IO Flies: US/A/M(Chr)/511

Minutes of the Seventh Meeting of the United States Delegation, New York, September 15, 1947, 3 p.m.2


[Here follow the list of persons (31) present and a discussion of preceding items on the agenda of the meeting.]

Information From Non-Self-Governing Territories

Mr. Green3 reported that there had been a sharp cleavage between the colonial and anti-colonial powers in the recent meeting of the ad hoc [Page 288] Committee on the Transmission of Information under Article 73e.4 The delegates of the U.S.S.R., China, Philippines, India and sometimes the Arab States took the position that Chapter XI implied that the United Nations should have broad supervisory powers with respect to non-self-governing territories. The U.S.S.R. has argued quite frequently for immediate independence. Of the administering powers, the French, Dutch and Belgians had taken the most recalcitrant attitude, while the British, Australians, New Zealanders and Danes had been willing to accept a broad interpretation of Chapter XI, subject to the maintenance of their sovereign position. The United States, he continued, had tried to provide constructive leadership and to rally the moderate states by stressing the need for concrete proposals. Such proposals had in the past won a large measure of support. He explained that the position paper (US/A/C.4/34)5 had been based on the first draft of the Ad Hoc Committee report supplemented by a conversation with Mr. Gerig, who sat for the United States. He said the paper was very preliminary and subject to clearance by the Navy and Interior departments.

There were three issues involved, he explained: (1) the kind of information that should be transmitted; (2) what the Secretary-General should do with the information; and (3) what the General Assembly should do with it. The Charter was very precise on the first issue. Despite the fact that political information had been deliberately left out of Article 73e, there had been a concerted effort to include political information. Mr. Gerig had agreed to include political information in the United States reports but only as a voluntary transaction. This stand was endorsed by the other administering powers. The United States had submitted a draft outline including an optional section on general information. This had been unanimously accepted. The second issue was more difficult since the Charter left this open. Article 73e was stretched somewhat at London when the Secretary-General was requested to prepare summaries and analyses. The United States had insisted that the Secretary-General’s use of supplemental documents be subject to the approval of the administering power concerned, and that the Secretary-General should not analyze political information. Use by the Secretary-General, for the purposes of comparison, of data on independent states had been approved by the Ad Hoc Committee, [Page 289] but had not been very popular with non-reporting states, who saw dangerous implication for themselves. It was generally agreed by the United States that the General Assembly could discuss any matter relating to dependent countries. The United States position papers for the Ad Hoc Committee stated that the General Assembly should also have power to make recommendations of a functional character but not to individual states. The Ad Hoc Committee had also recommended the establishment by the General Assembly Committee 4 of a Special Committee, but left to the Assembly whether it should meet during or before the next General Assembly.

Mr. Dulles called attention to the difficulty of deciding, in the light of United States foreign policy as a whole, the extent to which the United States should work along with the Western European colonial powers and the extent to which it should come out for dependent peoples. The U.S.S.R., he noted, had refused membership on the Trusteeship Council, but was striving to develop the Ad Hoc Committee, which exercised jurisdiction over a wider group of territories, into a serious competitor of the Trusteeship Council. This would make it possible for the U.S.S.R. to stir up more trouble. The U.S.S.R., he recalled, had usually been able to muster a substantial majority against the United States position in such matters. United States Committee IV delegates ought to have a general indication of the United States policy on the fundamental problem.

Ambassador Sayre noted that Mr. Gerig had done an excellent job in the Ad Hoc Committee in protecting the interests of the United States. He felt that the position paper went about as far as the United States could go at the moment. He had no doubt that the Soviets intended to make the best of the propaganda potentialities of this issue. Mr. Dulles agreed that Mr. Gerig had done an excellent job in thwarting the extreme tactics of the anti-colonial bloc and at the same time in avoiding identification with the colonial powers. This, said Mr. Dulles, should continue to be the United States policy in the future. He added that it was generally possible for the Russians and Indians to rally Committee 4 against the United States.

Ambassador Sayre pointed out that the great difference between the Ad Hoc Committee and the Trusteeship Council lay in the matter of sovereignty. Chapter XI entailed no surrender of sovereignty. Mr. Green replied affirmatively when asked by Ambassador Austin if reports had been received on seventy-four territories. Mr. Fahy held that the United States position was legally sound, but that it would be risky to go further. The United States could not take the position that the information submitted could not be discussed by the General Assembly. Functional recommendations were also proper. Citing Article II(7), he added that the United States was also right in resisting any [Page 290] effort to have the General Assembly make recommendations to Members with respect to their non-self-governing territories. This position should not be abandoned unless the International Court of Justice decided otherwise. It could not be fairly criticized as a conservative interpretation of the Charter.

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.

Roger Mann
  1. Short title for the Master Files of the Reference and Documents Section of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State.
  2. For information regarding the composition and organization of the United States Delegation to the second regular session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, see pp. 313 ff. The General Assembly convened at New York on September 16, 1947.
  3. James F. Green, Associate Chief of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs, and Adviser, U.S. Delegation Advisory Staff.
  4. The Ad Hoc Committee met at Lake Success August 28–September 12, 1947. The Committee was composed of 16 members, eight representing governments transmitting information under Article 73(e)—Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and eight representing Member Governments elected by the General Assembly—Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and Uruguay. For text of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Second Session, Fourth Committee (hereafter cited as GA (II), Fourth Committee), annex 4a, pp. 202 ff.
  5. Infra.