IO Files: USGA/Ia/Del. Min./1 (Chr)

Minutes of the First Meeting of the United States Delegation,1 on Board the Queen Elizabeth, January 2, 1946, 11 a.m.


[Here follows list of names of persons (34) present.]

Mr. Stettinius called the meeting to order at 11:01 a.m. The Chairman stressed the importance of the Delegation’s task of bringing the United Nations into operation and expressed the joint determination to do the job quickly and well. He recalled that at the close of the San Francisco Conference a Preparatory Commission had been established as an interim organization pending the coming into force of the Charter. Following a single meeting of the Preparatory Commission at San Francisco, it had adjourned leaving the task in the hands of a fourteen-member Executive Committee which met in London. The Executive Committee had completed its work on November 12, 1945. The Preparatory Commission met on November 23 and in a five-week session had approved most of the recommendations of the Executive Committee.2

The Chairman pointed out that under the recommendations of the Executive Committee and the Preparatory Commission the first part of the first session of the General Assembly was to be a constituent meeting. It was proposed by the Preparatory Commission that there [Page 118] should be a second part of the first session for substantive problems. The Chairman expressed the hope that the second session would be able to open on April 25 at the new site of the Organization.

In answer to a question from Mr. Dulles as to what compelling force there was to restrict the first session to procedural matters, Mr. Hiss pointed to the resolution of the Executive Committee (PC/EX/113/Rev.1, p. 17), which resolution had been adopted by the Preparatory Commission, recommending that the first part should be primarily organizational but would also include consideration of such other world problems as might be raised by any member. The Chairman interposed that it had been emphasized in London that any member could bring up any subject before the Assembly and asserted that the Delegation must go to London expecting to have raised such questions as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, relief, and transportation. Mr. Dulles pointed out that under the rules of procedure any member could have any subject placed on the agenda six days before the General Assembly convenes. Mr. Hiss pointed out that the Preparatory Commission had added the refugee question to the list of questions to be discussed. In answer to a question from Mr. Bloom, Mr. Hiss stated that it was the evident intention to discuss the whole problem of displaced persons under the heading of refugees. Mr. Bloom inquired whether it was not possible under the rules of procedure for the presiding officer to recognize any member on any subject. Mr. Hiss thought this was not the correct interpretation and that the rule referred to meant that any member could speak on any item on the agenda. He pointed out the rule under which an item could be added to the agenda by a majority vote of members present and voting.

Mr. Stettinius reported that he had received a wire from the Secretary of State early in the morning confirming Mr. Byrnes’ intention of flying to London, where he would meet with the Delegation. Mr. Hiss expressed the hope that the meeting of the General Assembly would not be a long, drawn-out affair. The British were very hard-pressed for space and were likewise hoping that the meeting would not be a long one. The Chairman expressed his personal hope that the meeting could be concluded in three weeks.

[Here follows discussion regarding certain Delegation assignments and procedures.]

Mr. Stettinius regretted that Mr. Pasvolsky’s illness prevented him from speaking and expressed the hope that the Delegation would hear from Mr. Pasvolsky a full review of the history of the United Nations Organization to the present date.

Mr. Stettinius then called on Mr. Hiss to give an explanation of the agenda of the General Assembly. Mr. Hiss explained the provisional agenda for the first part of the first session of the General Assembly [Page 119] as set forth in the Executive Committee Report, pointing out such minor changes as had been made by the Preparatory Commission.3

Regarding the election of the President4 of the General Assembly, Mr. Hiss stated that the Department felt that the members would want a European President since the site of the Organization was to be in the United States. Accordingly, the United States had not taken a strong position on the matter. The United States favored as President Mr. Lie5 of Norway because he was personally a very fine man with a good command of both French and English, and Norway was a fighting United Nation which probably would not be elected a member of the Security Council. Mr. Hiss reported that there had recently been a strong feeling in London for Mr. Evatt6 as President. Latin American members had been reported to be particularly favorably inclined toward him. The view of the Department had been that Mr. Evatt would be a good candidate and that his candidacy should not be opposed. Senator Vandenberg stated that Dr. Evatt should be elected President because for the world he was the spokesman of the small powers, and Senator Vandenberg thought it was important that Mr. Evatt be elected as an indication that the small powers were receiving full recognition.

