The Secretary of the Navy (Forrestal) to the Secretary of State


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I acknowledge receipt of copies of four draft trusteeship agreements for the African territories of Togoland, [Page 566] British Cameroons, Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi40 which were forwarded with Mr. Acheson’s letter of March 29, 1946.41

I have no comment to make as to the substance of these agreements. However, a question will arise at the time they are presented for consideration in the General Assembly of the United Nations whether the United States should assert that it is a state directly concerned with respect to these territories. I believe that the United States has no real interest in these territories other than a general concern for the welfare of their inhabitants.

I further believe that any assertions by the United States of direct concern in these territories might well serve as a precedent for other nations voicing their direct concern with respect to trusteeship for Pacific islands in which we have a definite strategic interest. Inasmuch as it is the view of the Navy Department that the number of states directly concerned in Pacific islands trusteeships should be kept to a minimum, I am strongly of the opinion that it would be most unwise for the United States to assert that it is directly concerned in connection with these four African territories.42

Sincerely yours,

James Forrestal
  1. The Belgian Foreign Ministry had on January 30 transmitted to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels draft terms of agreement for the Belgian mandated territory of Ruanda-Urundi; it was requested in a covering note that this text be conveyed to the U.S. Government for its information. The draft of the proposed agreement was transmitted to the Department in Brussels despatch 1151, February 6, received February 13, neither printed. (501.BE/2–646)
  2. Not printed. Copies of the draft trusteeship agreements were forwarded also to the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Interior. The Acting Secretary informed the three Secretaries that “I should be pleased to receive at this time any comments which you may care to make concerning them.” (862P.01/3–2946)
  3. In a letter of April 10 the Secretary of War (Patterson) responded that “There appears to be no matter in these proposed agreements requiring comment from the military point of view.” He then went on to say: “However, I feel that the U.S. position concerning the submission to the U.S. Government of these draft agreements should be worked out with concern to the possible establishment of a precedent which we may later regard as unfortunate. If the U.S. Government were to acquiesce in regarding this country as a ‘state directly concerned’ under the United Nations Charter, in preliminary trusteeship moves with respect to such areas as Togoland, British Cameroons, Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi, a precedent might well be established which would make difficult our own application of a more restrictive definition for ‘directly concerned’ should it later prove desirable to do so in connection with trusteeship agreements applying to Pacific islands, or other areas in which our interests are particularly great.” (862P.01/4–1046)