IO Files: US/A/M (Chr.)/1

Minutes of the First Meeting of the United States Delegation, Held at New York, Hotel Pennsylvania, October 17, 1946, 11 a.m.


[Here follows list of names of persons (15) present.]68

Nature of Delegation Minutes

Senator Austin, in opening the meeting, asked regarding the arrangements for a record of the Delegation meetings. He explained [Page 43] that he did not want the meetings bound by the restrictions which would arise from a stenographic report. It was important that the Delegates have complete freedom of speech remaining free to change their positions as new facts arose from free discussion. The other members of the Delegation agreed that there should be no stenographic report made, but that an officer of the Delegation, in this case Mr. Power, should be designated to prepare minutes.69

[Here follows a statement by Senator Austin to the effect that the basic nature of the Delegation’s task was to show the world “that the United States believed in the ‘United Nations’ Charter”. At the conclusion of the statement Senator Austin returned to a discussion of the Delegation’s working procedures by observing “that he did not want to be arbitrary in his work with the Delegation, that all delegates should feel free to comment on any statements or positions he might take.”]

Composition of Delegation’s Committees

Senator Austin explained that great thought had been given to the appointment of delegates to work on particular committees, but that the door was not closed to changes. He urged any delegate who had a strong feeling that he should not serve on a particular committee, or that he should be named to another committee, should raise his voice, if he had a strong, abiding feeling on the subject. Senator Austin then read the following proposed list of committee assignments:

Committee 1 Political and Security Senator Connally
Committee 2 Economic and Financial Senator Vandenberg,70
Mrs. Douglas
Committee 3 Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Mrs. Roosevelt
Committee 4 Trusteeship Mr. Bloom,
Mr. Dulles
Committee 5 Budgetary Senator Vandenberg,
Mr. Bloom,
Mr. Eaton
Committee 6 Legal Mr. Fahy71
Headquarters Committee Senator Austin,
Mr. Stevenson,
Mr. Fahy71
General Committee Senator Austin

The above assignments were unanimously approved as a tentative list with the understanding that the absent members of the Delegation [Page 44] should be consulted on their committee assignments when they arrived.

[Here follows discussion of the problem of selecting the permanent site for the seat of the United Nations.]

Nature of Documentation and Delegation Instructions

Mr. Sandifer explained the nature of the position papers which had been circulated.72 He paid tribute to Miss Fosdick, who had been particularly responsible for the excellent preparatory work. The papers set forth the generally agreed position of the Department of State but were not necessarily the final position of the United States Government. They were, in brief, expert evidence, that is, recommendations to the Delegation which might have different conceptions and the position might be changed as circumstances demanded. In some cases, changes might have to be referred to Washington.

Senator Austin pointed out that the Statute providing for United States’ participation in the United Nations protected the authority of the Chief Executive in matters of foreign relations. Therefore, any major change in the position of the United States should go to the President actually or nominally, that is, to the Department of State. He emphasized that the exclusive control of foreign policy lay with the Chief Executive.

Mr. Sandifer explained that the vital points had been approved by the President in the sense that they had been cleared with his representatives.

Mr. Bloom stated that his concept was that the Delegation Committees should report to the entire Delegation, at which time it should vote. In case there were serious disagreement among the Delegates, the matter would be referred to the President. He recalled that such a procedure at San Francisco had been highly satisfactory. Of course, he said the President would be informed of the differing views of the Delegates if need arose.

Mrs. Roosevelt observed that in actual practice there were times when matters might come up in a Committee and a Delegate would have to decide how to vote. Although a daily morning Delegation meeting might decide how a vote should be cast, and a Delegate would vote as closely as possible to the instructions, yet an unexpected vote might be taken in a Committee on a point for which a delegate lacked instruction. Then the Delegation might decide that it could not support the delegate’s vote. She inquired what redress there might be for this contingency. If something new came up suddenly, in a Committee, [Page 45] the Delegate must be trusted to take a stand in accordance with the recommendations in the current Delegation discussion which would provide the background.

Mr. Bloom remarked that the Delegation generally knew what was coming up each day. Each Delegate would receive his instructions on voting and if anything new came up, he could consult his experts who would be with him. Mrs. Roosevelt said that she was wondering whether the Delegation was to follow the Russian policy of not voting if a vote could possibly be avoided. Mr. Ross remarked that it was always possible to reserve the position of the United States if a Delegate was not free to vote. Mr. Sandifer remarked that it was, of course, clear that the President had selected Delegates in whom he had confidence.

Senator Austin pointed out that the Delegates were statutory officers. The United Nations Participation Act stated that the representatives of the United States in the General Assembly and the Security Council should cast votes directed by the President. If there developed within the Delegation a conflict with a Presidential policy as outlined in the papers presented to the Delegation, Senator Austin said he would have to inquire what the President’s position was. He said he could not cast an independent vote nor could the Delegation have an independent position. All were subject to the authority of the constitutional officer, the President, who had charge of foreign policy.