In answer to a question from Senator Connally regarding the membership of Australia on the Security Council, Mr. Hiss stated that the Department felt that Australia should not be on the Security Council but that Canada should be a member, especially because of its position on the Atomic Energy Commission, and that there should be only one member from the British Commonwealth on the Security Council.

Mr. Hiss explained that the Department still felt that it was only proper that the Organization should want a European since it was to be located in the United States and that, therefore, the Department should not take a strong stand for the candidacy of Mr. Evatt, lest it appear to rub in the non-European character of the Organization. Mr. Dulles questioned whether the choice should be made on the basis of European nationality or whether it might not be better to state simply that the President should be someone other than from one of the Americas. Mr. Stettinius reported to the Delegates that the United States had taken the position in London that it was expected that the President would be a European. Mr. Bloom questioned whether the [Page 120] President was being elected simply for the first part of the first session of the Assembly or whether he was also to preside over the second session. Mr. Hiss said that it was the understanding of the United States that the President elected was to serve for both parts of the first session of the General Assembly. Mr. Stettinius stated the firm conviction that it was better to have a set of officers in both parts of the first session. Mrs. Roosevelt expressed agreement, and stated that she thought it better that the officers should serve for both parts.

Regarding the adoption of the provisional rules of procedure and the supplementary rules of procedure,7 Mr. Hiss pointed out that the rules were entirely provisional and that it was expected that permanent rules would be drawn up for the two parts of the first session. Mr. Hiss referred to a suggestion from Mr. Bloom that there should be a select committee of parliamentary experts to advise the Secretary General. This committee could undertake the task of working out an effective compromise between the parliamentary procedures of such states as the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.

Regarding the election of Vice President, Mr. Hiss stated that the United States regarded the important elective posts in the United Nations Organization to be the President of the Assembly, the Secretary General, the members of the Security Council, the Social and Economic Council, and the Trusteeship Council. The seven Vice Presidencies offered additional negotiating positions. The United States did not as yet have any slate to recommend on the Vice Presidents, and the matter could be worked out in London.

Mr. Bloom asked to return to the election of the Presiding Officer, and emphasized that he thought it was important that it should be made clear whether the President was to serve for one or two parts of the meeting because of the possibility of a precedent being established for future meetings. Mr. Stettinius remarked that the whole spirit of the negotiations in London had been that the President should serve for both parts of the session.

Regarding the election of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, Mr. Hiss stated that the Department’s position was that there should be elected to the six available seats one Western European member, one British Commonwealth member, two Latin American members, one from the Near East and Africa, and one from Eastern Europe. Mr. Hiss continued that the preliminary negotiations on the slate had already been taken up in London and the United States position on the composition of the slates had been explained to certain states. It had been made very plain in London, and Mr. Hiss wished to [Page 121] emphasize the point, that the United States has drawn up slates which the Department thought on balance would be reasonable, but that for the most part the slates were not to be taken as inviolable and immutable. Since the Charter emphasized equitable geographic distribution of council membership, the Department had thought the states in the various areas should be consulted concerning their wishes and it was the general intention of the United States to support only a state which was supported by its neighbors. For instance, Egypt would be supported for the Security Council in the event that it was supported by the Arab League. In the event that the Arab League supported another Near Eastern power, the Department would have to reconsider its position. The United States needed to keep freedom of choice to be sure in the future that some entirely objectionable state was not put forward as a candidate which we would be committed to support under the geographical formula.

The United States slate for the Security Council consisted of Brazil for a two-year term, Mexico for a one-year term, Canada for a two-year term, the Netherlands for a two-year term, Poland for a one-year term, and Egypt for a two-year term.

