Lot 58 D 191

Policy Papers for President Roosevelt

World Security72


Conference of American Republics in Mexico City and Discussions With Latin American Ambassadors in Washington

Should Prime Minister Churchill or Marshal Stalin raise any question about either of the above subjects, the following background material may be helpful.

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Mexico City Conference

The Conference, which will convene February 21, is not a regular Consultative Meeting of American Foreign Ministers. It is being held, however, in accordance with the practice of the American republics to consult together on matters of mutual interest. No such general meeting having been held since that at Rio de Janeiro in January, 1942,73 a demand for a meeting has been growing during the past year in the other American republics. The agenda for the Conference is as follows:

Further cooperative measures for the prosecution of the war to complete victory.
Consideration of problems of international organization for peace and security.
World organization
The further development of the inter-American system, and its relations to world organization.
Consideration of the economic and social problems of the Americas.
War and transitional Economic cooperation
Consideration of methods of further cooperation for the improvement of economic and social conditions of the peoples of the Americas with the end of raising their general standard of living.
Other factors of general and immediate concern to the participating Governments.

Attention may be given to the Argentine problem.

With respect to plans for world organization, it is the objective of this Government to have a full discussion of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals at the Conference, and no commitment inconsistent with the proposals will be assumed by this Government at the Conference.

Discussions with Latin American Ambassadors

This Government has followed the same policy in discussing the Dumbarton Oaks proposals with the Ambassadors of the other American republics in Washington at a series of meetings during the fall and winter which have had the same objective of enabling the other republics to express their views, and of winning support for the proposals.

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The International Court of Justice

Provisions of the proposals

The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals74 provide that: (1) an international court of justice should be established as the principal judicial organ of the Organization; (2) the court should have a statute which should be annexed to the Charter of the Organization; (3) all members of the Organization should ipso facto be parties to the statute; (4) states not members of the Organization should be permitted to become parties to the statute upon conditions laid down by the General Assembly upon recommendation by the Security Council; and (5) the statute should be either (a) the statute of the present Permanent Court of International Justice75 with such modifications as may be desirable, or (b) a new statute based upon the present Statute.

Present status of the problem

It was suggested informally during the Conversations76 that prior to the United Nations Conference a preliminary meeting of jurists be held for the purpose of drafting the statute of the court and formulating plans for its establishment, to be submitted to that conference. No definite agreement was reached on this suggestion, and there was no detailed discussion of the content of the proposed statute nor of the possible means by which it might be put into effect. The United States delegation handed informally to the other delegations a tentative revised draft of the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice77 as a possible basis for future consideration.

The preliminary meeting of jurists, and, subsequently, the Conference, will therefore be faced with complex legal and practical problems resulting from the fact that the Permanent Court of International Justice is still an organization in being, and that the adoption either of a new statute or a revision of the present Statute will necessarily involve the interests of states which will not be initial members of the organization. These include eight enemy states or states under [Page 38] armistice, and six neutral states. Since no decision was reached during the Conversations on the time for the proposed meeting of jurists, on its composition, or on its terms of reference, these questions will presumably be decided by agreement between the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and China.

Recommended procedure

If this matter arises for consideration, it is recommended that the following procedure be favored: (1) the convening of the meeting of jurists immediately upon the issuance of invitations to the United Nations Conference; (2) the meeting to consist of about fifteen jurists selected on the basis of technical competence by agreement among the four powers; (3) their terms of reference to be (a) the preparation for submission to the Conference of a statute for the court, on the basis of the present Statute, leaving for decision at the United Nations Conference the question whether it is to be treated as a revision of the present Statute, or as a new one, and (b) the preparation for submission to the Conference of alternative procedures for putting the statute into effect.


Liquidation of the League of Nations

Action at Dumbarton Oaks

The question of the dissolution of the League of Nations and the transition from it to the United Nations Organization was discussed informally by the representatives of the United States, Great Britain, and China at Dumbarton Oaks, October 7, 1944.78 It was informally agreed that papers on the subject should be exchanged, no date being set for the exchange. As this Government is not a member of the League it has preferred to await the initiative of the other Governments in this matter. No papers have been received. A copy of a paper prepared in the Department is attached.79

Action of the League’s Supervisory Committee

Early in December 1944 the Supervisory Committee of the League met in London and appointed a committee of three consisting of Mr. Hambro (Norway), Mr. Bruce (Australia), and Mr. Castillo Nájera (Mexico), to select a Conciliation Committee for the purpose of conferring with such group as might be designated by the United Nations [Page 39] Conference to deal with questions arising out of the dissolution of the League and the transfer of functions to the new Organization.

Previous to this London meeting, on November 23 the Mexican Ambassador, Chairman of the Supervisory Committee, expressed the hope to Mr. Stettinius that when the contemplated Conciliation Committee should meet with the designated United Nations group at the forthcoming United Nations Conference, the United States would appoint an expert to consult with the Committee.80 The Acting Secretary made no commitment on this point, but said the matter would be borne in mind.

After the London meeting, on December 23 the Mexican Ambassador informed Mr. Stettinius of the action taken by the Supervisory Committee and stated that the Conciliation Committee would be ready to meet with the designated United Nations group at their convenience. The Secretary made no comment and explained that no plans could be made for such a meeting until a time had been set for a United Nations Conference to consider the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals.

It is expected that the League Supervisory Committee at a meeting scheduled for January 19, 1945 in London will discuss the matter of the liquidation of the League generally and decide what preparatory work should be undertaken for a further meeting to be held probably in July at which a report will be presented for adoption.81

Recommended procedure

It is recommended that no initiative be taken by the United States with respect to the liquidation of the League. The question should be left for consideration at the United Nations Conference, unless a different procedure is initiated by the United Kingdom and/or by China, both of which are members of the League.

  1. For policy papers I, II, III, and V in this series on “World Security” in the Yalta Briefing Book, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, pp. 85, 90, 91, and 92; attachments to No. I are printed ibid., pp. 77 and 89.
  2. For documentation on the Third Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, held at Rio de Janeiro, January 15–28, 1942, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. v, pp. 6 ff.
  3. For provisions in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals relating to the International Court of Justice, see ch. VII, sees. 1–5; also, ch. IV, sec 1(c): ch. V, sec. B(4); and VIII, sec. A(6), Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 895, 891, 892, and 896, respectively.
  4. For text, see The International Court of Justice, p. 1.
  5. See progress report of September 6 on the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations by Under Secretary of State Stettinius, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 771.
  6. For text of this draft, dated August 15, 1944, see Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, p. 666; text with some variation in nomenclature is printed in The International Court of Justice, p. 57. For an account of the drafting of early proposals for an international court of justice by the Department of State, see Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, pp. 114–117 and 485–491; for documentation regarding a British proposal for a joint study by the British and the Allied Governments of the future of the Permanent Court of International Justice, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, pp. 39 ff.
  7. See informal record of the fourth meeting of the Joint Formulation Group, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, p. 885
  8. Not attached to file copy of document; reference may be to a memorandum of November 21, 1944, by Henry Reiff, Legal Specialist on International Organization, ibid., p. 915.
  9. Memorandum of conversation between Secretary Stettinius and the Mexican Ambassador, not printed.
  10. For summary of the March 1945 report of the Committee, see note No. 150, March 30, from the British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State, p. 175.