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

Memorandum for the President

Subject: The Forthcoming Conversations with Colonel Stanley, British Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Mr. Taussig has advised the Department that you desire to confer with Colonel Oliver Stanley, Secretary of State for the Colonies, during [Page 19] his forthcoming visit to Washington. Colonel Stanley is expected to be here from January 15 to January 18, inclusive.37

Colonel Stanley’s visit is concerned mainly with the future program of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission. Mr. Taussig will have informed you of the questions involved, which he has discussed fully with the Department.

Although the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission is the only topic which Colonel Stanley is prepared to discuss officially, other questions relating to dependent territories generally may become the subject of informal conversations. We propose to have only exploratory discussions with Colonel Stanley, since we are not ready as yet for definitive expressions of view. We understand that he is in a similar position, although we are told that he may make available to us, unofficially, a paper on regional advisory commissions prepared by the Colonial Office but which still requires clearance with the Dominions.

The principal questions which may arise in our informal discussions with Colonel Stanley are as follows:

1. Differentiation in status between trust territories and colonies generally.

British View.—British thinking tends to assimilate trust or mandated territories to colonies generally with single-nation administration and responsibility. They seem to be prepared to accept the principle of consultation through regional advisory commissions.

Our Proposed View.—Our thinking to date favors retention of the distinction between trust territories which have an international status and ordinary colonies. In our usage, “trusteeship” has an international significance whereas the British apply it in a national sense, with themselves as trustees. We favor the establishment of international trusteeship for certain areas and have expressed our willingness to accept the principle of regional advisory commissions for colonial areas.

2. Independence or self-government as the ultimate goal for dependent peoples.

British View.—In British opinion the goal should be self-government within the framework of empire.

Our Proposed View.—Our thinking to date favors independence as the goal of those dependencies capable of enjoying it. We think, however, that permitting such territories the option of freely choosing whether to be independent or to remain within an empire, might be acceptable.

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3. Application of the principle of international accountability”.

British View.—The British are apparently willing to accept the principle of limited international accountability for their dependent territories but insist that responsibility cannot be divorced from control.

Our Proposed View.—Our thinking to date has been in favor of the principle of some new form of international accountability for the administration of all dependent territories, colonies and trust territories alike that should gain universal acceptance. The precise form and extent of accountability still remain to be decided.

4. Adoption of a Declaration of Standards.

British View.—The British appear to oppose a general declaration but supported the Recommendation on Social Policy at the Philadelphia Labor Conference.38

Our Proposed View.—Our thinking to date has favored a general declaration for the guidance of all authorities administering dependencies.

5. Participation in Regional Advisory Commissions.

British View.—The British are inclined to favor the development of regional commissions, of a strictly advisory nature, for dependent areas.

Our Proposed View.—Our thinking to date has favored the principle of such commissions, but the extent to which the United States should participate still remains to be decided.

6. Relation of Regional Advisory Commissions to the General International Organization.

British View.—The British view is unknown.

Our Proposed View.—This problem still remains to be worked out.

There is attached hereto a memorandum setting forth the background of recent work by the Department regarding dependent areas.


Subject: The Background of Recent Department Work Regarding Dependent Areas

Our broad objectives with respect to dependent areas have been to promote the advancement of dependent peoples through international collaboration in the interest of both the dependent peoples and of the [Page 21] world at large, and, to that end, to encourage and assist dependent peoples to govern and sustain themselves and to attain higher economic and social standards, to safeguard the security interests of dependent areas and the world at large, and to apply the principle of non-discriminatory treatment in dependent territories to the nationals of all peace-loving states.

