IO Files: USSC 46/3 (Report 6)

Minutes by the United States Delegation of the Five-Power Informal Meeting, London, Claridge’s Hotel, January 23, 1946, 11 a.m. 68

Present: The Secretary
Mr. Stettinius
Mr. Bohlen
Sir Alexander Cadogan
Mr. Wellington Koo
M. Paul-Boncour
M. Fouques Duparc
Mr. Vyshinsky
Ambassador Gromyko

At Mr. Byrnes’ request Mr. Stettinius outlined the result of the informal meeting of the eleven members of the Security Council on Monday in regard to the question of the Secretary General.69 He said that the following six names had been suggested:

  • Pearson
  • Simic
  • Rzymowski
  • Bonnet
  • Lie
  • Van Kleffens

[Page 167]

He said that it was understood that if no new names were received before midnight, that these six would be regarded as candidates for the position.

Mr. Vyshinski said that it was the view of his Government that, since the site was to be in the United States, and the basic activity of the organization and many of its branches were to be in Western Europe, the Secretary General should come from a Slavic country of Eastern Europe.

The Secretary said that he had previously expressed his opinion that the person selected for the job would be under obligations to be an international figure and not a representative of any country, and he therefore felt that too much emphasis should not be placed upon the geographic factor. He said he thought that the personal qualifications of the individual, should be the guiding considerations, and that, after discussing with Mr. Stettinius the various names which had been brought forth, and examining the qualifications, the United States Delegation had come to the conclusion that, of those proposed, Mr. Pearson was the most suitable.

Mr. Koo said that China attached great importance to this post and thought that every effort should be made to find a most suitable candidate. He also felt that because of his experience and his objectivity, Mr. Pearson would be the best candidate.

M. Boncour said that he felt that geographic considerations, while important, should not be the deciding factor since the Secretary General was an international figure who was supposed to have severed his ties with his native country. He said he had mentioned Bonnet because most of the candidates had appeared to be ambassadors accredited to Washington. He said the French Delegation had no very great preference among the persons proposed, but they would have preferred to have seen a statesman rather than a diplomat, perhaps someone who had been foreign minister of his country. This would bring to the post a broader experience than that of a diplomat. He said, for example, that Eden’s name had been mentioned, but that since he was not nominated, it was presumed that he was not available for the post. Lie, the Foreign Minister of Norway, would bring this experience to the post, but the drawback in his case was that he did not know French, which was one of the working languages of the organization. He repeated that the French Delegation had no strong preferences among the list proposed but would be inclined to accept any on the list which the others agreed to.

Mr. Bevin stated that Great Britain had put forth no candidate but had they put forth one, it might well have been Mr. Jebb, but after consideration, this thought had been abandoned. The British Government, while putting forward no candidate, felt that Mr. Pearson was the best of those nominated.

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Ambassador Gromyko said he had already expressed the view of his Government on this point, and that, while he agreed that geography should not be the controlling factor, it nevertheless should not be lost sight of; that both the factors of personal ability and experience as well as the country of origin should be considered. He said, for example, that although the Organization would be international no matter in what country it was located, there had been great debate in the Preparatory Commission concerning the site.70 He said he had known Mr. Pearson since 1943 and thought he was personally very well qualified for the job, but he felt that, with the site in the United States, to appoint a Canadian would cause legitimate complaint from several European countries on the ground that there was too much American influence. He said that since the specialized agency of the Organization would probably be in Western Europe and especially important meetings would take place there, plus the fact that English and French would undoubtedly remain as the working languages which meant that there would be more English and French in the Secretariat, it was only right that the Secretary General should be from an Eastern European country. It was for this reason that the Soviet Delegation proposed either Simic or Rzymowski, either of whom he felt would be personally well qualified.

The Secretary said he wished to point out that the United States had in no way sought the location of the Organization in the United States. He said he mentioned this fact because he felt that the decision of the United Nations, which, incidentally, had first been proposed at San Francisco by the Soviet Delegation there, to locate the Organization in the United States should not affect other decisions.

Mr. Vyshinski said he fully understood, but nevertheless the location of the Organization in itself did enter into the matter. He felt that the decision was correct, and he was glad that it had been done on Soviet initiative. He said, however, the Organization wherever located must have living and creative ties with all countries, and in view of the fact that its first function was the preservation of peace, it was very suitable that the Secretary General should come from one of the countries which had especially suffered during the war. While all of the United Nations had done their share, few of them had been reduced to a desert as had Yugoslavia and Poland. This fact, he felt, should be taken into consideration.

Then ensued a general discussion as to procedure, namely, whether to hold a formal meeting of the Security Council to vote on the matter, or to continue informal discussion among the members. It was finally agreed that there would be an informal meeting this afternoon among [Page 169] the eleven members in order to discuss additional candidates and to hear from the non-permanent members. It was finally understood that if this informal meeting failed to produce agreement, the Council would then hold a formal meeting and vote, even if the absence of unanimity among the permanent members rendered the election of a Secretary General impossible. During this discussion Mr. Bevin spoke strongly against the practice of having private meetings, which, he said, led to suspicion and uncertainty.71

  1. Drafted by Mr. Bohlen.
  2. See footnote 63, p. 163.
  3. For documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, pp. 1433 ff.
  4. This meeting was held on January 23, with inconclusive results (IO Files, U.S. document USSC 46/3/Report 7).