The British Embassy to the Department of State
Ref: 419/ /46
His Majesty’s Government have carefully considered the comments of the United States Government on the draft terms of Trusteeship for Tanganyika, and the Cameroons and Togoland under British Mandate, which were conveyed in the Acting Secretary of State’s note and attached memorandum of May 7th.
- The present position regarding trusteeship agreements for the United
Kingdom mandated territories in Africa is as follows:
- In January drafts were sent for concurrence to States which His Majesty’s Government have recognized as in any event “directly concerned” (i.e. Belgium in the case of Tanganyika, France in the case of British Togoland and the British Cameroons, and the Union of South Africa in respect of all three). Simultaneously drafts were also sent to all other members of the “Big Five” and to other British Commonwealth Governments members of the United Nations for information.
- The Belgian Government have already concurred in the Tanganyika draft and the South African Government in all three.
- No reply has yet been received from the French Government and no comments from the Soviet and Chinese Governments.
- For local reasons in East Africa it is desirable to publish at least the Tanganyika agreement as soon as possible, preferably before the end of May, 1946.
- As regards the form of publication, the Prime Minister originally announced to Parliament that the drafts would be published as soon as His Majesty’s Government had received the concurrence of the States directly concerned.
- It is against this background and in relation to the future timetable [Page 591] that His Majesty’s Government have to consider the United States suggestions contained in Mr. Acheson’s letter of May 7th. His Majesty’s Government much appreciate the fact that the United States Government, although not pressing to be recognized as a “state directly concerned”, have put their points to His Majesty’s Government in this way instead of bringing them up at the General Assembly without the opportunity of previous discussion. His Majesty’s Government wish to assure the United States Government that they are giving their detailed comments the most careful consideration. The United States Government will, however, appreciate that if His Majesty’s Government decided to modify their draft in the light of the United States Government’s suggestions this would now necessitate a second reference to the States hitherto recognized as directly concerned in order to obtain their concurrence in the alterations, which might not be altogether easy especially as the United States are not themselves claiming to be recognized as a State directly concerned. His Majesty’s Government would also wish to consult other British Commonwealth members of the United Nations as well as the Union of South Africa, particularly Australia and New Zealand, on account of possible repercussions on future terms of trusteeship for their mandated territories.
- Between now and September it will be necessary to work to a close timetable if the terms of trusteeship are to be ready in time for submission to the General Assembly. Parliament was told on January 23rd that as soon as the drafts had been agreed upon by the States regarded as being in any event directly concerned their terms would be communicated to Parliament and to the local Legislative Councils (Hansard House of Commons January 23rd Column 151). There are already indications that Parliament and at any rate the Tanganyika Legislative Council may wish for a debate. Debates in the Legislative Councils must obviously come first so that in any Parliamentary debate the reaction of the inhabitants of the territories may be known. This means in practice that any local debates must take place during June so that the matter may be raised in Parliament, if desired, before the summer recess. Otherwise it will be too late for the General Assembly. Consequently His Majesty’s Government must arrange simultaneous publication in the United Kingdom and in territories concerned without delay. The only reason why publication has been deferred so long already is that His Majesty’s Government had hoped first to secure the agreement of all States whom they had recognized as being in any event States directly concerned. The proposed terms have been drawn up in confidential consultation with the governments of the territories concerned but the delay in making them available to the public is [Page 592] already causing inconvenience, especially as it is known that they were communicated in January to the South African and various other governments, and further delay would cause acute embarrassment. In reply to a question in Parliament on May 15th enquiring what consultations are being held to ascertain the wishes of the local populations the Colonial Secretary stated inter alia that he hoped that publication of the proposed terms of trusteeship would be possible shortly.
- From the foregoing it will be seen that adoption of the State Department’s proposal would involve a radical alteration of the timetable. The consequent delay (pending Anglo-American discussions) would not only cause His Majesty’s Government domestic embarrassment but might indeed prejudice the possibility of bringing the trusteeship agreements before the next General Assembly for approval which, according to Mr. Acheson’s note is the object of the proposed discussions. In all the circumstances His Majesty’s Government consider that it would not be practicable to defer publication in order to make textual amendments. The Foreign Office feel that the State Department will appreciate the importance His Majesty’s Government attach to complying with the proper processes of democratic consultation both in the United Kingdom and in the territories concerned.
- Nevertheless, His Majesty’s Government are anxious to collaborate with the United States Government in this matter as fully as circumstances permit. They consider that early discussions with United States officials will be desirable and would be glad that they should take place in London. For the reasons given above, however, the timetable unfortunately precludes deferring publication until these discussions have taken place. Naturally, the drafts as published will not necessarily be final since the General Assembly might make its approval conditional upon amendments proposed by any member State. Although the terms of trusteeship must be agreed to by the existing mandatory power (Article 79 of the Charter) there is nothing to preclude His Majesty’s Government accepting amendments after publication of the original draft either at the General Assembly stage or earlier if His Majesty’s Government (and the other States directly concerned) consider them satisfactory. His Majesty’s Government could profitably consider with the United States Government and possibly other Governments between now and September which, if any, of the United States amendments they would be prepared to accept and, if the other States directly concerned also agree, these amendments could perhaps be incorporated before formal submission of the texts of the United Nations.