IO Files: SD/A/31

Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Special Political Affairs (Hiss) to the Acting Secretary of State (Acheson)99


Subject: U.S. Slates for Election of Members of Security Council, Economic and Social Council, and Trusteeship Council.

the problem

At the second part of the first session of the General Assembly which will be convened on September 23, 1946, it will be necessary to elect three states to non-permanent membership on the Security Council, [Page 189] and six states to the Economic and Social Council, to replace states whose membership will expire in January 1947. If it is possible to establish the Trusteeship Council, it may also be necessary to elect one or more states to membership thereon, in order to attain an equal division between states which administer trust territories and states which do not, in accordance with Article 86 of the Charter. (For present composition of these Councils, see Table, page 3.)99a


It is recommended that the United States slate for non-permanent membership on the Security Council be Belgium, Colombia, and Syria.
It is recommended that the United States slate for election to the Economic and Social Council be the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland or the Byelorussian SSR, Uruguay, Turkey, and the United States.
If an election to the Trusteeship Council should be required, it is recommended that the United States slate be Egypt, Denmark and the Philippines, in the order named.
It is recommended that no commitments for United States support for election to these Councils be made to the representatives of any foreign countries prior to September 5, 1946 and that, whenever possible, commitments be avoided until the United States Delegation to the General Assembly reaches New York. It is further recommended that if such representatives should approach the Department seeking United States support, the Officers concerned should respond in accordance with the following formula:
  • (a) In answer to all inquiries, it should be emphasized that no final decisions have been made, and that they will probably not be taken until the Delegation reaches New York.
  • (b) If an approach is made by a representative of a country which the Department plans to support, a statement may be made to the effect that the United States is giving serious consideration to its candidacy.
  • (c) If an approach is made by a country whose candidacy the United States would definitely oppose, its representative should be informed that there is no present prospect of support for it.

It is further recommended that, unless special circumstances suggest the desirability of a contrary course in a particular case, states which may be admitted to membership in the United Nations at the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly not be considered for election to these Councils at this time.

[Page 190]


Present Membership on U.N. Councils and Recommended U.S. Slates

present membership proposed slate
security council
permanent members:
non-permament members:
Two-Year Term:
One-Year Term: Two-Year Term:
Egypt Syria
Mexico Colombia
The Netherlands Belgium
economic and social council:
Three-Year Term:
Two-Year Term:
One-Year Term: Three-Year Term:
Colombia Uruguay
Greece The Netherlands
Lebanon Turkey
Ukrainian S.S.R. Poland or Byelorussian S.S.R.
U.S. U.S.
Yugoslavia New Zealand
trusteeship council
(Not yet organized) If elections are necessary:
Three-Year Term:
(Preference for elective posts in order named).


1. Security Council

Under Article 23 of the Charter, the General Assembly each year elects three non-permanent members to the Security Council for a term of two years, “due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance [Page 191] of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution.” A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.

Subject to the condition that members be capable of making an important contribution to the maintenance of international peace, the Department, on the basis of the present membership of the United Nations, has considered it desirable to include among the six non-permanent members of the Security Council:

  • One member of the British Commonwealth
  • One country from Eastern and Central Europe
  • One country from Northern, Western and Southern Europe
  • Two countries from the other American Republics
  • One country from the Near East and Africa
    (SC–171/8, November 15, 1945).1

It is to be noted that the above proposed categories provide for appropriate current representation of the Pacific-Far Eastern area in as much as China is a permanent member of the Security Council and Australia by virtue of its election last January to a two-year membership will be a member of the Council during the next year.

This distribution was attained in the elections held at London last January, when Egypt, Mexico, The Netherlands, Australia, Brazil and Poland were chosen as non-permanent members of the Security Council. The first three of these states will retire from the Security Council, in January 1947; Australia, Brazil and Poland will continue to serve for another year.

If the existing balance among the non-permanent members is to be retained, Egypt, Mexico and The Netherlands must be replaced by a Near Eastern or African State, a Latin American State and a Western European State.

