710.11/12–845: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Uruguay ( Dawson )46

479. Comments received as of December 6 indicate very great interest press and Govt in Uruguayan initiative.

Reservations expressed by press and unofficially by some Govts seem prompted by question whether proposal may lend itself to abuse and consequent undermining of doctrine of non-intervention. The FonMin emphasized in his press conference of Dec. 2, that doctrine of non-intervention can be reconciled with the proposal of his note. This is an essential point.

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In view of fact that intervention is popularly held to mean use of force and hence actual entry into the country involved, it is noteworthy that Uruguayan proposal avoided use of phrase collective “intervention”. Collective “action” was phrase used in Uruguayan note which avoids connotations associated with “intervention”. To critics of proposal who will probably continue to speak of intervention, the obvious reply is that machinery for collective action must include both procedural and substantive safeguards against abuse. Safeguards might be expressed in such provisions as (1) that consultation may be initiated only upon request of three or more Govts; (2) that affirmative vote of a specified proportion of Govts would be required to authorize joint action; and (3) that decision on types of permissible joint action would have to be made in light of UNO Charter47 and Act of Chapultepec48 (that is they would probably not include extreme measures necessary to deal with an attack or actual threat of aggression). Such provisions, or others that may be agreed upon, coupled with inter-American procedure full consultation, would safeguard real objectives of established doctrine non-intervention.

Many types of permissible joint action are possible. It does not follow from approval of proposition that violation of elementary human rights by Govt of force is matter of common concern, that armed force should be employed to deal with such a matter. New York Times and other papers have hailed proposal as great advance international relations but throw discussion out of perspective by asking “whose armed forces would be employed to put down a Govt of force found to be violating elementary human and civil rights?” Implication is that since US has strongest military establishment our forces would be used and we would be exposed to charge of intervention even though we acted pursuant to joint decision.

Such discussion of extreme forms of possible sanctions overlooks entirely that a great advance will have been accomplished if American states recognize that violation of human rights by a Govt of force is a matter of common concern which may properly be subject of consultation among Govts. Today it is held that even discussion by the American republics of such violation of human rights constitutes intervention even though it is acknowledged that there is a parallelism between democracy and peace. If this interpretation of doctrine of non-intervention were to prevail against Uruguayan proposal, it would mean that inter-American system lacks the powder to discuss all questions relating to maintenance of peace. The inter-American [Page 206] system would then lack a power comparable to that granted to General Assembly by Article 11 of UNO Charter. It is hard to believe that the American republics would support such a point of view at a time when they are seeking to strengthen basic structure of inter-American system.

Uruguayan initiative would at least permit joint inter-American denunciation of activities of a totalitarian regime and would thus constitute a milestone on road to realization of objectives of individual freedom and dignity for which war was fought. Mere statement of Uruguayan proposal has already intensified spotlight of hemisphere public opinion on activities of Farrell regime. Effectiveness of that spotlight will be increased if technical objection of intervention no longer operates to confuse issue or to prevent full discussion of merits of charges directed against a totalitarian regime. Because we may not be prepared to recommend economic or military sanctions to deal with such a problem, we should not be deterred from use of techniques of discussion and analysis of facts which may go far successfully to combat evil with which we are concerned. This is essence of “town meeting” concept of General Assembly which has so frequently been stressed by US Senate.

Please inform FonMin that we would appreciate his views on these thoughts.

  1. Repeated to diplomatic representatives in the other American Republics for information only.
  2. June 26, 1945, Department of State Treaty Series No. 993; 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031.
  3. March 8, 1945, Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) 1543; 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1831.