IO Files: US(P)/A/M(Chr)/25

Minutes of the Twenty-fifth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the Third Regular Session of the General Assembly, Paris, Hotel d’Iéna, November 3, 1948, 9:15 a. m.


[Here follows list of persons (31) present.]

1. Review of recommended positions to be taken in plenary sessions

(a) Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories: report of the Fourth Committee (Mr. Gerig)

Mr. Gerig recalled that five resolutions on this matter would be considered by the plenary session. The Delegation had approved the recommendation on the first of these resolutions at a previous meeting.

He explained that Resolution II provided for the continuation of the Special Committee, with the same terms of reference, for another year. The Soviet Union might propose that it be made permanent. Mr. Gerig recommended that the United States support the resolution as it stands, and oppose any attempt to make the Special Committee permanent. He pointed out that the colonial powers already feel this committee is likely to go too far and generally opposed it. As it stood, the resolution would require a two-thirds majority. Mr. Rusk noted that if no resolution obtained a two-thirds majority, the matter would be referred back to Committee 4. The recommended position was approved by the Delegation without further comment.

Mr. Gerig then took up Resolution III which provided for better working liaison between the Special Committee and the Economic and [Page 284] Social Council by exchange of information. He recommended that the United States support the resolution. This position was approved by the Delegation without comment.

Resolution IV provided for collaboration with the specialized agencies. Mr. Gerig indicated it represented the general agreement of Committee 4. The position that the United States should vote for the resolution was accepted.

The Secretary asked Ambassador Austin to comment on the effect of the hearty endorsement by the United States of the principle of independence for the colonial peoples.1 Ambassador Austin said he was not in a position to comment. Mr. Dulles states that this position was very satisfactory for the United States, but also difficult because we were torn between our desire to help the colonial peoples toward independence and, on the other hand, were influenced by our strategic inter-dependence with the colonial powers which derived their economic strength from their colonies. He noted the traditional Communist position toward colonialism. This year the situation had been less acute as regarded the usual attack on the colonial powers by the Soviet group and states such as India, and no particularly great problems had been raised as regards the United States, position. Ambassador Sayre pointed out that there were two kinds of non-self-governing territories, trust territories and-colonial dependencies. The United Nations was given extensive powers over the trust territories, which powers were lacking as regards colonial dependencies. The USSR had made a continuing effort to extend these powers to non-self-governing colonial dependencies. Last year the Soviet bloc had outvoted the United States at every turn, along this general line, but the plenary had reversed the action of the Committee. This year the United States had succeeded in getting its position across in the Committee. He believed the USSR had lost its influence and noted that China and India were following the lead of this country. Mr. Dulles thought the same issue might appear, however, in an acute form in the consideration of the Italian Colonies question.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

Mr. Gross asked what significance should be attached to the change of position by India and China in Committee 4. Mr. Sayre thought Soviet hypocrisy had been shown up and that these States were now convinced of the sincerity of the United States. Also, the Indian representation was of better quality. Our policy tended to hold the balance, and in general, the committee was going forward in a liberal direction. The Secretary said the Chinese were afraid to take any position which might cause the Soviet Union to take a more active part in Manchuria.

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Mr. Gerig then turned to Resolution V. The main idea of this resolution was to inform the United Nations whenever the colonial powers stop giving information on particular territories and the reason why. He noted that two years ago 74 territories were being reported on; this year there were only 64. The reduction could be mostly accounted for by certain French territories, such as Tunis, Morocco, Vietnam and Cambodia, which had become associated states of the French union. The idea of the resolution was that states should inform the United Nations why they were not reporting on particular territories and what the new constitutional status of such territories was. He explained that, in voting for this resolution in Committee 4, Ambassador Sayre had stated that it would not alter the right of each state to determine the constitutional position and status of a territory under its jurisdiction. This would cover such cases as a United States decision to admit Alaska as a state, an action which we would not admit the United Nations had any right to challenge. Mr. Gerig noted that one group within the Committee would like to insist that the United Nations should determine whether a state is justified in not sending in the’ information. The recommendation that the United States should support this resolution was accepted without further comment.2

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

  1. The United States had taken this position consistently at the United Nations, from the first meeting of the General Assembly at London in January–February 1946.
  2. The committee report with its five draft resolutions was adopted by the General Assembly on November 3 after some debate in which the U.S. delegate did not speak; see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Third Session, Part I, Plenary Meetings, pp. 380 ff. (Hereafter cited as GA; (III/1), Plenary.)