Mr. Sandifer explained the functions of the Advisers to the Delegation, and emphasized the need for security for the documents which had been presented to the Delegates.73

Press Policy

Mr. Bloom inquired what the Committee security arrangements were, inasmuch as he had read in the morning Times74 the Committee assignments which had just been read to the Delegation by Senator Austin. He wanted to know who had released the story and whether it could be expected that everything which had been said in the morning Delegation meeting was to appear in the press. Mr. Foote75 explained that the Times had run a speculation story, assuming the same [Page 46] committee assignments which had been in effect in London. No list had been released to the newspapers. Mr. Bloom suggested that if any news were to be given out, one member of the Delegation should be designated to handle the press.

At Senator Austin’s request, Mr. Foote briefly reviewed the press policy of the United Nations, the United States Delegations in London, Paris and the permanent delegation in New York. He recalled that, largely at the instigation of the United States, the London Assembly meeting had adopted a set of principles regarding freedom of information. These principles had opened with the statement that the United Nations “cannot achieve its purposes unless the peoples of the world are fully informed of its activities.” Mr. Foote pointed out that the Permanent Delegation had maintained an open press policy in order to secure the widest understanding and support of the Delegation positions. Full background briefing conferences had been held with accredited correspondents, and he recalled that no violations had ever resulted from these conferences, but on the contrary they had contributed greatly to obtaining sympathetic treatment in the press. It was not a matter of influencing the press but explaining the reasons which lay behind the facts and actions.

The Press officers, Mr. Foote explained, did not want to stand in the way of access of correspondents to the delegates. However, talks with the press should be arranged through the press office, whenever possible, or at least the press office should be informed, in order that statements to the press might not be at cross purposes. He pointed out that formal press conferences were not particularly needed, inasmuch as the General Assembly meetings were open. Occasionally, however, the Delegation might want to make statements in a press conference. Mr. Foote urged the extreme usefulness of background conferences on committee work, and said that he would like to be free to call on delegates for such conferences. He noted that the permanent representatives had adopted what he considered to be a wise policy of not giving exclusive statements to correspondents. The press office, he said, would be greatly aided if, when an important statement of policy is to be made, an advance press release could be prepared.76

Speeches by delegates outside of the General Assembly should be arranged through the press office, which could handle any necessary [Page 47] clearance, so that there could be full assurance that the policy of the Delegation was correctly represented in the speeches.

Mr. Foote reported that Mr. Russell and Mr. Williams were making arrangements with various private organizations for speeches and background conferences by the delegates and advisers.

Mr. Bloom stated that his thought was that following secret Delegation sessions no one but the chairman or press officer should give out public statements. Moreover, as many Delegates as possible should be present, in order to demonstrate harmony within the Delegation. He expected that only confusion would result if each delegate were to go out and make his own statement.

Mr. Foote asked if he would be free to give out the list of Committee assignments. Senator Austin replied that he had no objection, since the purpose of secrecy for the Delegation meeting was to protect freedom of consultation among the delegates.

[Here follow further discussion of press policy and brief remarks on another subject. Mr. Richard S. Winslow, Acting Secretary General of the Permanent United States Delegation to the United Nations, then “briefly explained the internal arrangements and functionings of the permanent staff of the Delegation and offered the services of himself and his staff for the convenience and operation of the Delegation.” Senator Austin then made a concluding statement.]

[The functioning of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, its internal procedures, liaison with the Department, and relations with other delegations, is revealed in the chapters that follow, documenting as they do in whole or in part the thrust of United States diplomacy at the second part of the first session of the General Assembly on those issues in which the United States was involved in major foreign policy decisions. Reference also should be made to the documentation on the question of relations with Franco Spain under “Spain” in volume V. The Secretary of State was preoccupied with the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers which was being held in New York at this same time; liaison between Mr. Byrnes and the Delegation and his role in the Delegation’s diplomatic effort may best be deduced from the documentation on elections to the United Nations organs, the problem of voting in the Security Council, trusteeship, and regulation of armaments, all in this volume. Attention is invited to the immediately following telegram, which throws some light on the subject of relationships between the Delegation and the delegations of the other American Republics.]

  1. Secretary Byrnes and Senators Connally and Vandenberg were still at Paris.
  2. These minutes are found in the IO files, series US/A/M (Chr.)/1–32. Extracts from these minutes are printed as appropriate in the documentation of the chapters that follow in this volume.
  3. In the final organization Mr. Stevenson replaced Senator Vandenberg on the Second Committee.
  4. Mr. Fahy served as Senior Adviser.
  5. Mr. Fahy served as Senior Adviser.
  6. This refers to the documentation described in footnote 61, p. 37.
  7. Note may be made here of the documentation created by the Delegation itself, consisting of memoranda of conversations with representatives and staff members of other national Delegations, working papers drafted on a day to day basis, and formal position papers reflecting the consensus of the Delegation after Delegation discussion. The memoranda of conversations are found in the IO files, US/A/1 ff. series; the working and position papers are organized on a committee basis (as in the case of the parallel State Department “SD” series) and are found in the IO files, US/A/Committees 1[–6] series.
  8. i.e., The New York Times.
  9. Wilder Foote, Chief of the Office of Public Information in the Permanent United States Delegation to the United Nations.
  10. Between the time of this meeting and the opening of the General Assembly on October 23, Senator Austin returned to Washington to hold last minute policy conferences with Under Secretary Acheson and the Counselor of the Department (Cohen) on Friday evening, October 18, and with President Truman on Saturday morning, October 19.