Address of the Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs (Cooke)42

With reference to the note of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, dated 21 of the present month, addressed to the Foreign [Page 199] Ministers of the American Republics, I have decided, as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, to make the following declaration:

I. —Preceded by a long enumeration of antecedents which comes to an end with references to the Resolutions and declarations approved at the Mexico Conference and with a quotation of the dispositions of the Charter of the United Nations adopted at the recent San Francisco Conference, the communication under review analyses the principles of international law which refer to “non-intervention”, and as a consequence lays down the following premises:

—“Non-intervention” cannot be transformed into “the right to invoke a principle in order to violate with impunity every other right.
—“…43 non-intervention must not be the shield under the cover of which transgressions are committed, right is violated, the Axis agents and forces are protected and … undertakings … are broken”.

Finally, after the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay has made an exegesis of a doctrine “whose sole innovation—according to his words—consists in it being recorded on a diplomatic document, which many consider insensitive, and has pointed out the necessity that principles, so often repeated and proclaimed, be transformed, when circumstances so require, into reality, he addresses himself to this Foreign Ministry—and to the others of America—to stress the necessity of achieving, in face of well-known events, a collective multilateral pronouncement, employing for this end some of the means already advised: whether it be by an especially appointed commission, through an express consultation, or incorporating this theme to the agenda of the future Rio de Janeiro Conference.

Considered in its nature and purposes, the Uruguayan communication signifies—whatever interpretation is given to a thesis as unexpected as it is dangerous—the discussion of a matter of extraordinary transcendency.

II. —The Argentine Government upholds the principles established in the Resolutions and Declarations to which the Uruguayan Foreign Minister refers in his enumeration of antecedents, regarding the convenience of strengthening the procedures of democratic and constitutional governments, the existence of solidary democracy in America, the defence of the rights of man, and in particular, the concept contained in the Declaration of Mexico44 that: “The purpose of the State is the happiness of man in society. The interests of the community should be harmonised with the rights of the individual. The American man cannot conceive of living without justice just as he [Page 200] cannot conceive of living without liberty”. But the Argentine Government does not admit that the interpretation of these principles and the appreciation of whether the rules which they sustain have been violated or not, may be subject to the will or the judgment of foreign powers.

III. —The Argentine Republic, which as member of the American community, signed the resolutions adopted at the Mexico Conference, has and is faithfully fulfilling all the undertakings contracted jointly with its sister nations. This fact was proved by the Foreign Ministry in the documents published on September 11 and November 12, where a detailed analysis of the task carried out by the Argentine Republic, enable it to affirm that there no longer exist in this country publications, schools, associations or centres of nazi-fascism from where might be disseminated doctrines which would attempt against the American Democratic Ideal and which are repugnant to the general feeling of the Argentine people.

If in this task, as also in everything regarding the measures taken with enemy property, there has been any omission or delay, it has not been due to weakness nor to the forsaking of an unequivocal policy, but to the magnitude and nature of the work already carried out and to be carried out.

With no other purpose than to show how circumstantial reasons may sometimes thwart the best intentions, I recall that the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay expressed the following a few days ago in the Parliament of his country: “A curious and singular situation exists: notwithstanding the fact that our country has marched at the vanguard by its adhesion to the Allied cause in its declarations and in general political action, in the economic terrain we march at the rearguard, and I believe that to-day Uruguay is the only country in America which has not adopted measures which, although painful, I confess, because they sometimes affect persons we hold in personal esteem, however constitute the minimum sacrifice which Uruguay can make to a common cause to which it has made so little contribution in other aspects”.

Any accusation, until now ill-defined, which points to the Argentine Republic as having violated its international undertakings, is groundless, and there is nothing to justify possible allusions of the note under discussion or ulterior references.

IV. —No words can make us forget that for over a century, from Monroe to Roosevelt, the nations of America have been struggling to establish, as one of the most prized conquests of their Positive International Law, the principle of “non-intervention”. This principle was born of the necessity to defend the American continent against the possible extension of the European political system of the Holy Alliance.

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This historical event gave birth to a juridical rule which was gradually consolidated until it obtained doctrinary form: that “intervention”, that is, the forceful interference in the internal or external affairs of another State, is contrary to International Law; that International Public Law is a right of coordination and not of subordination; that no State has jurisdiction over other States; and that every “Intervention” is illicit because it violates the fundamental right of independence of States, unequivocal juridical basis for international co-existence. An intervention signifies that a State requires of another a determined action or omission in a general political, economic or financial order; for example, to submit another to control.

