IO Files: USGA/Ia/Del. Min./2 (Chr)

Minutes of the Meeting of the United States Delegation on Board the Queen Elizabeth, January 3, 1946, 11:30 a.m.


[Here follows list of names of persons (29) present.]

Senator Connally presided in the absence of Mr. Stettinius.

Mr. Pasvolsky explained the background of some of the decisions upon which the Charter is based; he outlined some of the more controversial questions in the discussions at the drafting stage and indicated the reasoning behind the decisions on those questions. He referred the meeting to the Chart in the front of Book I15 as a basis for his discussion.

Mr. Pasvolsky stated that the main structure of UNO was developed and agreed upon after reconciliation of differences in viewpoint. There was the basic question of whether an international organization should be responsible only for peace and security or should in addition deal with other problems including social and economic questions. The United States position had always been that the Organization should handle economic and social problems as well as security questions with a close inter-relationship among the parts of the Organization. This position was based upon the conviction that economic and social cooperation is an essential element of maintaining peace and [Page 127] that, at the same time, peace and security are essential bases for developing economic and social cooperation.

At Dumbarton Oaks16 there was a great deal of discussion over whether there should be one or two organizations. Whereas the United States and the British preferred a single entity, the Soviet Union wanted two organizations. The Soviet Union took the position that economic and social questions were so important that they should be dealt with separately; they felt that the League of Nations tried to cover too much ground which was one of the reasons for its failure especially as to peace and security. However, the Soviet Delegation ultimately became persuaded of the soundness of our position.

Another basic issue discussed in the early stages of the Charter drafting period was that of the role of the General Assembly as compared with the Security Council. The League of Nations Assembly and its Council (with a limited membership which increased from 9 to 15), exercised similar functions and had similar powers. Those responsible for the development of the United States position in the early stages of the Charter discussions, felt that the League arrangement resulted in “everybody’s business being nobody’s business”; the League Council, they felt, did cover too much ground. Hence, the Security Council should be limited strictly to security issues, whereas the General Assembly could deal with a range of other and related questions including political stability, and economic and social welfare which bear upon conditions of stability among nations. This conception proved to have a general appeal and since it provided a principal organ with functions limited to security, it assisted the Russians in accepting the United States concept of an organization that would include also other functions for which other organs would be responsible.

Another early question was whether or not the Economic and Social Council should have a restricted membership and autonomous powers outside of the General Assembly, in a manner analogous to the Security Council. It was decided that the Economic and Social Council should have less freedom and independence and should, in fact, operate under the authority of the General Assembly. There were several reasons: (a) Individual nations were ready to go less far in granting authority to an international organization in the economic and social field than in the security field, (b) The General Assembly with its full membership of the United Nations was the appropriate organ to serve as a coordinator in the expanding field of specialized agencies which [Page 128] themselves were expected to be composed of most or all of the members of the General Assembly.

Still another issue was that of the Court’s status. The British thought that in view of the United States attitude toward an International Court after World War I, the United States would accept a Court more readily if it were separated from the UNO.17 There was also a general desire to use the Statute of the old Court under which considerable experience had been gained. General agreement to make the Court a principal organ of the UNO was achieved by giving the Court more freedom for its own internal management than was the case with other organs, yet creating it through the Charter.

Fundamental to the nature of the Organization itself was the question of whether there should be an over-all world organization as the basic structure, or whether, as the British thought at that time, there should be a series of regional organizations capped by a loose world structure at the top. Mr. Churchill and his advisers in the early stages of the discussions preferred the latter alternative. The United States never agreed with that position and felt that while there clearly were functions for regional organizations they should be built within the framework of a world structure, the viewpoint which ultimately prevailed.

Perhaps the most widely known controversy has been that over the voting provisions, and the so-called “veto power”.18 Mr. Pasvolsky recalled that the Security Council possesses all the powers of the League Council and substantially more. He observed that the League of Nations itself operated on the rule of unanimity on substantive questions, with one or two exceptions. Early in the considerations of the Charter, its framers raised the question of whether the time had come for a step forward—away from the rule of unanimity and toward the majority rule principle. The majority system was clearly indicated for the General Assembly, its powers being limited to recommending. However, the Security Council while operating in a limited field was to have substantial power to act. Could for instance the United States be asked to use its troops against its own desires (though obviously not against itself)? In the light of that type of question, the United States was clearly as much interested in the veto power as was the Soviet Union. (Our controversy with the Soviet Union over the question of whether a country itself involved in a controversy should have the right to vote, was a separate question.)

