The Acting Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Halifax)


Excellency: I have the honor to refer further to your communication of February 4, 1946 (No. 71; Ref. 419/19/46) in which His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom transmitted to this Government drafts of the terms under which the United Kingdom proposes to place the mandated territories of Tanganyika, Cameroons and Togoland under the trusteeship system of the United Nations in accordance with Article 77 of the Charter.

The Government of the United States appreciates the initiative which has been taken by the Government of the United Kingdom with a view to the early establishment of the trusteeship system as contemplated in the Charter. This Government notes that the draft terms [Page 578] of trusteeship have been transmitted to the United States Government “for their information” and “without prejudice to the interpretation to be eventually adopted of the phrase ‘states directly concerned’ in Article 79 of the Charter”.

This Government has carefully examined the draft terms of trusteeship proposed by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and takes this opportunity to transmit certain comments on these draft agreements which are outlined in the attachment appended hereto.48 These comments pertain largely to changes which it is believed experience has shown to be desirable since the original mandate charters were adopted a quarter of a century ago. We hope that these suggested changes and additions may find ready acceptance by the Government of the United Kingdom since in many cases the proposed changes or additions are in effect a codification of practices already adopted by His Majesty’s Government. Moreover, it is believed that these terms as broadened might serve as a useful guide when the terms of trusteeship for other territories are being drawn up.

In transmitting these comments, the United States Government does so without reference to the determination of the phrase “states directly concerned”. The position of the United States in this respect remains what it has been for the past twenty-five years, namely, that it has special and specific rights under the Treaty of Versailles and as a party to certain bilateral treaties, including treaties with the United Kingdom concerning the mandated territories. The United States believes that by virtue of this position it is entitled to be one of the “states directly concerned” in all mandated territories.

However, it is the view of this Government that in the interest of speeding up conclusion of trusteeship agreements it would be desirable to limit the number of negotiating states to a minimum, and in line with this principle it is felt that the most desirable procedure would be that the present mandatory powers should propose draft terms of trusteeship and that other particularly interested powers should be consulted in regard to these terms before they are actually submitted to the General Assembly for approval.

This procedure is proposed on the condition that the other interested powers agree to the principle of consultation as described above without pressing claims to be signatories to the terms of trusteeship for the African territories in question.

This Government further believes that a useful purpose might be served if informal discussions could take place very soon with His Majesty’s Government in order to explore these and other aspects of this subject. This would also afford an opportunity to consult together in regard to the draft terms of trusteeship. Such discussions might [Page 579] take place either in London or, if desired, in Washington, and would, we believe, expedite matters so that a number of draft trusteeship agreements could be submitted to the General Assembly in September, thus enabling the Trusteeship Council to be constituted at that time. It is our intention also to ascertain the views of the French Government on the question of the most effective procedure for concluding the agreements.49

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Dean Acheson
  1. Printed as a separate memorandum, infra.
  2. The same note, mutatis mutandis, was transmitted to the Belgian Ambassador (Silvercruys) on May 14 (880.014/2–346). A note to the French Ambassador (Bonnet) on May 13 described the approach made by the British and Belgian Governments, set forth the position of this Government in general terms, and without referring directly to the fact that no draft terms had been submitted to this Government by the French Government proposed “informal discussions … very soon” either in Paris or Washington (862P.01/5–1346). The essential information regarding these notes was forwarded to the Ambassador in France (Caffery) in telegram 2360, May 15, 8 p.m., the Department indicating that it “would welcome any information you can obtain informally re French plans for negotiating trusteeship agreements for Togoland and Cameroons (urtel 605 Feb 7) [not printed] and French views on states directly concerned.” (862P.01/2–746) In telegram 3829, May 8, 5 p.m., to London, Ambassador Harriman was informed of the May 7 note to Lord Halifax and was requested to “inquire whether other Governments to which British sent draft agreements either as states directly concerned or for information have yet replied and, if so, what position they have taken re states directly concerned and draft terms of trusteeship.” (862P.01/4–2946) The same telegram, mutatis mutandis, was sent to Brussels on May 15 (telegram 515, File No. 862.01/5–946).