“The peoples of America—lay down the preambles of the Act of Chapultepec—animated by a profound love of justice, remain sincerely devoted to the principles of international law; it is their desire that such principles, notwithstanding the present difficult circumstances, prevail with even greater force in future international relations”. Faithful to these ideals they have incorporated to their national legal systems, through Conventions, Resolutions and Declarations, the following rules:

They will in no case resort to diplomatic or armed intervention, unless this attitude be agreed upon in other collective treaties of which these States be signatories. (South-American Anti-War Treaty of Non-Agression and Conciliation, 1933).
They repudiate the intervention of one State in the internal or external affairs of another. (Seventh Inter-American Conference, 1933, and Inter-American Conference for the Consolidation of the Peace, 1936).
the acknowledgement that the respect for the individuality, sovereignty and independence of each American State constitutes the essence of international order, protected by continental solidarity, made manifest throughout American history and sustained by declarations and treaties in force. (Eighth International American Conference, 1938).

The positive and recent confirmation of these postulates took place at the Mexico Conference where the signatory States declared:

—That all sovereign States are juridically equal among themselves.
—That every State has the right to the respect of its individuality and independence on the part of the other members of the international community. (Act of Chapultepec, 1st. Part, 1945).

These principles are ratified in the Declaration of Mexico which reads:

“The American community maintains the following essential principles as governing the relations among the States composing it:

—International Law is the rule of conduct for all States.
—States are juridically equal.
—Each State is free and sovereign, and no State may intervene in the internal or external affairs of another”. (Resolution XI of the Mexico Conference).

The preceding principles have constantly been put into practice and maintained by the Argentine Republic in its relationship with the other States and in the International Congresses it has attended.

V. —To accept the innovatory thesis—to whose originality its author has modestly renounced—would be tantamount to decrying, in the name of a democratic solidarity which nobody disputes or denies, a transcendental juridical structure which is the result of long years of effort. The very fact of “non-intervention” would provoke “intervention”. This means that right would be overcome by counter-right.

“Our respect for the sovereignty of other nations—I said on the 19 of this month—which has been traditional in our foreign policy, is so great as that which we demand for our own sovereignty, which we uphold and defend with legitimate and natural pride. For this reason, we reject any attempt of foreign interference in the political differences which may circumstantially divide the Argentines” … “Never has the Argentine Nation suffered the affront of a foreign interference in the direction of its policy or the election of its government. Our mistakes have been repaired within our frontiers and our quarrels have been decided at the polls or in fratricidal struggles, between Argentines and with an Argentine spirit”.

And the Government of which I form part will certainly not be the one to abjure the tradition of our history.

VI. —Within the order of international American relationship there can be no ground more dangerous or slippery than the foreign appreciation of the political situation of nations. Notwithstanding the fact that the American people are true followers of democracy since the dawn of their independence, “de facto” governments of different type and alterations in constitutional order have been frequent occurrences in all of them. The political culture of their peoples, as also the example of the extremes to which lead government arbitrariety [sic] and totalitarian regimes have done away with all inclinations that might lead to the consolidation of antidemocratic systems of government. To pretend to confound “de facto” governments possessing genuine American characteristics, with typical totalitarian systems, is to create a problem among countries which at some time or other of their existence have lived through similar situations, and at the same time would result in erecting some nations into the judges of the affairs of others and mixing them up in foreign passions and political differences.

VIII [VII]. —There is no “good neighbour” policy—the most precious legacy left by President Roosevelt for the relationship between [Page 203] American peoples—that can resist interferences such as that proposed in the note of the Uruguayan Foreign Minister. Nobody can ignore that as a natural consequence of its power and greatness, the control of the intervention policy would fall upon the United States, thus invalidating the efforts of the great President Roosevelt who with his conduct banished the fears of those who attributed to his country a “hard-handed” policy.

The proposed intervention policy would bring destruction to the brotherhood and spirit of cooperation, basis on which must rest the spiritual and material solidarity of America. Senator Connally, the distinguished president of the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the United States Senate, understood this matter well when he said:

“… the less the United States interferes in the internal affairs of any Latin-American country, the better it will be, not only for our own welfare, but for that of the other 21 American nations, and for their mutual cooperation” … “We desire the other nations to realise that we are showing every consideration for their sovereignty and independence and that it is not our intention to interfere in any way in their internal affairs, unless they concern the interest of a North-American citizen or that of some North-American property”.

VIII. —This Foreign Ministry does not ignore that a campaign to bring about confusion and to spread defamation, which tries to sully the international reputation of the Republic may have succeeded in disfiguring the real political situation of our country, magnifying certain facts and tergiversating our intentions. It deplores this circumstance for the consequences which may be derived for the harmony and good understanding with its sister nations. Aware, however, of the serious question resulting from the note of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, the Argentine Foreign Ministry expresses, on behalf of its Government, its disagreement with the suggestions therein contained and stresses the convenience of avoiding that precipitate attitudes or judgements contribute to frustrate the common purpose of maintaining and consolidating union and cordiality among the nations of the Continent.

Buenos Aires, November 29, 1945.

  1. As it appeared in Bulletin 177 of the Department of Information for Abroad News Service of the Argentine Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Worship; copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 1477, December 4, 1945, from Buenos Aires; received December 11.
  2. Omissions throughout this document indicated in the original.
  3. Resolution XI, Pan American Union, Final Act, p. 49.