Turkey, though originally favored by the Department for the Security Council at this election, has expressed a preference, for membership on the Economic and Social Council. At the same time Syria, which we had preferred for ECOSOC, is apparently the Arab League’s candidate for the Security Council. It seems desirable to support this exchange of candidacies between the two countries.

Colombia was similarly slated as a replacement for Mexico, and no change in this selection is recommended. Colombia is favored as a matter of preference, rather than pursuant to commitment, since the United States’ vote for Colombia at the Economic and Social Council election last January discharged any previous commitment.

Belgium is regarded as the logical successor to The Netherlands. Although Belgium will retain a seat on the Economic and Social [Page 192] Council for two more years, it is nevertheless considered more desirable to support it at this time for election to the Security Council than Norway, Denmark, or Luxembourg, the other eligible Western European States which are now Members of the United Nations.

2. Economic and Social Council

Under Article 61 of the Charter, the General Assembly each year elects six members to this Council for a term of three years. A retiring member is eligible for immediate re-election.

The current membership of the Economic and Social Council is indicated in the Table on Page 3.

The existing geographic balance in the Council is as follows:

  • The Five Major Powers
  • Four Latin American Republics (Chile, Cuba, Peru, Colombia)
  • Four Eastern European States (Czechoslovakia, Greece, Ukrainian S.S.R., Yugoslavia)
  • Two members of the British Commonwealth (Canada, India)
  • Two Western European Countries (Belgium, Norway)
  • One Near Eastern or African State (Lebanon)

The present distribution of seats differs in some respects from that proposed in the Department before the elections held in London last January, and will probably be further modified as new states are admitted to the United Nations. It is suggested that, in the forthcoming election, the United States seek to change the existing distribution by the election of one additional member of the British Commonwealth and one additional Western European State, to replace two of the four Eastern European countries (not including the U.S.S.R.) now represented on the Council. The resulting geographic balance would be the same as that proposed by the United States representative last January, in conversations with the delegates of the other major Powers at London. (USGA/Gen 30/Conv 14, Jan. 11, 1946).2

This distribution would be attained if the United States, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland or the Byelorussian S.S.R., Uruguay, and Turkey were chosen to replace the six members of the Council whose terms expire next January.

The United States should be re-elected without difficulty, in view of the common agreement on the desirability of representation for all five of the major Powers on the Economic and Social Council.

The Netherlands, because it is an important factor in world economy, is suggested as a replacement for Greece. The Netherlands will retire from the Security Council in January.

New Zealand is indicated to succeed Yugoslavia because it voluntarily [Page 193] withdrew from a deadlocked election in the General Assembly at London, thereby permitting Yugoslavia to occupy the last unfilled seat on the Council.

The Byelorussians S.S.R. or Poland is listed for election as the result of a process of elimination. Czechoslovakia will remain on the Council for another year. Generally, except in the case of the major Powers, it is felt that immediate re-election is undesirable, as it would result in deferring membership unduly for many states. Consequently, neither Yugoslavia nor the Ukrainian S.S.R. is included on the slate, and only the two states listed remain for consideration. While Poland is far more important than the Byelorussian S.S.R. as an economic factor, it must be remembered that it retains a seat on the Security Council for another year. When the election occurs, consideration should be given to supporting the Eastern European State whose candidacy the Soviet Union is most actively pressing.

Uruguay, a state whose political, economic and social policies are on the whole favorable from the United States point of view, is the preferred choice to succeed Colombia on the Council. This recommendation, however, is made subject to the possibility that the United States might agree to support some other American Republic chosen as a result of consultation among the delegations of the other American Republics. Before the results of such consultation are fixed, it is recommended that the United States discreetly encourage support of Uruguay’s candidacy.

It seems desirable to respect Turkey’s preference for membership on the Economic and Social Council and, at the same time, the Arab League’s apparent choice of Syria for the Security Council.

3. Trusteeship Council

Article 86 of the Charter provides that the Trusteeship Council shall consist of the following Members of the United Nations:

  • (a) those Members administering trust territories;
  • (b) such of the five major Powers as are not administering trust territories; and
  • (c) as many other Members elected for three-year terms by the General Assembly as may be necessary to ensure that the total number of members of the Trusteeship Council is equally divided between those Members of the United Nations which administer trust territories and those which do not.

