IO Files: US(P)/A/M(Chr)/24

Minutes of the Twenty-fourth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Paris, Hotel d’Iéna, October 29, 1948, 9:15 a. m.


[Here follows list of persons (35) present and discussion of another subject.]

2. Report of Committee 4 on Information From Non-Self Governing Territories

Mr. Gerig explained that Committee 4 had adopted five resolutions dealing with the report of the Special Committee on Information [Page 281] Transmitted under Article 73(e) of the Charter. These resolutions were contained in document A/695 which would be considered by the Assembly in its next plenary session.1 He referred the Delegation to the accompanying position papers on this matter.2

The first resolution dealt with the method of transmitting information under Article 73(e) and was intended to improve the existing procedures. Mr. Gerig noted in particular the provisions of Paragraph 3 of this resolution which authorized the Secretary General “to include in his summaries and analyses all relevant and comparable official statistical information”. He explained that this would enable the Secretary General to make comparisons between, for example, health expenditures in other countries in the same area. He recommended that this resolution be supported, unless the USSR should propose amendments going beyond its present terms. He explained that the USSR would like to require the submission of political information, and in this connection noted that a Soviet proposal, which would have required such political information and would have permitted information to be submitted from private persons and local groups or organizations, had been defeated in the Committee.3 He pointed out that the adoption of such a requirement would wipe out the distinction between a colony and a trust territory. The British and French regarded such a provision as absolutely unacceptable for that reason. As the resolution stood, however, it would require only a simple majority vote.

Mr. Jacobs inquired whether the USSR furnished any information on the territories which it had taken over from Japan, in particular the Kurile Islands and southern Sakhalin. Mr. Gerig said the Soviets had submitted no information, a fact which the British had pointed out. These territories, however, had been handed over to the USSR at Yalta, and the USSR would not admit any responsibility to treat them as non-self-governing territories. Mr. Cohen did not see how that followed. Mr. Dulles said the USSR contended these territories were fully self-governing. Mr. Gerig indicated that the USSR would say, if this point were raised, that they were part of its metropolitan domain. Mr. Cohen commented that the USSR always strongly opposed [Page 282] the incorporation of territories by other states into the metropolitan area, and wondered if it was not exposed in this case and should be made to answer for its own contrary situation. There was nothing in the Yalta arrangement as to how the USSR should govern these territories, and he noted that he had seen no Soviet decrees giving them the status of republics. Mr. Gerig indicated there might be a possibility of making some proposals on this matter.

The Secretary asked for the Department’s views on this matter. Mr. Gerig explained that it was not ready to put forward any specific proposal because there was some question as to whether we had not agreed that these territories were part of Russian territory handed back to the USSR. No final decision had been taken, however. Mr. Cargo stated that the research divisions of the Department had been requested to make a study as to whether the USSR and also India might not have territories which could be classed as non-self-governing. The opinion drawn from these studies was that neither country had such territories.

Mrs. Roosevelt expressed interest in the defeated Soviet proposal which would have permitted the transmission of information from individual groups. She thought the citizens of a country should have the right to petition, but noted that in the case of petitions received by the Human Rights Commission from groups within the USSR, when such petitions were turned over to the USSR, the Soviet Representative said they were totally lacking in validity because they came from individuals or small groups. She thought that point was worth remembering if the USSR made trouble on this resolution.

Mr. Gerig then turned to the second resolution. He said this was more important since it had to do with the setting up of a special committee. This committee, like the previous committee, would be composed of the eight Colonial Powers and eight other Members to balance the Colonial group. The Resolution recommended the extension of the committee for an additional year. He pointed out that the British, French, and Belgian Delegations would like to discontinue the Special Committee because they felt its only function was to work out the procedure for the transmission of information. Mr. Gerig believed, however, that it was better to have a balanced commission to do the initial work than to throw this information into the 58-Member Fourth Committee. He noted that this recommendation for the continuance of the Committee was “without prejudice to the future.” A proposal for a permanent committee had lost by a tie vote. If this motion were re-introduced a two-thirds majority should be required. Mr. Dulles asked whether the resolution in its present form required a two-thirds vote. Mr. Gerig said he thought the whole resolution should be subject to two-thirds rule and pointed out that last year the resolution setting up the Special Committee had required a two-thirds majority.

[Page 283]

Mr. Gerig explained that Paragraph 2 of the resolution [Resolution II] set forth the terms of reference of the Committee. He noted that the Colonial Powers were very sensitive on the question of substantive recommendations. The United States, unlike the other Colonial Powers, however, did not object to substantive recommendations on such matters as health and labor conditions. He indicated that certain states, however, would attempt to extend the scope of the Committee’s operation. In that case, the United States would have to resort to the domestic jurisdiction clause of the Charter. Mr. Gerig recommended that the United States support this resolution.

The Secretary stated that the recommendations as to the first resolution were adopted. The Delegation would consider the second resolution at a later date. Mr. Dulles indicated that he might not be present at the next meeting where this would be discussed and, therefore, wanted to state that he agreed with the recommendations on all five resolutions as set forth in the position papers.

  1. For report of the Fourth Committee on transmission of information from Non-Self-Governing Territories (United Nations document A/695), see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Third Session, Part I, Plenary, Annexes, p. 289. (Hereafter cited as GA (III/1), Plenary, Annexes.)
  2. There were four position papers dealing with the five resolutions, contained in documents US(P)/A/194–197, found in the IO Files. The paper dealing with Resolution II (document US(P)/A/194) is printed infra.
  3. This situation is briefly described in the Committee’s report, GA (III/1), Plenary, Annexes, pp. 290–292. Also, the proceedings of the Fourth Committee as a whole are available in United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Third Session, Part I, Fourth Committee.