The Legal Adviser (Gross) to the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs (Kerno)

My Dear Dr. Kerno: I have received your letter of August 27, 1947, referring to the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the United States and suggesting that certain provisions of that Agreement might be brought into effect with respect to the temporary headquarters of the United Nations.

Your refer in this connection to the General Assembly resolution of 14 December 1946 which authorized the Secretary-General “to [Page 55] negotiate and conclude arrangements with the appropriate authorities of the United States of America to determine on a provisional basis the privileges, immunities and facilities needed in connexion with the permanent headquarters of the United Nations”. I assume that although the words “permanent headquarters” are used in this resolution that in fact the resolution should have referred to the “temporary” headquarters.

Although at one time it was our feeling in the Department of State that certain provisions of the Headquarters Agreement could be brought into effect at the temporary headquarters by the issuance of an executive order without the support of other documents, I have some doubt as to whether an executive order should be issued until there has been an exchange of notes between the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretary of State which would specify the provisions of the Headquarters Agreement that would be applicable as between the United Nations and the United States. This seems important because if the United States is asked to extend to the United Nations at its temporary headquarters the provisions of Article III concerning the inviolability of the Headquarters area, for example, the United Nations should, on its part, agree to “prevent the (temporary) headquarters district from becoming a refuge” as provided in Section 9(b) of the Headquarters Agreement.

I think that you will agree that this is a matter which can be worked out quickly between representatives of this Government and the United Nations.

As you know, Mr. Fahy, my predecessor as Legal Adviser, will be one of the United States Delegates to the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly. He has agreed to act as the Department’s representative in arranging for an exchange of notes which might serve as a basis for this Government to bring into effect certain provisions of the Headquarters Agreement at the temporary headquarters.

I do not know whether you will wish to undertake such negotiations prior to the consideration by the General Assembly of the Headquarters Agreement. My own feeling is that if we were to conclude such negotiations prior to Assembly consideration of the Agreement we might to some extent prejudice consideration of the Agreement by the Assembly. My own inclination would be to postpone the negotiations until after the General Assembly has considered the Headquarters Agreement. This is a matter which you may wish to discuss with Mr. Fahy.

I hope that it will be possible for me sometime during the sessions of the Assembly to come to New York and make your acquaintance.

Sincerely yours,

Ernest A. Gross