On March 9, 1943, in a “Draft Declaration by the United Nations on National Independence”, prepared by the Secretary of State and his advisers and submitted by the Secretary to the President,39 a clear distinction was drawn between mandated or detached territories and colonial territories. It was proposed that the former only be placed under international trusteeship. The draft also embodied an earlier British suggestion for regional commissions for colonial areas.40 Perhaps the most significant proposal, however, was the stipulation that colonial peoples should be granted progressive measures of self-government and should be given full independence in accordance with a fixed time schedule. The draft was discussed with the British at Quebec41 and with the British and the Russians at Moscow.42

British objections to the American proposals were noted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943, at the Moscow Conference in October. 1943, as well as during the talks with the Stettinius Mission in London in April 1944.43

The Department’s proposals with respect to dependent territories were further refined during the months preceding the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations.44 They have retained the basic ideas of the March 9 Draft Declaration with modifications and elaborations suggested by the Quebec and Moscow Conversations and by the London talks of the Stettinius Mission. The plans are incorporated in the three following documents:45 [Page 22]

“A Draft Declaration Regarding Administration of Dependent Areas”, designed to establish minimum political, economic, and social standards for all non-self-governing territories, whether colonies, protectorates, or trust territories.
“A Draft Plan for Territorial Trusteeships”, designed to supersede the League Mandates System46 and to be attached to the general international organization. This mechanism would apply to existing mandated territories and to such former Italian and Japanese possessions as may be placed under it.
“A Draft Plan for Regional Advisory Commissions for Dependent Areas”, similar to the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, which might be set up in the Pacific and in Africa. These would be independent of the trusteeship mechanism.

Our draft plans on dependent areas have not been revealed to other interested governments. Just before the American Tentative Proposals for a general international organization were transmitted to the British, Soviet, and Chinese governments, it was agreed, at the instance of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to delete the chapter on international trusteeship on the ground that discussion of this chapter might involve difficult territorial questions.47 The problem of dependent territories, therefore, was not discussed during the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations, although the British, Soviet, and Chinese governments expressed interest in the subject. It was understood, however, that the issue would be considered in subsequent negotiations.

The three documents described above are now being revised in the light of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. They are to be submitted to the President for his approval before being discussed with other governments.

  1. For a press release of January 16 on Colonel Stanley’s visit, see Department of State Bulletin, January 21, 1945, p. 107. Memorandum of the conversation of Colonel Stanley with Departmental officials on January 18 not printed.
  2. For text of recommendation (No. 70) concerning minimum standards of social policy in dependent territories, adopted by the International Labor Conference at its twenty-sixth session held at Philadelphia, April 20–May 12, 1944, see International Labour Conference, Twenty-sixth Session, Philadelphia, 1944, Record of Proceedings, p. 585. For correspondence on United States participation in the Conference, see pp. 1580 ff.
  3. For text of draft declaration of March 9, presented to President Roosevelt on March 17, 1943, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 747.
  4. For summary statement on the draft joint declaration on colonial policy, presented by the British Ambassador (Halifax) to Secretary Hull on February 4, 1943, see numbered paragraph 4 of bracketed note, ibid., p. 1051.
  5. Documentation on the First Quebec Conference, August 17–24, 1943, is scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.
  6. For documentation on the Moscow Conference, October 18–November 1, 1943, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 513 ff.
  7. For the report of Under Secretary Stettinius to Secretary Hull on conversations held in London, April 7–April 29, 1944, see ibid., 1944, vol. iii, p. 1.
  8. For projected chapter IX, “Arrangements for Territorial Trusteeships”, as prepared prior to the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations, see “United States Tentative Proposals for a General International Organization, July 18, 1944,” ibid., vol. i, p. 653. The text of the United States proposals was handed on July 18, 1944, to representatives of the British, Soviet, and Chinese Ambassadors, but chapted IX (printed ibid., p. 665) was omitted from the document.
  9. None printed; for information on the preparation of these papers, see Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, pp. 387 ff., and 428 ff.
  10. See summary statement, “Background of United States Policy” on dependent territories, 1918–1943, in Conference Series No. 71: Charter of the United Nations: Report to the President on the Results of the San Francisco Conference by the Chairman of the United States Delegation, the Secretary of State, June 26, 1945 (Department of State publication No. 2349), p. 126.
  11. See letter of August 3, 1944, from Gen. George C. Marshall to the Secretary of State, conveying the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary’s letter of December 30, 1944, to the Secretary of War (Stimson), Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 700 and 922, respectively.