Regarding the possibility of the admission of new members8 to the United Nations, Mr. Hiss stated that he doubted that any recommendations would be made on this question. The United States had taken the position that it was preferable to take up this question during the second part of the Assembly and there seemed to be no disposition to disagree strongly with this view. The United Kingdom had not continued to press the candidacy of Sweden. In this connection, Mr. Stettinius stated the United States had indicated a preference to admit the five or six nations if any members were to be admitted during the first meeting. Mr. Hiss indicated that Portugal has put forward a desire to join the United Nations; there was also the possibility of Iceland.

Regarding the election of the Secretary General, Mr. Hiss stated that the United States position had been that he should not be a national of one of the Big Five powers in order to avoid the appearance of Big Five domination. The United States had also assumed that since the site was to be in the United States the members would want a European. The Department had informally indicated that Mr. Spaak9 of Belgium would be a good choice, but it was possible that he would not be available since he was of Cabinet rank, a possible Prime Minister in Belgium, and would, as Secretary General, have to step out of politics for five years. Mr. Hiss stated that the Department had made it known that the United States would be delighted if Mr. Pearson10 [Page 122] of Canada were elected as Secretary General, but it was expected that his candidacy would be hampered by the desire to have a non-American as Secretary General. Mr. Dulles inquired whether it was proper that the Secretary General should be chosen on a national basis since the Secretariat was to be of an international character. Mr. Hiss explained the Department’s position had been that other things being equal it would be advisable to have a man from outside the Americas. Mrs. Roosevelt inquired what considerations had led to the support of Mr. Spaak. Mr. Hiss replied that perhaps the main consideration had been that Mr. Spaak was well-known and highly-regarded throughout Europe. He had been a leader in the Belgian Government-in-Exile, he was politically strong at home, he had excellent qualities of leadership, and was a man of high integrity. His chief short-coming was that he did not speak English. Mr. Bloom questioned whether a five-year term was too long in case the Secretary General was unsatisfactory and therefore could only be removed with great difficulty. Mr. Hiss pointed out that the question had been debated at great length, that some states had wanted an indefinite tenure, and others had wanted a tenure of ten years. It had been felt that in order to secure the best man it would be necessary to offer the Secretary General a five-year term. Mr. Stettinius reported that he had conducted the negotiations on this question in London during three or four long and difficult weeks which had included many discussions in his own rooms. After delicate negotiations, the Russians and French had been brought to agree to a five-year term of office. This was subject to the condition that the Secretary General could be invited to resign if he proved completely unsatisfactory.

Regarding the election of members of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Hiss pointed out that the eighteen members to be elected would have to be assigned terms of one, two, or three years in order to establish the annual elections for three-year terms in the future. The United States position assumed that the Big Five would be automatically members. However, in order that the situation should not arise in which three years after the first election all five members came up for reelection, allowing the election of only one other member at that time, it had been agreed that the five powers should be assigned varying terms of office in alphabetical order. Thus, the first three-year terms of the Big Five would go to China and France. The United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socalist Republics would be elected for two-year terms and the United States for a one-year term.

Regarding the rest of the slate, Mr. Hiss emphasized that it was very tentative, still subject to considerable negotiation. The United States position was that Denmark might be elected as a European member, Iraq from the Near East, and Greece from Eastern Europe, [Page 123] all for three years. There should be four posts for Latin American states. The Department was still waiting to hear what candidates the Latin American states had agreed upon. At the last report, Peru, Chile, and Colombia were generally agreed to and the fourth post seemed likely to be offered to Cuba or Uruguay. The Latin American states were to hold a meeting on January 3, after which news might be available. The United States slate, based on a geographical distribution, had included Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, and Peru. Now it appeared that Mexico would not be a candidate since it preferred to be a candidate for the Security Council. Mr. Hiss said that the whole question would have to be negotiated again in London. The United States slate proposed two-years terms for the Ukraine, Canada, and Belgium, and one-year terms for Australia, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey.

