IO Files: USSC 46/13 Conv.3

Minutes by the United States Delegation of the Five-Power Informal Meeting, Held at London, Claridge’s Hotel, January 20, 1946 60

Participants: James F. Byrnes
Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.
Andrei Gromyko
Ernest Bevin60a
Wellington Koo
Victor Hoo
Ambassador Massigli61
Fouques Duparc

Mr. Byrnes called the meeting to order and stated that he felt it was important that the five countries there represented discuss a number of topics inasmuch as they were all interested in them, specifically on the resolution of atomic energy, and the matter of the Secretary General. He said this was not a formal meeting, but an informal exchange of views.

Mr. Bevin immediately spoke up and said “I wish to make clear that while I am willing to have an informal exchange of views, I cannot be committed to anything in this room. My Government must always be free to act according to its conscience.” Later on in the afternoon he put it stronger, saying he disliked the five power conversations and hoped he would not have to have them often as it was bad to have secret conferences and would cause resentment in the United Nations. This is totally different from the view he expressed to me when I called on him in September, at which time he overruled Noel Baker and encouraged me to go ahead and have five power exchanges of views which he thought would be helpful.

All the others there stated that they thought it was most useful to have such a meeting and were glad Mr. Byrnes had invited them to come.

Mr. Byrnes then stated he had asked me to be with him inasmuch as I was the United States Representative on the Security Council and the matters we were going to discuss principally involved the Security Council, and also I would be the Chairman of the United States Delegation when he left. He further stated that as soon as the atomic resolution was approved it would be necessary for him to return to Washington, and that might occur any day.

[Page 162]

Mr. Byrnes stated that he wished to discuss the matter of the Secretary General. He said that he had not given this matter any thought until he had reached London, but after discussing the whole question with the members of his delegation, he and the delegation had come to the conclusion that of all the names which had been brought forth that Pearson, the Canadian Ambassador to Washington, was the best qualified, and he wished to put forth his name. Mr. Byrnes said Pearson was a young man about 50, was promising, would be able to grow in the job as more responsibilities were given to him, he spoke French well, he had an excellent standing among diplomats and that he had presided well at the recent FAO conference. Mr. Byrnes talked at some length and specifically stated that Pearson was our candidate and was the best qualified man we knew of. He made no reference to the fact that we had been searching for a European and had not been able to find one whom we felt measured up to Pearson.

Mr. Gromyko then stated that he felt that you could not divorce personality from geography, that they had a very high opinion of Pearson and thought well of him and were friendly toward him, but with the site in the United States and taking a Secretary General from Canada, they thought that would be criticized by the European people and the American people, and perhaps not be good for the organization. He said he had advanced the name of Simic62 to all the Governments’ representatives, and had had a favorable response from some but had received nothing from the others. He wished again to speak for Simic as a likely candidate. He laid great emphasis on the need of a representative from Eastern Europe in this post, particularly inasmuch as the site would be in the North American continent.

Mr. Byrnes then read from the Charter, regarding the qualifications, saying the Secretary General should be an international public servant and free from any influence of any state.

Mr. Gromyko immediately responded that that rule would apply to Simic as much as to Pearson. Mr. Gromyko ended his remarks by saying he would find great difficulty in accepting Pearson for this post even though they had a very friendly feeling toward him.

Mr. Koo spoke up saying that his Government was prepared to accept Pearson, that he was perfectly willing to consider other names if they were brought up, but Pearson was the best which had been brought forth.

Mr. Paul-Boncour stated that he had heard the names of two Ambassadors to Washington mentioned, the Yugoslavian and Canadian, but he wished to call attention to the fact that France also had an Ambassador in Washington and he was a very good man and his name [Page 163] was Henri Bonnet, and he wished to bring his name forth for the post.

Mr. Bevin stated that his Government had decided not to bring forward any candidate for this post and had decided to sit back and study the field as it developed. He said they had considered bringing forth the names of some of their own countrymen who were extremely high in world affairs, but they had decided that would be a mistake and they would bring forth no Englishman for the post. He said that of the names mentioned, he was attracted to Pearson and he was sure his Government would support him.

At this point I spoke up and stated that it was very important that the five reach a conclusion on this matter—that the Secretary General was the next item on the agenda and that presumably we would have to decide in Executive Session on Tuesday, and inasmuch as it required unanimity, no Secretary General could be elected until we five could agree. There was a great discussion then as to whether it would be wise for us to continue consultation until we could agree, or to have a meeting of the Security Council, formal or informal, to take the other six non-permanent members into the discussion. After further discussion it was decided that it would be best to have an informal discussion of the eleven all together. I was designated to talk to Makin, the Australian Chairman, and immediately arrange for him to call an informal meeting of the eleven with only one representative or possibly two from each country tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 at any place which he selected. At that time there would be the same exchange of views which took place this afternoon, and out of that meeting, progress might be expected.63

  1. Drafted by Mr. Stettinius.
  2. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the U.K. Delegation to the General Assembly.
  3. M. René Massigli, French Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Delegate on the Delegation of France.
  4. Mr. Stanoje Simic, Yugoslav Ambassador to the United States; Delegate on the Yugoslav Delegation.
  5. This meeting was held on January 21, with inconclusive results (IO Files, U.S. document USSC 46/3/Report 5).