RSC Files: Lot 122, Box 13148

Secretary’s Staff Committee Working Paper (SC–171/8)42

Tentative United States Slates for Secretary-General and Members and Officers of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Committee, the Preparatory Commission, and the General Assembly

There follows a tabulation of the countries which the United States will propose as candidates for the several elective posts in the Preparatory Commission arid in the principal organs of the United Nations.

The negotiations with respect to nominations will be completed for all practical purposes during the meeting of the Preparatory Commission.

The tabulation below has been the basis of our negotiations to date. It has been prepared upon the basis of continuing consultation among the several geographic and economic offices, the Office of Public Information, and the Office of Special Political Affairs.

The general guiding principles of the selection have been (1) the capacity of the state to fulfill the duties of the position, (2) wide distribution of responsibilities among the member states, and (3) adequate representation of geographical and political groupings.

The tabulation is acompanied by memoranda stating the basis of selection in each case.

i. the security council

Basis of Selection

Article 23 of the Charter required the General Assembly to elect six non-permanent members of the Security Council, “due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution.”

It is considered desirable, subject to the condition that the country elected is capable of making an important contribution to the maintenance of international peace, to adopt the general practice of including among the non-permanent members of the Security Council one member of the British Commonwealth, one country from Eastern and Central Europe, one country from Western, Northern, and Southern Europe, two countries from the other American republics, [Page 1476] and one country from the Near East and Africa. The question of Far Eastern representation is not of current importance because the only eligible Far Eastern member of the United Nations is the Philippine Commonwealth.

Security Council Slate

Non-permanent members:

First Election Second Election Third Election
Brazil (2 yrs) Peru
Canada (2 yrs) Australia
Netherlands (2 yrs) Belgium
Poland (1 yr) Czechoslovakia
Egypt (1 yr) Turkey
Mexico (1 yr) Colombia

ii. economic and social council

Basis of Selection

The Charter provides for an Economic and Social Council of “eighteen Members of the United Nations elected by the General Assembly”. In addition to equitable distribution in the light of other important positions in UNO, the basis of the proposed slate is that the Economic and Social Council should always include:

The five major powers.
Canada or India, alternating.
Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, in rotation.
Belgium or the Netherlands, alternating.
Brazil, Mexico, or eventually, Argentina, in rotation.
Three additional eastern European countries.
Three additional Latin countries (early consideration being given to Chile).
One of the five Arab states.
Two other countries (early consideration being given to the Philippines).

Some rearrangement of the above distribution may be necessary as new states are admitted to UNO.

It is recommended that the five major powers be assigned three, two and one-year terms at the initial election on a purely alphabetical basis, three-year terms being given to China and France, two-year terms to U.S.S.R. and United Kingdom, and a one-year term to the United States. The election of all five major powers for the initial three-year term would also be acceptable, but it is anticipated that this would probably be objected to on the ground that their re-election every three years would leave only one vacancy for a new member and would thus make a satisfactory system of rotation more difficult to achieve.

It is recommended that commitments for support of specific nations be not made more than a few months before future elections for the following [Page 1477] reasons: (1) changes in the type of government of a particular country to which a commitment has been made may cause embarrassment; (2) it is impossible to foresee accurately what countries will be elected both to this Council and other important UNO positions, and if the first elections do not go as expected, our slate for subsequent elections will have to be revised in order to achieve appropriate distribution and rotation; (3) the admission of new members may require reduction of the number of seats allocated to a particular geographic area, such as reduction of Latin American representation from 4 to 3; (4) although a promise of future support makes it easy to decline support for the first election, the situation will become more difficult when all available positions have already been promised. It would be appropriate, however, to point out that the United States is in favor of rotation on the general basis of the principles described above.

Economic and Social Council Slate

Three-Year Term Two-Year Term One-Year Term
China United Kingdom United States
France U.S.S.R. Uruguay
Cuba Mexico Peru
Denmark Ukraine Australia
Iraq Canada or India Czechoslovakia
Greece Belgium Turkey

[Here follows discussion of the Temporary Trusteeship Committee slate; this Committee was never established.]

iv. the secretary-general

Basis of Selection

It is felt that it would be difficult if not impossible to reach agreement among the major powers to have a national of one of them in the position of Secretary-General. Accordingly, it appears that he should be a national of a middle or small state.

In a peculiar way the selection of the Secretary-General should be made with primary consideration being given to the person rather than to a country since so much depends upon the ability of the Secretary-General. He should be a man of recognized prestige and competence in the field of foreign affairs, should be between 45 and 55 years of age, and should have a fluent command of both the English and the French languages.

Furthermore it is likely that there would be considerable objection to the selection of a candidate from the country where the permanent site of the UNO is to be located or even from neighboring countries.

Although our earlier preference for this post was Norman Robertson of Canada, in view of the fact that the United States is likely to be selected as the permanent site of the UNO, it is not advisable for the [Page 1478] United States Delegation to promote him or any other person from the Americas for the post of Secretary-General. No action should be taken, however, to oppose the selection of a qualified person from the Americas if support for such a candidate should develop.43

Spaak and Van Royen are listed because they seem most nearly to satisfy the qualifications set forth above. The fact that they are from Europe may assuage the feeling of those who wished to have the UNO in Europe.

Candidates for the Secretary-General

Candidates Proposed by United States Other Candidates Acceptable to the United States
1) Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium) 1) Norman A. Robertson (Canada)
2) J. H. Van Royen (Netherlands) 2) L. B. Pearson (Canada)
3) Auguste De Schryver (Belgium)
4) Stanley Bruce (Australia)
5) Jan Masaryk (Czechoslovakia)

[Here follows discussion of proposed slate for the Second Meeting of the Preparatory Commission.]

viii. president of the general assembly

Basis of Selection

Lie of Norway has been suggested as a candidate because he is known to be a competent presiding officer and because it is felt that this important post should be reserved for a country not slated for non-permanent membership on the Security Council or for membership on the Economic and Social Council.

Candidate for President of General Assembly

Trygve Halvdan Lie (Norway)

ix. vice-presidents of general assembly

Statement under VI above applicable.44

x. chairman of general assembly committees

No preference is expressed at this time for chairmanships of the committees of the General Assembly since selections for those positions [Page 1479] will undoubtedly be influenced by developments during the meetings of the Preparatory Commission.

[Here follows certain information about the distribution of posts as between states.]

  1. This memorandum was transmitted in toto to the Acting United States Representative in telegram 10053, Preco 289, November 16, 6 p.m., “for your general guidance in negotiations during PreCo”.
  2. In an earlier draft of this paper there appears a notation as follows: “The British have suggested [Gen. Dwight D.] Eisenhower, [former Governor Harold E.] Stassen, and Stettinius.”
  3. Section VI, not printed, was titled “Vice-Presidents of Preparatory Commission”, and stated that “The United States Delegate was instructed on September 22 that the Department preferred to leave him with freedom of action in selecting candidates for these posts. It was brought to his attention that the posts might be used to give appropriate recognition to members not selected for elective posts on Councils or for presiding chairs.”