Record of Informal Meeting “With Diplomatic Representatives of Certain American Republics, Held at Washington, January 26, 1945, 3 p.m.59

[Informal Notes]

In the absence of the Secretary the meeting was convened by the Under Secretary. Mr. Grew, after expressing his pleasure in greeting the Chiefs of Mission, gave a short address in which he stated that, as the Chiefs of Mission were aware, plans had become definite for a conference to meet next month at Mexico City; that during the period before and at the conference he felt that all would wish to give most careful study to the matter of international organization and to the important place of the traditional inter-American system with relation to it; that with respect to the latter it was believed that the way should be paved at Mexico City through exchange of views and recommendations made to take, at the appropriate forum which would appear to be the Ninth International Conference of American States, formal and definitive action to develop and strengthen the Inter-American System in order that it might play its proper role in the postwar world; that a more immediate and no less important matter was to complete at these meetings of the Chiefs of Mission, the exchanges of views regarding the general international organization; [Page 28] that ten American republics had provided most useful and interesting comments on the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals—a memorandum from the Honduran Government60 having just been received in addition to the others previously sent to this government—; and that this government welcomed the opportunity, in order that there might be a full understanding of the various positions, of being informed of the views of the other governments, and to explain the basic reasons which underlie certain provisions of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, not only regarding those questions which have been raised in the memoranda but also with respect to other points which the governments might wish to make.

Mr. Grew then said he would like to add a few further words on the World Organization. He stated that much hard work had been put in at Dumbarton Oaks and the results had been more successful than had been anticipated but that there was a great deal still to be done. He then said that he believed that there were two important points that should be kept in mind.

He stated that in the first place there was much to be learned from history as to the necessity of taking full measures for the preservation of peace. He said that efforts had been made almost from time immemorial to attain this end but that all had failed because they were superficial. He likened the measures demanded for assuring peace to those for the cure of cancer in that cancer could not be temporized with and required the most drastic methods in its treatment. Thus, he said, in the organization for peace and security in the world it was necessary to be prepared to use all means at our disposal, including force; although he hoped, of course, that force would not be necessary.

His second point was that no matter how much hard work—and no work was more important than this—was put into the formulation of the World Organization and whatever plans for the organization emerged from the United Nations Conference some nations would not think them perfect. The world, he said, should not for that reason be discouraged. He said that as an illustration when the American Constitution was drafted there was practically no one at the time who was satisfied with it; yet it has lasted over 150 years, been developed and amended, and has served as a very successful institution. We should, he said, all make up our minds to give the world organization a chance to succeed and an opportunity for it to develop and grow. He admonished that unless we did so and if it did not succeed the next war through scientific developments in the machinery of destruction might well blot out whole peoples and civilizations. We could not therefore permit another war to happen and it was [Page 29] incumbent upon us to draw up by hard work a good document and thereafter support it.

Mr. Grew then reiterated his previous remark that all possible should be done to strengthen the inter-American system.

Mr. Grew concluded his comments by stating that he regretted that due to other important engagements he would not be able to remain at the meeting as he would like to do and that therefore he would ask Mr. Rockefeller to preside in his place.

At the request of the Ambassador of Chile, the discussion began with paragraph 5 of Chapter II. Ambassador Mora read the proposal of his Government to amend paragraph 5 that “whenever disputes affect a Continent or region and; do not constitute a danger to the general world peace, the States of other Continents or regions shall not be obligated to participate in operations of a military nature decided upon by the Council and the Assembly”. He explained that it would be exceedingly difficult to stir up the feelings of a people in one part of the world over a dispute in another part of the world far removed from it or to make the effort to send troops to intervene in a controversy in some other remote area that had no direct effect on the state sending the troops or which did not endanger world peace, particularly if the Government requested to send troops had had no voice in the decision to send them.

Dr. Pasvolsky remarked with respect to Ambassador Mora’s proposal that the proposed charter of the world organization provided that the use of armed forces would be subject to special agreements after the organization is created; the agreements to be negotiated between various states, subject to the approval of the Security Council. He said that the basic objective was to assure the maintenance of peace and security. He pointed out that peace could be said to be indivisible. For this reason, he explained, the Security Council must decide whether a dispute was of local or worldwide significance. Provision was made in the Dumbarton, Oaks proposals to encourage regional boards to settle regional disputes61 but the Council would have to decide whether all nations would give assistance in helping to settle specific disputes or only some nations would be called upon to render such assistance.