Mr. Hiss pointed out that the Delegation would be particularly interested in the General Assembly committee report which would be made upon the provisional budgetary, financial, and organizational needs for assessing and collecting contributions from members. Mr. Hiss pointed out that the Preparatory Commission had proposed in addition to the Executive Committee report the setting up of an advisory group of experts for the Administrative and Budgetary Committee of the General Assembly. Generally speaking, the budgetary arrangements were to be left as fluid as possible until the second session of the General Assembly to allow for full study. It has been recommended that a capital fund be established to carry the expenses of the first year’s operations. Contributions to this were to be made on the basis of the Food and Agriculture Organization contribution quota under which the United States could pay a maximum of twenty-five percent of the total contributions. Mr. Hiss pointed out that some states wished the United States to pay a larger proportion but some states wished the United States to pay a smaller portion in order to avoid the appearance of dominating the Organization.11 Mr. Sandifer pointed out that it should be clear that the Food and Agriculture Organization basis should apply only to the capital fund; that it was not to be a continuating arrangement. It was pointed out that if any money were left in the capital fund after the first year of operations, that money would probably be used for a building fund. Senator Connally expressed the opinion that unless the United States took a strong position, the United States would be cheated and would be saddled with the entire cost. Mrs. Roosevelt stated that she understood the United Kingdom was paying for the forthcoming meeting, the expenses to be offset in the final accounting. She inquired whether the same held for the expenses of the United States in connection with the [Page 124] United Nations Organization. It was pointed out that the United Kingdom payment was to be offset against the general contributions, not against the United Kingdom contribution to the capital fund.

Mr. Hiss pointed out regarding the League of Nations dissolution, that the Preparatory Commission had made somewhat different recommendations from those of the Executive Committee. The non-political functions of the League, such as opium control, health and transport, were to be taken over by the United Nations on a provisional basis. All the buildings of the League of Nations were to be turned over to the United Nations and would probably be used for various groups and commissions. It was pointed out that there was also talk of having regional offices of the Economic and Social Council located at Geneva. The Chairman went on to state that the Russians felt very definitely that the United Nations should not move to Geneva as a temporary site and he thought it very important that there not be any mention of such a possibility. He thought that the Organization should move straight away to the United States to its new site as soon as the meeting adjourned. Mrs. Roosevelt agreed that this was highly desirable.

Regarding the organization of the Secretariat, the United States position was that the Secretary General should be allowed as much discretion as possible, that the General Assembly should merely lay down provisional guides and rules for the organization of the Secretariat, and definite rules should be adopted at the second session upon the recommendations of the Secretary General. Mr. Hiss stated that Mr. Bloom had previously made known to him his very strong feeling that the Secretary General should have complete freedom to choose the Under Secretary General and the Assistant Secretaries General, and Mr. Hiss stated that this was the clear intention of the recommendations. Although the General Assembly would hate to approve the Secretariat officers, the Secretary General would have a free hand in choosing them. Mrs. Roosevelt stated that she thought that the Secretariat was an extremely important part of the Organization and it seemed to her that there was a point to be watched very carefully in its organization, more especially with regard to those nations with long and old governmental procedures. She thought it very important that there should be a combination of age groups which would utilize the experience of older men but which might also bring in younger men. She thought that there might be a tendency to unload older personnel from various Foreign Offices who were not wanted by their home governments and who could be sent off to the United Nations as a sort of pension. Mrs. Roosevelt said that she had been pleased to notice the Executive Committee recommendation that there should be a suitable range of ages, but thought it was a point which could be [Page 125] easily overlooked, and should be kept in mind by those who are discussing organizational matters. Mr. Stettinius agreed that that was a very important point.

