IO Files: USTC/Prel/WP Min. 4

Minutes of Informal Meeting of the United States Group on Trusteeship, London, January 17, 1946, 5 p.m.

  • Presiding—Mr. Dulles
  • Mr. Bloom
  • Mr. Cohen
  • Mr. Pasvolsky
  • Mr. Hackworth
  • Mr. Collier
  • Mr. Hiss
  • Mr. Gerig
  • Mr. Bunche
  • Mr. Green
  • Mr. Crawford

[Mr. Dulles reported that he wanted to “run over briefly” some of the main points of his discussion with Mr. Gromyko20 the night before [Page 555] and Mr. Creech-Jones that afternoon. “Everybody had agreed, including Mr. Gromyko and Mr. Creech-Jones, that the General Assembly should have nothing to do with the rules of procedure of the Trusteeship Council since, under the Charter, the Council was authorized to adopt its own rules.” Mr. Pasvolsky then proposed “throwing out” the rules of procedure, and group discussion developed on this point.]

Mr. Dulles said that he would like to turn to the question of the “states directly concerned”. He understood that the Trusteeship Council could not be set up until there was a balance between the trustee powers and the non-trustee powers. At least three trustee powers were required before the Council could be created. You could not get any trusteeship agreements, however, until you had decided which were the “states directly concerned”.

He had discussed this question at considerable length with Mr. Gromyko, Mr. Dulles continued, and had explained the problem of getting an adequate number of trusteeship agreements to establish the Council. Mr. Gromyko had then asked Mr. Dulles about his views as to which were the “states directly concerned”. Mr. Dulles replied that the State Department view was that the United States, United Kingdom, and France were the states directly concerned in the mandated territories, since they were the residual Allied and Associated Powers under the Treaty of Versailles. The State Department did not consider that nations became automatically “states directly concerned” because of geographic propinquity to the trust territory. Mr. Gromyko had replied that he noticed that the Soviet Union was not mentioned in this group. It was the view of his Government that the Soviet Union was a state directly concerned in any trust territory. When Mr. Dulles had asked what was the basis of this view, Mr. Gromyko had replied that the Soviet Union considered itself as concerned in any major economic, political, or geographic question anywhere in the world. Mr. Dulles had then asked whether Mr. Gromyko would include China on the same basis. Mr. Gromyko had replied that he had no opinion on this matter but that he would imagine that China would put forth a similar claim.

Mr. Dulles then had said that he had no competence to discuss this matter officially but that he was merely anxious to explore the problem. He had then asked whether Mr. Gromyko thought that the problem should be discussed during the General Assembly. Mr. Gromyko had replied in the negative, saying that the problem should be handled through diplomatic channels. Mr. Gromyko had then said that if he could consider Mr. Dulles as making an official call he would ask his Government for authority to discuss the question formally [Page 556] with the American Government. Mr. Dulles had replied that he was not speaking officially but was merely discussing the question as a member of the American Delegation.

Mr. Dulles continued that he had discussed the same question with Mr. Creech-Jones. In reply to a question the latter had commented that the Colonial Office had submitted copies of its draft agreements for their African mandates to the five permanent members of the Security Council and to the neighboring states, that is, Belgium and South Africa.

Mr. Cohen asked what was the nature of this submission. Mr. Dulles replied that he had understood that the British were not submitting the agreements in any formal way or with any indication that these were the indispensable powers concerned in the agreements. He understood that they were merely transmitting the agreements informally in order to invite suggestions about them. Mr. Creech-Jones had indicated that the British had no clear view about the “states directly concerned” but had implied that he would accept Mr. Dulles’ view that geographic propinquity was not a necessary criterion, since it would automatically involve the Arab states in Palestine.

In the course of his talk with Mr. Creech-Jones, Mr. Dulles went on, he had got a general idea that it would be better not to try to get any abstract definition of the “states directly concerned”. It would be better to start discussions with those states obviously concerned in the hope that an agreement could be concluded for submission to the General Assembly. If the General Assembly found that some indispensable powers had been omitted it could reject the agreement. This action of the British would soon force a decision on this question, since the General Assembly could not very long avoid taking a position. He would need guidance on this question, Mr. Dulles went on, in case it came up in the near future. He had thrown out to Mr. Gromyko Mr. Cohen’s idea that the mandatory power might be considered the only state directly concerned. This suggestion seemed totally unacceptable to Mr. Gromyko, who had spoken about it in an extremely positive way.

Mr. Gerig said that he might continue this story by summarizing a memorandum of his conversation with Mr. Orts of the Belgian Delegation. It was clear that the British and the Belgians had been in consultation about this discussion. Mr. Orts had a draft agreement which he said was to be sent to the five great powers. Mr. Orts had said that while it might be better to send the agreement to the three great powers from which they had got their mandate, they intended to submit it also to the Soviet Union and China. The Belgians were somewhat [Page 557] hesitant to bring the Soviet Union and China into Central Africa but intended to go ahead nevertheless. Mr. Gerig had suggested to Mr. Orts that since the United Kingdom was on their list as a great power they would not need to receive a copy as a neighboring state. This would avoid setting any unfortunate precedent. Mr. Orts had said that he had not thought of this aspect of the question but that he would give it consideration.21

Mr. Bunche commented that he understood that the British were proposing to send their agreements to all of the Dominions as a purely domestic matter. They were sending them to the Union of South Africa, however, because of its special position in Africa.

Mr. Bloom asked why the Belgians and the British were sending their agreements to the Soviet Union. Mr. Gerig replied that they apparently regarded the Big Five as “states directly concerned”, although others might be added.

[At this point Mr. Cohen stated that “in his opinion the procedure followed by Britain and Belgium was the most appropriate way of starting the negotiations.” There followed a long discussion which revolved rather tenuously around the general problem of whether there should be immediate conversations to determine who were states directly concerned or whether to follow along with the British procedure of starting off on an informal and pragmatic basis; more concretely the discussion centered on the two questions of rights of the United States in the mandatory system and definition of the term “states directly concerned”. Insofar as there was registered any sense of the committee during and at the end of these deliberations it appeared to be that the group agreed with the Cohen view, repeatedly stated, that “… it was up to the state with administrative responsibilities to take the initative, after which the General Assembly could review the situation.”

Mr. Cohen argued at one time that “This battle was lost at San Francisco. At that time there was a conflict of interests. We had a special interest in the Pacific which we wanted to protect and, therefore, we had to agree with the British interpretation about other mandated territories. We could not, therefore, force our views upon the mandatory powers in favor of a United Nations trusteeship. Mr. Pasvolsky pointed out that this decision had been taken at Yalta because [Page 558] it was the only possible solution of the problem. It has been the American position and it was the only one acceptable to the British.”

At the end of the discussion, the group seemed to go along with a statement by Mr. Hiss that“… it would not prejudice the position of the United States to say that the definition of the ‘states directly concerned’ would have to be handled through diplomatic channels.”21a]

  1. Andrei A. Gromyko, Delegate of the Soviet Union to the General Assembly and sometime acting head of the Soviet Delegation in the absence of the Head of the Delegation (Vyshinsky).
  2. On January 18 the Belgian Representative to the General Assembly (Langenhove) declared to the General Assembly the intention of the Belgian Government to start negotiations immediately with a view to placing the Belgian mandated territory of Ruanda-Urundi under the United Nations trusteeship system; see GA(I/1), Plenary, p. 238.
  3. For the position taken by the United States subsequently in the Fourth Committee and then on the floor of the General Assembly on these issues, see U.S. Delegation Working Paper of January 22, p. 559.