Whereas, under the unanimity rule of the League all Council members had the veto power, it was agreed that in the Security Council [Page 129] a decision could be made by seven of eleven members, which would bind the whole organization in certain cases, requiring, however, the concurrence of the five permanent members. The principal point of consideration was actually less the veto than the fact that decisions of the Council were binding upon the whole membership of the Organization.

Mr. Pasvolsky observed that in Mr. Evatt’s criticisms of the veto power, Mr. Evatt was consciously playing the part of the gadfly in impressing upon world opinion and upon the Great Powers themselves the responsibility of the Great Powers in the use of the veto. Mr. Evatt fully recognizes that if the veto were abolished the powers of the Security Council necessarily would have to be curtailed.

Another of the basic issues which arose early in the discussions was that of whether there should be an international police force or whether member nations should provide contingents from their own forces. The military advisers at Dumbarton Oaks considered this question at great length, the U.S.S.R. being the principal proponent of the international force. However, the military advisers ultimately indicated that the practical difficulties were insuperable. In response to a question by Mr. Lewis Lorwin, of the Department of Commerce, Mr. Pasvolsky indicated that some of those difficulties included the probability that such a force would have to be supported from some kind of international tax base, international territory would have to be maintained to house, train, and deploy such forces and perhaps world establishments would have to be operated to manufacture arms and equipment. Senator Connally added that he had combatted the idea from the beginning and observed that frictions would have been created wherever such forces were stationed just as frictions had been created during the war by stationing of “foreign troops” in various lands.

Mrs. Roosevelt observed, and Mr. Pasvolsky agreed, that under the arrangements contemplated in the Charter it would be practical for the Security Council to use those forces closest to the seat of trouble. It was observed that this would, of course, be up to the Security Council which can ask some or all of the forces under its control to participate in a given action.

Mr. Pasvolsky also observed that a subsidiary question concerning armed forces was whether there should be commitments by the various nations for limited or unlimited contingents. The United States students of the problem felt certain the contingents would have to be limited and that there would be a substantial advantage in the Security Council’s knowing exactly what forces it had available.19

[Page 130]

Mrs. Roosevelt raised the question of the relationship of the proposed Rio Treaty, announced in today’s news reports, to the Charter. Mr. Pasvolsky observed that the basic concept of the proposed Inter-American Treaty had its origins in the Resolution of Habana, 1940, and in the Act of Chapultepec.20 An attack by any state against any American nation will be considered an attack against all, and all parties have an obligation to take some action, and all are obligated to consult although they may or may not act.

The question was raised as to whether an attack, and a threat of attack, are to be considered as subject to the same type of action. Mr. Dulles observed that this question had required a month to settle in San Francisco and had given rise to the famous self-defense article of the Charter (Article 51) which provides that “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”, et cetera. This Article does not, however, permit any nation or group of nations to act in case of a threat or to intervene to prevent a threat of attack until authorized to do so by the Security Council.

Under the proposed Rio Treaty, American nations may act to repel an attack until the Security Council itself takes action, Mr. Pasvolsky explained. In the case of threats to the peace in the Western Hemisphere, the American nations must consult but enforcement action must be authorized by the Security Council. The character and extent of aid in the case of attack is within the discretion of each party. Two-thirds of the American nations must agree to measures to be taken for collective action and those who so vote are obligated to assist. All are obligated to consult in case of attack.

General Kenney raised the question whether under the proposed Rio Treaty, the United States could step in without Security Council consent if, for example, Paraguay were to attack Bolivia. Mr. Pasvolsky pointed out that the United States could do so and that the Security Council could then consider whether it approved the action. Even if all other members of the Security Council decided that they did not approve the United States could, of course, veto disapproval. However, [Page 131] such an action obviously would put the United States in a very awkward position.

Mr. Pasvolsky emphasized that the proposed Rio Treaty could not modify the rights of the Security Council to act under the Charter or the rights of individual or collective self-defense. He pointed out, however, that if the Security Council should state that it expected to handle a given problem a regional group such as the Inter-American system could not continue its activities independently.

It was also pointed out that the Security Council must be kept informed of steps contemplated by a regional group such as the Inter-American system.

Mrs. Roosevelt observed that presumably the Security Council would know of trouble and potential aggression brewing in any part of the world and would act to head off possible attack. In this connection, she pointed out that she felt that the prevention of the causes of war was a number-one responsibility of the Organization and said that she wondered whether it was generally recognized that the Economic and Social Council therefore has almost as heavy a responsibility in the security field as the Security Council itself. Mr. Pasvolsky pointed out that not only did such responsibility rest with the Economic and Social Council but also with its parent body, the General Assembly. He observed that there are a variety of causes of war—political as well as economic and social. The Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly, and the Secretary General, he said, all should keep the Security Council informed concerning threats to the peace. He pointed out that the power of the Secretary General in this connection is a great advance over the League of Nations in this respect. Mrs. Roosevelt added her observation that one of the great weaknesses of the League was that it could not tackle causes of war.