The Ambassador of Mexico62 stated that it was very difficult to decide when a particular dispute might or might not constitute a danger to world peace, and it would be extremely dangerous to leave this decision to a group of countries or a region. He stated that in his belief, when force was used, it should not be that of neighboring [Page 30] countries because this would engender hate and retaliation. He cited the action taken under the League of Nations in handling the Saar plebiscite63 as a case in point. There the controversy directly concerned France and Germany and it was found best not to use the troops of either country but forces of other nations not directly involved (i.e. Swedish, Dutch, and English forces). He recommended that there be left to the decision of the Security Council the forces to be used in each case. He said that the word “continent” was useful as a matter of descriptive geography, but was useless in a political sense; that while Canada geographically might be said to belong to the Western Hemisphere, politically it was part of the British Commonwealth of Nations; that the only permanent division would be north and south because the equator could not be changed.

The Ambassador of Honduras64 spoke in favor of extending to the whole world the principle of Inter-American solidarity in the sense that an attack on one American republic wag considered an attack on all of them.

Ambassador Mora said that the discussion had covered his point. He said that he would like, however, to have the subject left open for further future discussion.

Dr. Pasvolsky here suggested that new points raised at the meeting should, because of their difficulty, be studied and discussed later.

The discussion thereafter was led by the Ambassador of Mexico who read aloud the articles of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals beginning with article 1 of Chapter III and who called attention to the suggestions for amendments made in the various memoranda.

Dr. Pasvolsky explained that the term “peace-loving states” used in Chapter III had been chosen as a criteria of membership in preference to other terms in order to emphasize the “peace” aspect of the organization; the most basic concept of the term being that of nations devoted to peace and determined to do what was necessary to make it possible for all nations to live at peace. He said that the determination of which were the peace-loving states (to be settled when the final Charter is drawn up) was involved with the problem of what nations would constitute the initial members, and that it was proposed in [Page 31] the Dumbarton Oaks document that the Assembly should admit new states on recommendation of the Security Council,65 it being the joint responsibility of the two bodies to decide whether or not a non-member state should be admitted in accordance with the judgment as to whether such state was a peace-loving state. He mentioned that although the Council could not decide this matter by itself and could only make a recommendation to the Assembly, it was thought it would be better to initiate action in the smaller rather than in the larger body but that the latter of course would not have to admit a state applying for admission. He concluded his remarks on this topic by stating that it undoubtedly would require further discussion.

The Ambassador of Mexico stated that the attaining of permanent peace through cooperation of all States was an ideal to be achieved and that Chapter III should be drawn up with this ideal in mind. He believed that an organization should be worked out now which would not commit the same errors as the one set up after the last war but that admittedly the question of admission of new states was a complicated one.

Chapter IV was then discussed. The Ambassador of Mexico read the comments of his country and Venezuela66 with regard to this chapter. He pointed out that provision was made in the chapter for the organization to have as many subsidiary groups as necessary.

Dr. Pasvolsky stated that the chapter was designed to give only an indication of the principal organs. He mentioned that the Economic and Social Council could or could not have been included. He explained that the reason for omitting that Council and the Military Staff Committee was to focus attention on the fact that in the Security Council were vested the principal functions of the organization in so far as they related to peace and security; that in the General Assembly were centered those relating to the creation of conditions conducive to peace; and that the International Court of Justice would be responsible for dealing with legal problems. He added that although, as the document now stands, the Economic and Social Council is under the authority of the Assembly, in the final document this could be changed.

Chapter V on the General Assembly was next discussed. Referring to the opening sentence of the chapter (“All members of the Organization should be members of the General Assembly and should have a number of representatives to be specified in the Charter.”), Ambassador Castillo Nájera presented the Mexican commentary limiting membership to the General Assembly to three delegates from each [Page 32] country but he stated that he personally believed that more than three might be necessary if the work of the Assembly was divided into more than 3 commissions. He also noted that the other commentaries supported the view that the number of members of each country in the Assembly not be limited.

