’s argument on point (a) but amplified Evatt’s remarks on points (b) and (c).

In the opinion of the Sub-Committee and its Chairman, McKinnon Wood40 (UK) and of the Foreign Office experts, all of Evatt’s arguments as summarized above are insubstantial.

These technical arguments are, however, probably only a façade. What is really wanted by Australia certainly and the UK apparently is a postponement of the elections of the judges until the second part of the General Assembly. Evatt made that clear in the Sub-Committee and in the Executive Committee on October 6. Evatt argued not technicalities but the desirability of having additional time for [Page 1472] the consideration of nominations which would afford much better results and the desirability of giving states like South Africa time to ratify the Charter. McKinnon Wood revealed to Reiff41 the importance the Foreign Office attaches to the arguments on the merits and the wisdom of postponing the election of the judges to the second part of the General Assembly.

Although these arguments on the merits are entitled to serious consideration there may be other considerations not yet disclosed which may be forthcoming at an interview with me which McKinnon Wood has requested.


The Soviet delegation supported by the Czechoslovak and Yugoslav delegations, opposed both in Sub-Committee and Executive Committee what has been not wholly correctly called the ‘functional basis’ of organization.

The Soviet contention is that each organ should have its own Secretariat and staff. They contend that this is called for under Article CI paragraph 2 which states that ‘appropriate staffs shall be permanently assigned to the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, and as required, to other organs of the United Nations. These staffs shall form a part of the Secretariat.

This question was discussed at great length at San Francisco and a compromise solution was arrived at which is reflected in part by the last sentence quoted above and in part in the Rapporteurs’ report at San Francisco which states in effect that while the Secretary General must supply an appropriate staff for each organ of the United Nations he shall be free to move such staff about within the Secretariat as a whole as he may deem necessary for the performance of the work of the Secretariat.

Those who supported the so-called ‘functional’ type of organization contended that except perhaps in the highly specialized work relating to the Military Staff Committee and to some of the work of the Security Council, there would be unnecessary duplication if separate staffs were maintained on a non-interchangeable basis to serve the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and the various commissions falling under that Council. Similarly there would be an unnatural and unnecessary duplication if one technical staff of the Secretariat could not serve the General Assembly when it deals with questions affecting the maintenance of peace and security as well as the Security Council when it is concerned with the same questions [Page 1473] even though the Security Council has the exclusive responsibility for action in this field.

Moreover the Secretariat cannot actually be organized wholly on a ‘functional’ or an ‘organizational’ basis and these terms have been given meanings which are not wholly descriptive of the way in which the Secretariat will actually function in any case.

But these arguments were not convincing to the Soviets. From private conversations with Gromyko on this subject I get the impression that he is wholly concerned with the Secretariat staff of the Security Council and I detected an underlying apprehension that interchangeability might impair not alone the efficiency and security of the work of the Secretarial staff assigned to the Security Council but also the preeminent position of the Security Council. He talked about the international character of the Secretariat and said it was human nature that individual members of the Secretariat would be more interested in what interested their countries; that most countries would be more interested in the economic and social aspects than the political and security aspects of the organization’s work. He also suggested facetiously that under a fluid scheme of organization, Haitians, Liberians, etc., might be working for the Security Council.

Since it seems likely that the Secretarial staffs connected with the Security Council, the Military Staff Committee and the Trusteeship Council, will be very largely attached to those organs, a formula could perhaps be found which could give the Soviets satisfaction on these points. On the other hand in the whole field of economic and social activity of the organization it would appear to be very doubtful whether the expert staffs serving in these fields could be exclusively attached to any one organ.

Liquidation of League.

With respect to the liquidation of the League of Nations, the Soviet view appears to be that there should be no implication that the United Nations organization is ‘succeeding’ to the League of Nations. They rely upon a narrow interpretation of Article IV (C) of the interim arrangements, insisting that in the course of development of the work of several organs of the United Nations Organization, those organs should decide, item by item, which of the functions, activities and assets of the League should be taken over. Meanwhile, from their point of view, the League can stay in being until the picking and choosing has been completed or can liquidate itself, arranging for the preservation of its assets in such way as it chooses. While agreeing that speed in the liquidation of the League is essential, the Soviet view is opposed to performance of the task of liquidation by the [Page 1474] United Nations, which they argue is the effect of adopting the en bloc method of transfer. They prefer the League to liquidate itself.

In the Executive Committee on October 12 while discussing the proposed transfer of technical functions Gromyko repeated the argument made by Yunin in the Sub-Committee, that ‘there was no exact dividing line between economic and political activities’. While in theory this may be true, under the scheme outlined in the report of Sub-Committee, the United Nations organs would have complete liberty to alter, adapt, or discontinue any function or activity transferred if anything connected therewith were inconsistent with the plans or policies of the organ involved.

Something else may underlie the Soviet objection on these theoretical grounds. Yunin may have furnished a club [clue?] in the Sub-Committee when he argued that a technical economic function could be used for sanctions purposes. This objection may relate to resentment toward the League for its expulsion of the USSR.

In advocating that the United Nations ‘consider the question of continuation of some functions similar to those of the League of Nations’, Gromyko’s remarks in the Executive Committee at least implied that there be no transfer of functions at all, and that such technical functions as the League has could die with the League. Similar functions could be duplicated in the United Nations Organization.

It may be on further analysis of the problem that what the USSR advocates here is what really will be the process, when spelled out in detail. The only ‘transfer’ actually taking place would be that of the archives, records, ‘know how’, etc., associated with the functions as exercised by the League.

Finally in the background of the League problem lies the ILO. The Soviet representatives in Sub-Committee made no reference to the ILO when discussing the League liquidation, nor did Gromyko in the Executive Committee when discussing the report of the Sub-Committee. As long as constitutional or budgetary ties exist between the ILO and the League it may be that hostility to the ILO may influence Soviet views on the liquidation of the League.


One further thing may be worth comment. In private talks with Gromyko he has on several occasions said to me that in their view the Soviet representatives on Sub-Committees are single [simply?] ‘technical people’ without political authority or responsibility and it is only he who can make the final decisions for his government on policy. He confirmed my conclusion that he would not and could not be bound by any position taken by a technical expert in a Sub-Committee.”

  1. Neither printed.
  2. S. B. Krylov, Soviet legal expert.
  3. H. McKinnon Wood, sometime chairman of Committee 5.
  4. Henry Reiff, a technical adviser on the United States delegation.