Memorandum by the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Daniels)

On Saturday morning, July 31, 11 a. m., the “Committee of Five”, established by Resolution XIV of the Havana Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministers of 1940, held its first meeting in the office of the Secretary General of the OAS at the Pan American Union. The following persons were present:

  • Mexico—Ambassador Quintanilla
  • Brazil—Ambassador Bello
  • Argentina—Ambassador Corominas
  • United States—Ambassador Daniels.

The Cuban member was absent.

Ambassador Lavalle, Chairman of the COAS, was present to install the Committee and presided at the outset of the meeting.

Dr. Lleras, Secretary General of the OAS, was present but did not participate in the debates.

Dr. Manger, Assistant Secretary General, was present and acted as Secretary of the Committee.

Three mimeographed documents (copies attached) were distributed to the members of the Committee, as follows:

Resolution XIV of the Havana meeting recommending the creation of the Committee.
Report of the Special Committee of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union to study Resolution XIV.
Extract from minutes of meeting of Governing Board of December 4, 1940, setting forth reservation of Venezuela and abstention of Chile in regard to creation of Committee.

After a lengthy discussion it was generally agreed that it would be desirable for the Chairman of the COAS (Dr. Lavalle at present) to act as Chairman of the Committee of Five, even though he not be considered a member of the Committee and have no vote. In the event the Chairman of the COAS should likewise happen to be a member of the Committee of Five, then the Vice Chairman of the COAS would preside in the same conditions. If both the Chairman and the Vice Chairman happen to be members of the Committee, then the eldest ranking member of the COAS would preside in the same conditions. Ambassador Quintanilla undertook to draw up some regulations covering this point for approval by the members.

Ambassador Daniels raised two questions:

Could or should the Committee take the initiative in studying a conflict between two or more American States, or must any such study be the result of the problem having been presented to the Committee by one or more of the interested parties?
Does the Committee have the power to investigate facts? Or must it rely solely on information sent to it, but without direct investigation on its own part?

The first question gave rise to an extended debate in the course of which Dr. Manger read letters from representatives of some of the countries at the time the Committee was created, indicating that those countries had made reservations regarding the power of the Committee to intervene in disputes unless requested by those countries. There seemed to be general agreement with the suggestion of Ambassador Corominas that the Committee “should not go looking for disputes”. It did not seem clear to me, however, that the point was either clearly defined or definitely settled.

There was no discussion as to whether or not the Committee had the right and power to investigate directly the facts bearing on a given conflict.

Dr. Manger was requested by Ambassador Quintanilla to draw up a report of the meeting and said he would do so.

There was no discussion whatsoever of any existing disputes or conflicts between any of the American States at this meeting; and no mention was made of the Dominican initiative and the recently created Dominican committee.

No date was fixed for the next meeting of the Committee.