IO/UNP Files: Lot 59D237, Box 7210, “Membership”

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of United Nations Political Affairs ( Bancroft ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs ( Hickerson )


Subject: Membership Problem

This division has given careful consideration to the membership problem which will face us this year. As you know, it is especially complex because of the new Soviet policy of favoring the admission of twelve or thirteen applicants. This policy will tend to place the USSR in a favorable—and us in an unfavorable—position in the GA; moreover, the withdrawal of Soviet opposition to Italy and other qualified states makes their admission for the first time a practical possibility.

The problem is set forth in some detail in the attached memorandum. A number of possible courses are outlined on pages 5–9. We have not been able to reach conclusions as to the precise course which, in our opinion, ought to be followed. We have, however, reached certain general conclusions.1

We favor a return to our 1946 policy of seeking agreement in order to achieve as close an approximation to universality as possible. We suggest, accordingly, that great power conversations in the very near future should include the membership question. In such talks, we should state in concrete terms the minimum conditions which the Soviet satellite states would, in our view, need to meet in order to [Page 299] qualify for admission to UN membership. We should endeavor to state these standards in as flexible a form as possible. If it should prove impossible, through agreement, for the Soviet satellites to qualify this year and thus to make possible the admission of some 12 or 13 states in all, we should aim toward this as a definite goal by 1950 at the latest.

Pending agreement which will make such action possible, we see little merit in various suggested maneuvers whereby the SC—or one of its members—would abdicate its function of making independent appraisals of the individual applicant states and thus leave the entire decision in the GA. We believe that none of these devices would be understood by the public or result in any substantial advantage in any respect. Obviously a definite move in the direction of universality would have to be carefully prepared in a number of respects, and we believe that this should be done at once.

  1. The 9–page memorandum referred to here (Bancroft to Hickerson, August 19) is not printed. It consisted of 3 main parts: (A) “Background of Question”, (B) “General Considerations”, and (C) “Tactical Problem in the Assembly”. Pages 5–9 were in (C) in a section discussing possible courses of action. The concluding section was headed “Suggested Course”, the main points of which were incorported into the instant memorandum.

    “The drastic Soviet shift of policy on the membership question” had generated intense debate in the Department of State, in the course of which the Bureau of European Affairs gradually assumed a position which dissented from the general tenor of the recommendations set forth in the August 19 paper of UNP (and here) and on certain specific points of the August 19 paper. The essential point of difference between UNP and EUR seemed to be that of whether the concept of universality of UN membership were relevant or needful in the context of the current situation posed by the Soviet proposals. The EUR position clearly seemed to be that, as before, the U.S. position should be to examine each application on its merits; and that this position should not be set aside for any drive toward universality. (These views were set forth by G. Hayden Raynor, United Nations Adviser, Bureau of European Affairs, in two memorandums dated August 9 and September 12, respectively, not printed.)

    Documentation described in this footnote is in Lot 59D237, Box 7210, Folder “Membership”.