Dr. Pasvolsky stated that various criticisms had been voiced regarding the limited powers of the Assembly. He explained that in all the discussions he had tried to make clear the point that in building the organization, an attempt had been made to plan it (for effectiveness of action) on the principle that the functions of the organization would not be assigned to two bodies at the same time, but that each would have its own responsibilities. He stated that the word “primary” in connection with the Security Council meant that there would be some functions relating to the maintenance of peace and security which would rest with the General Assembly, and that therefore there had been included the sentence reading … “Any question relating to the maintenance of international peace and security … and to make recommendations with regard to any such principles or questions.” He said the Assembly was completely free to deal in its discussions with any question arising in the field of international peace and security and could take up on its own initiative and make any recommendations it wished to on questions referred to it by the Security Council; that the Security Council also had the right to bring before the Assembly questions with which it was concerned and to make recommendations; that there were however two limitations: (1) responsibility was divided according to the body competent to take action—i.e. in a case where the Council was dealing with a matter serious enough for the Council to be concerned with it, then the Assembly should make it possible for the Council to carry out its heavy responsibility; (2) in the light of past experience it seemed very necessary to establish a system for the maintenance of peace and security which would place primary responsibility for action in a body at all times prepared to carry out this responsibility and one, as the Security Council was designed to be, which would remain in continuous session and not meet only periodically as would the Assembly. He then said that it was obvious that peace and security would be maintained only if the nations of the world should develop among themselves relations requiring a minimum of adjustments; that most of them must be willing to behave—with only a few law-breakers. He pointed out that obviously if most countries were not willing to support the principles of the world organization it would be a complete failure; that in this respect the problems of international relations would constitute a very important function of the Assembly and that if the Assembly failed to meet them, the Security Council would be powerless

[Page 33]

The Ambassador of Ecuador67 mentioned that he appreciated hearing the comments of Dr. Pasvolsky on the points that had been raised as he felt that the most useful purpose served by these meetings was an explanation of the meaning and significance of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals which Dr. Pasvolsky was undertaking to impart.

The Ambassador of Mexico, referring to article 1, Section B, Chapter V of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, brought up the question of withdrawal of members from the organization.

Dr. Pasvolsky stated that universal membership was based on the principle that the organization was an association of nations with common ideals and common standards of behavior. They must, he said, be agreed to undertake certain actions as obligations. He stated that States by accepting certain common principles would be thereby eligible to membership in the organization and that therefore membership had not been made to rest on the fact that a nation exists, but rather that a nation lived by certain principles. He stressed that it was clear that if peace and security were to be maintained, all nations must act in accordance with these principles. He said that when, however, a nation did not wish to accept these obligations once it had entered the organization, when it habitually violated obligations, it was no longer a part of the community of nations, but it was not thereby absolved from its obligations. He mentioned that all nations had certain obligations, whether they were members of the organization or not.

With regard to the Brazilian commentary68 on Section B of Article V as a whole, Dr. Pasvolsky said that the important question was how much authority the organization should have. He said that if we were to assume that the organization would become permanently established over the next 10 years or more, and found that its functions were being well performed and the world was getting into the habit of looking to this organization for authority it might well be that no modification would be necessary. He said that the whole matter could be reconsidered during the transitional period but that it was important not to cast any doubt now.

The Venezuelan Ambassador69 brought up the question of unanimity. Mr. Pasvolsky stated that there was no provision for unanimity of decision in the Assembly.

The discussions terminated on Section B of Article V and the meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

Mr. Rockefeller stated that if it would be convenient for the Chiefs of Mission the next meeting would be held next Wednesday, January 31, at 3:00 p.m.

  1. Present at this meeting were Under Secretary Grew, Assistant Secretary Rockefeller, certain other American officials, and Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions of the American Republics, except Argentina and El Salvador. Copy of this document obtained from the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, papers of Mr. Leo Pasvolsky, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State.
  2. Doc. 2, G/7(m), UNCIO Documents, vol. 3, p. 349.
  3. Chapter VIII, section C, “Regional Arrangements”, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 898.
  4. Francisco Castillo Nájera.
  5. In accordance with provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919, at the end of 15 years from the coming into force of the Treaty, a plebiscite was held in the Saar on January 13, 1935, to allow the inhabitants to indicate the sovereignty under which they desired to be placed; the electors voted for re-union of the territory with Germany as against union with France or continuation of League administration. The maintenance of order was entrusted to international contingents (among which neither France nor Germany would be represented) composed of forces of the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, and Sweden. (League of Nations, Information Section, Geneva, 1935, The Saar Plebiscite.)
  6. Julian R. Cáceres.
  7. Chapter V, section B (2), Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 892.
  8. For observations of the Government of Venezuela, October 31, 1944, see doc. 2, G/7(d) (1), UNCIO Documents, vol. 3, p. 189.
  9. Galo Plaza.
  10. For Brazilian comments on Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, November 4, 1944, see doc. G/7(e), May 2, UNCIO Documents, vol. 3; p. 232.
  11. Diógenes Escalante.