800.014 Antarctic/12–1747

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs (Hulley)


Mr. Hadow, Counselor of the British Embassy, called on me December 17 to discuss the proposed British notes to the Argentine and Chilean Governments relative to claims in Antarctica outlined in his informal letter of December 9, 1947.1

I talked to Mr. Hadow along the lines of the memorandum of December [Page 1059] 16 which set forth our position.2 Mr. Hadow expressed disappointment at the suggestion that the notes omit a reference to submitting the questions at issue to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He said that this was the most important point in the note and he advanced the view that we might well be accused later of having sabotaged the Court, one of the three main pillars of the United Nations Organization, if we discouraged countries from appealing to it in any question. I pointed out that the question of timing was involved and that it might later seem a good idea to appeal to the Court, but that I could not see any sabotaging of the Court in the suggestion that this method be avoided at the present time in order not to jeopardize a larger plan for the solution of all Antarctic claims.

In touching on such a larger plan I mentioned that one idea we were studying is the possibility of establishing a special United Nations trusteeship. He took strong exception to this thought, asking how it would be possible to keep the Soviet Union from being one of the trustees since the Soviets have a claim based on the voyage of a Russian ship to the area over a hundred years ago. He expressed his personal opinion as being absolutely opposed to a trusteeship. Among other objections, he mentioned the strategic value to us of control of passage around Cape Horn in the event that the Panama Canal proved vulnerable.

He asked what the United States attitude would be if Chile or Argentina consulted us about submitting the dispute to the International Court for adjudication. He assumed that Chile would consult us, but that probably Argentina would not. It was important to the British to know whether we would advise the nation, if consulted, on the attitude to take. I told him I was not prepared to express a definite view on this point as it had not been raised so far with the other interested Divisions. Offhand I supposed that the principles I had already outlined to him would apply; specifically, we were likely to be governed by the thought that a general solution of the whole Antarctic problem should not be jeopardized by any premature action.

He was not sure whether the notes had actually been delivered to the Chilean and Argentine Governments. He would find out and let me know. He would be gratified if we would notify our Embassies in Chile and Argentina that in case those Governments asked advice on action to be taken on the British note, our Embassies would consult the Department before expressing any opinion. I suggest that this be done as soon as we know whether the British notes have been delivered and whether they retain the paragraph about the International Court.

Benjamin M. Hulley
  1. Not printed, but see footnote 1 to the Hulley memorandum of December 16, supra.
  2. Supra.