Senator Connally observed that in his opinion the proposed Rio Treaty should have a strong deterrent effect upon possible aggression by the American nations. He said clearly that the existence of the treaty arrangements could not prove hurtful and might very well be helpful. Mr. Pasvolsky agreed and observed that it imposed an implicit obligation on all countries in the Americas.

Mr. Pasvolsky also outlined briefly the basis of the Charter provisions concerning dependent areas. He pointed out that there are three different types of dependent areas: (a) mandates taken over from enemies of the Allied Powers in World War I; (b) territories to be detached from the enemies of the United Nations in World War II; (c) colonial areas which might voluntarily be placed under trusteeship by the parent countries.

He said there had existed, and he felt there continued to exist, two extreme views on how to handle dependent areas in the United Nations framework. One view held that an international system was not feasible [Page 132] and that a colonial system under independent parent powers was the answer. The opposite extreme was the view that no single nation should take responsibility for any dependent area and that all dependent areas should be held internationally.

Between these extremes lay the idea behind the Charter—a system of international trusteeship for some territories.

In San Francisco it had been agreed that for each territory placed under trusteeship an agreement would have to be negotiated among the “states directly concerned”. The agreements would have to be submitted for approval to the United Nations and the terms thereafter could be modified only by the parties to the agreements. The General Assembly was to be responsible for approving agreements covering non-strategic territories and the Security Council for territories deemed to be strategic.

Chapter XI of the Charter setting forth the declaration of principles regarding non-self-governing territories was, he said, a gesture in the direction of colonial areas in general. While Chapter XI does not carry supervision by the United Nations over colonial areas, it is a self-imposed obligation on colonial powers to live up to the standards set in the declaration and to report upon colonial administration to the Organization.

Mrs. Roosevelt asked what action could be taken by the Organization if the report of a colonial power was not satisfactory. It was observed that the real sanction in such case was public opinion and that there could be discussion in the General Assembly and even a resolution of censure.

The question was raised as to which powers are the “states directly concerned”. Mr. Pasvolsky said that so far as the mandated territories were concerned the Treaty of Versailles was the basis for the United States position that the “states directly concerned” were the Allied and Associated Powers of World War I—the United States, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan. The two latter states had, of course, eliminated themselves as enemy states of the United Nations in World War II. It is for the Allied and Associated Powers of World War I (without Italy and Japan) to decide what other states are “directly concerned”. If another state is the mandatory it is a “state directly concerned”. The addition of still others is a subject for negotiation. For territories detached from enemy states in World War II the question of which powers are “states directly concerned” must be settled by peace treaties to be drafted, under the procedure outlined in the recent Moscow communiqué. So far as colonies are concerned, Mr. Pasvolsky said that parent powers would simply prepare an agreement with the proposed trustee which might in any instance be the parent power itself.

Mr. Fortas observed that in certain instances there might be a [Page 133] stronger sanction than public opinion for violations of Chapter XI. He said that perhaps Article 14 of the Charter could be invoked, thus permitting the General Assembly to recommend measures “for the peaceful adjustment of a situation, regardless of origin, which it deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations, …”

  1. This refers to one of the briefing books described in the editorial note, p. 7. The chart in question is missing from the set in the IO Files; presumably it was an organizational chart.
  2. For documentation on the Dumbarton Oaks preliminaries to the establishment of an international organization for the maintenance of international peace and security, held at Washington, D.C., August 21–October 7, 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 713 ff.
  3. For documentation regarding the policy of the United States toward the International Court of Justice, see pp. 53 ff.
  4. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 251 ff.
  5. For documentation regarding this subject, see pp. 712 ff.
  6. For text of the proposed Inter-American treaty, later known as the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, signed on September 2, 1947 at Rio de Janeiro, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1838, or 62 Stat. (pt. 2) 1681; the Resolution of Habana was Article XIV of the Final Act and Convention signed on July 30, 1940 at Habana at the completion of the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, held July 21–30, 1940. For text of the Final Act and Convention, see Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1940, pp. 127 ff; the Act of Chapultepec was Resolution IX of the Final Act of the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace and was signed on March 8, 1945 at Mexico City. For text of the Act, see TIAS No. 1543, or 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1847.