In discussing the report of the General Assembly Committee relating to trusteeship, Mr. Hiss pointed out that the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations would expire with that body. However, in answer to a question of Mr. Bloom Mr. Hiss emphasized that the limitations upon the authority of the mandatories did not end until Trusteeship agreements had been concluded. Mr. Hiss pointed out that the mandatory powers had agreed in the Charter that mandated territories were appropriate for trusteeship.12 Mr. Hiss believed that probably the General Assembly would recommend that agreements to place the mandated territories under trusteeship be negotiated before the second part of the General Assembly convened. Mr. Bloom pointed out that some machinery was necessary to carry on certain functions of the Mandates Commission and that there would have to be action on this on the part of the General Assembly. Mr. Bloom emphasized his feeling that this must be done because if the Mandate Commission ended and there were no one to handle mandated territories a very bad situation would result.

Mr. Hiss reported, regarding the site of the headquarters, that the United States position was that the question of preferences [privileges] and immunities and status to be accorded the permanent site was a question which should be dealt with in the second part of the first session, because negotiations on those questions would have to be carried out with the appropriate American federal, state, and local authorities.13 Mr. Hiss reported that the general feeling seemed to be that the Organization should be free from taxation on its land and should receive inviolability for its land and buildings. However, public services should be handled by contract and highway police, et cetera, supplied by the state. He reported that some members of Congress had recommended that there be established an international enclave for the permanent headquarters. Senator Connally interjected that the United States could not do this because it would be unconstitutional.

Mr. Stettinius stated that there would be distributed to the members of the Delegation a protest from Mayor Lapham. (Doc, USGA/Ia/4)14 He stated that he expected Australia and China to be active in reopening discussion on the motion that the headquarters must be in the Eastern United States. Mr. Bloom stated that he thought it was [Page 126] unfair that one-half of the United States should be foreclosed from consideration and he felt that San Francisco should not be cut off. Mr. Stettinius said that he was sure that the question would be reopened, pointing out that when the vote was taken there were eleven members absent, and ten abstained from voting. Mr. Stettinius pointed out that it was important that a site should be chosen which would offer office and hotel facilities for several hundred people who would have to get right to work after the first session adjourned.

Regarding the nomination of judges for the Court of Justice, Mr. Hiss reported that the United States has not attempted a selection among the nominees since nominations do not close until January 10.

It was agreed that the Delegation should not schedule further formal meetings for the moment but should meet informally each morning at 11 a.m. with Mr. Hiss and Mr. Pasvolsky to discuss such questions as the Delegates might have.

  1. Regarding the organization and composition of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, see pp. 1 ff.
  2. For the Charter of the United Nations, signed at San Francisco, June 26, 1945, see 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031, or Department of State Treaty Series 993. For the agreement regarding Interim Arrangements, which set up the Preparatory Commission, signed at San Francisco, June 26, 1945, see 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1411, or Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 461. For the reports of the Preparatory Commission and its Executive Committee, see Preparatory Commission of the United Nations, Report of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations and Report by the Executive Committee to the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations.
  3. The provisional agenda are printed in the Report by the Executive Committee, pp. 18 ff., and the Report of the Preparatory Commission, pp. 7 ff., respectively.
  4. For the Preparatory Commission background of this and other questions relating to slates, discussed by Mr. Hiss, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, pp. 14331509, passim; the basic document is a memorandum of the Secretary’s Staff Committee dated November 15, 1945 (SC–171/8), ibid., p. 1475.
  5. Trygve Lie, Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  6. Herbert V. Evatt, Australian Secretary of State for External Affairs.
  7. The provisional rules of procedure for the several United Nations organs drafted by the Executive Committee and the Preparatory Commission itself are found in the appropriate sections of the two reports.
  8. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 357 ff.
  9. Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  10. Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Ambassador to the United States.
  11. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 461 ff.
  12. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 544 ff.
  13. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 60 ff.
  14. Not printed. This is a reference to the extensive work done by many cities of the United States to persuade the United Nations to locate its permanent headquarters within their respective boundaries; Roger Lapham was Mayor of San Francisco.