The Trusteeship Council can not be established until a sufficient number of states have become administering authorities as a result of the conclusion, by the states directly concerned, of trusteeship agreements for specified territories, and the approval of such agreements by the Security Council or the General Assembly. It is possible that the [Page 194] General Assembly will approve a number of these agreements at its September session.3

If the U.K., France, and Belgium should become administering authorities, the Trusteeship Council could be brought into existence without an election, since China, the U.S.S.R., and the United States would automatically serve as the balancing powers.

If trusteeship agreements for Australia and New Zealand, as well as the U.K., France, and Belgium, should be approved by the Assembly in September, or if some other combination of states should become administering authorities, an election might be necessary. In this event, it is recommended that the United States support Egypt, Denmark and Uruguay, respectively, for the first, second and third elective posts.

Egypt is recommended because it is believed that an Arab State should be represented on the Trusteeship Council in view of the intense interest of the Arab states in the problem of trusteeship, unless Egypt should be elected to the Economic and Social Council.

Denmark is suggested because of the traditional interest of the Scandinavian countries in equal treatment in social, economic and commercial matters, one of the basic objectives of the trusteeship system, and the contribution which Scandinavian nationals might, on the basis of their role in the Permanent Mandates Commission, be expected to make in the Trusteeship Council.

The Philippines are recommended because it seems desirable, in view of their recent achievement of independence, for the United States to support them for some United Nations post and because the Philippine delegate shows a very strong individual interest in trusteeship questions and was very active on the subject at San Francisco and London.

4. Procedure Prior to Elections

It is recognized that these slates constitute optimum proposals from the point of view of the United States. In all probability they will undergo some modification during the course of pre-election negotiations with other countries. This is especially likely in cases where groups such as the Latin American Republics or the Arab League select candidates with regard to which the United States has no special objection. In such cases, after discreet advocacy of its own candidates, the United States Delegation may be well advised to concur in the ultimate decision of the group. It is believed that the procedure and formula outlined in Recommendation No. 4, above, will serve to reduce to a minimum the possibility of misunderstanding, disappointment, and charges of bad faith.

  1. In a covering memorandum of even date Mr. Hiss minuted to Mr. Acheson:

    “The attached memorandum on United States slates for election of members of the Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council was prepared in meetings of the Membership Team and cleared through the interested Offices: SPA, EUR, FE, NEA, ARA, and ITP.

    “It is hoped that this memorandum can be discussed in the meeting in your office at 9:30 on Wednesday, August 7, so that it will be available for distribution in the Department and for transmission to Mr. Johnson [Herschel V. Johnson, Acting United States Representative at the United Nations] in New York.

    “It is felt that, in the circumstances, any slate prepared now may need to be modified in the light of later developments in actual negotiations just preceding the General Assembly. Accordingly, as a supplement to the attached memorandum, the Membership Team is preparing possible alternative choices.” (501.BB/8–646) See memorandum of September 24, p. 197.

    Departmental action on the slates question had begun on June 5, at which time the Department’s United Nations Liaison Committee had agreed that the Committee’s working team on membership questions should have its terms of reference broadened “to consider the entire problem of slates, to prepare background papers, and to formulate policy recommendations in this regard.” (Extract from Minutes of Meeting of UNLC, June 5, 1946, File No. 501.BB/6–546) At least six drafts of this paper were prepared between the inception of the project and the final memorandum of August 6; these are scattered throughout several folders in RSC Lot File, 55–D324, Box 10100.

    This memorandum was approved by Acting Secretary Acheson on August 15 (memorandum by Durward V. Sandifer, Chief of the Division of International Organization Affairs, to Miss Dorothy Fosdick of the division, August 20, File No. 501.BB/8–2046). It was then set up as a Departmental position paper for the use of the U.S. Delegation.

  2. Reference is to the Table printed on p. 190.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, p. 1433.
  4. Ante, p. 153.
  5. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 544 ff.