IO Files: USGA/Gen/71

Briefing Book Paper2


8 (a) Memorandum on United States Participation in Administration of Trust Territories

the problem

Should the United States participate in the trusteeship administering authority of any trust territories other than in the Pacific, Korea and the Italian colonies?


American interest in dependent areas has traditionally been based on a broad humanitarian concern for the welfare of the inhabitants of [Page 545] these areas and a desire not to see these areas exploited for the benefit of a single power through restrictive trade practices. Public opinion in the United States, on the other hand, has consistently opposed taking on specific responsibilities in dependent areas where the interests of the United States are general and not specific.

In the case of the Japanese islands, considerations of security are so overwhelming that the United States will find it necessary to become the sole administering authority, at least for the majority of the islands.

In the case of Korea, an agreement for a four power trusteeship was reached with the Soviet Union before the trusteeship system of the United Nations had been established and, therefore, the possibility of the Organization itself being the administering authority could not be considered at that time.3

In the case of the Italian colonies, the United States has already proposed in the Council of Foreign Ministers that they be placed under the trusteeship system, with the Organization itself as the administering authority.4 The United States would participate through its membership in the General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council, and through a representative on the Advisory Committee which, it is proposed, shall advise the Chief Administrator of each of these territories.

In the case of the mandated territories,5 the prior historical claims of the mandatory powers will lead, it is assumed, to their being designated as administering authorities in the same territories over which they formerly had control.

If any other territories, however, should be considered for trusteeship or if some other disposition is desired for the territories mentioned above, the traditional interests of the United States would best be expressed by having the Organization itself as the administering authority. Administration by a single power or by two or more powers would not be so satisfactory because of the conflict between different national objectives inherent in such situations.

It should be noted that the United States will continue to have a special position with respect to all trust territories which were detached [Page 546] from enemy states in this war or were formerly under mandate status. As one of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in the first World War6 and as a signatory of the peace treaties which will follow the second World War, the United States will be one of the states directly concerned in the negotiation of the trusteeship agreements for these territories and as such will have the right to agree to the alteration or amendment of the agreements, in accordance with Article 79 of the Charter.

proposed united states position

If the probability should arise of the United States participating in the administration of any territories other than those in the Pacific, Korea and the Italian colonies, the United States should take the position that it would be preferable to have the Organization as administering authority rather than one or more powers.

It should be emphasized in the General Assembly if necessary that a trusteeship agreement including the designation of the administering authority will have to be made by the states directly concerned before any agreement can be submitted to the General Assembly for approval.

  1. The master files of the Reference and Documents Section of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State.
  2. This was one of eight papers prepared in the Division of Dependent Areas Affairs, Office of Special Political Affairs, Department of State, on trusteeship matters for the use of the U.S. Delegation to the first session of the General Assembly of the United Nations scheduled to meet in London on January 10; for other papers in this series, see infra. These papers are found in Briefing Book II of three briefing books carried to London by the U.S. Delegation; these briefing books are found in the IO Files. For general documentation relating to the Department of State preparation for the General Assembly session and the work of the U.S. Delegation in London relating to general policies of the United States, see pp. 51 ff.
  3. For documentation concerning this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, pp. 1018 ff., and ibid., 1946, vol. viii, pp. 605 ff.
  4. For documentation on this subject, see ibid., 1945, vol. ii, pp. 99559, passim, and ibid., 1946, vol. iv, pp. 1 ff.
  5. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, approved by the Paris Peace Conference on April 28, 1919 and incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles which was signed June 28, 1919, provided for the mandates system under the general supervision of the League. For an annotated text of Article 22 with appropriate references to all international acts relating to the mandates system from its inception until 1941, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 94 ff.
  6. The United States concluded treaties or conventions with the appropriate Mandatory Power over a period of years defining the rights of U.S. nationals in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Palestine, East Africa (Tanganyika), the Cameroons, Togoland, Ruanda-Urundi, and the former German islands north of the Equator; see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 101 ff. U.S. rights defined in these instruments were equivalent to those possessed by members of the League of Nations.