Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Special Inter-American Affairs (Dreier)


Subject: Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Methods for Peaceful Solution of Conflicts

All the members of the Committee, including Ambassador Belt, were present, with Quintanilla in the Chair. Belt arrived a few minutes late.

Just as the four members were sitting down to start work, Salazar (Dominican Republic) came in to inform the Committee that his Government, pursuant to its obligation under Article 54 of the UN Charter had informed the Security Council of its initiative in bringing its complaint against Cuba to the Committee’s attention. Salazar then left, no member of the Committee having commented on his statement. However, Corominas (Argentina), as soon as Salazar had left, expressed his regret that the Dominican Government had done this and questioned whether it was necessary. There followed a debate on Article 54 which does not stipulate whether the individual states, or the regional organization, should inform the Security Council of steps taken through regional arrangements to settle international disputes. Dr. Fenwick1 was asked to look into this subject and report to the Committee at a later meeting.

Belt (Cuba) arrived at this point and Quintanilla asked him whether he desired to start right in with the consideration of regulations or whether, before the formal session of the Committee opened, Belt might wish to say a few words on a friendly and entirely informal basis. Belt then expressed some doubt as to whether he actually was accredited as a member of the Committee but proceeded to express a very conciliatory and calm point of view toward the Dominicans. He reported that through the arrangements made by Ambassador Corominas he had met with the Dominican Mission the previous afternoon and had had very friendly discussions with them. He said he felt confident that the case brought by the Dominicans to the Committee could and should be settled bilaterally by agreement between two governments.

The meeting then turned its attention to the regulations; the following being the principal points discussed or decided.

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3. Quintanilla brought up the question of the position of a government which was at one time a member of the Committee and a party to a dispute. He suggested that in such a case the government’s representative [Page 186]should abstain from participation as a member of the Committee; Ambassador Belt argued that a member should be permitted to continue to serve on the Committee but without a vote. After considerable discussion it was decided to accept the procedure followed in the Security Council whereby a member of the Committee involved in a dispute continues to” sit on the Committee but without a vote while any other parties to a dispute are also allowed to sit with the Committee with a voice but not a vote, thus assuring equal treatment to all parties.

(Article 4. “… Cuando uno de los miembros de la comisión fuere [sic] nacional de una de las Partes, se abstendrá de votar, y se concederá a la otra o otras Partes derecho de voz en las reuniones de la comisión”.)

4. Ambassador Belt strongly urged that the Committee be required first to determine whether a conflict existed before suggesting any methods or procedures for resolving it. Corominas (Argentina) and Correa da Costa (Brazil) opposed this. I also opposed it on grounds that it was a semi-judicial action which the Committee was hardly competent to take. The problem was finally resolved by revising the language of the appropriate article of the regulations to make clear that the Committee would suggest methods and procedures for the solution of conflicts only “si estima conveniente”. …

John C. Dreier
  1. Charles Fenwick, Director of the Department of International Law and Organization of the Pan American Union.