The United States Representative on the Trusteeship Council (Sayre) to President Truman


My Dear Mr. President: I have the honor to report that the Fifth Session of the United Nations Trusteeship Council met at Lake Success from June 15 to July 22, 1949.1 It was my privilege to participate as United States Representative, as I have at all previous sessions of the Council.

In sharp contrast to the Third and Fourth Sessions, the Fifth Session was marked by a more harmonious spirit. In my letter to you of August 6, 1948,2 following the Third Session of the Council, I reported that the participation of the Soviet Union in the Trusteeship Council had profoundly changed the atmosphere and the character of the Council. At the Third Session, the Soviet Representative attempted to impede the work of the Council by creating a cleavage between the six administering authorities and the six non-administering authorities. As a result, there were 10 tie votes in the Council. At the Fourth Session, the record of the voting shows a further measure of success for this Soviet policy. On 14 votes, the Council evenly divided 6–6 or 5–5, so that continued debate and delay was inevitable and progress for the time being made impossible.

During the Fifth Session, although the Soviet Representative continued to attack the administering authorities for propaganda purposes in the same familiar terms, the other non-administering authorities were inclined less and less to follow his leadership. The [Page 350] record of the Fifth Session shows a marked tendency on the part of the majority of the Council members to isolate the Soviet Representative and refuse to associate themselves with his position. In 71 votes taken during the session, there was a majority of seven or more. It is significant that no tie votes on substantive measures took place. As a result, resolutions were adopted marking substantial progress in several important fields.

The Fifth Session was particularly noteworthy in that the Council for the first time examined a Report by the United States on its administration of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.3 This Report was well received by the Council. Although the Council requested the United States to review certain of the administrative measures adopted in the Trust Territory and suggested that certain new measures be considered, the Council commended the United States for the progress that it has made in the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the inhabitants and for the full nature of the information submitted by the United States. An exception to the favorable tenor of comment by the members of the Council was the consistent adherence by the Soviet Representative to his policy of attack.

May I take this opportunity to say that the representatives of the Department of the Navy in the United States delegation were most cooperative and helpful. In accordance with the Council’s procedures, the Deputy High Commissioner of the Trust Territory sat at the Council table to provide supplementary information during the Council’s examination of the Report on the Trust Territory.

At the opening of the Fifth Session certain measures on the agenda seemed likely to cause debates in the Council so acrimonious as to risk paralyzing the Council and deadening its influence. The United States delegation therefore assumed an active role in conferring privately with leading delegations, initiating negotiations for solutions of some of the outstanding difficulties, and leading the way in securing the passage of constructive resolutions. As a consequence, the Council adopted without bitter dispute a number of forward-looking resolutions which will help to advance the welfare of indigenous inhabitants of the trust territories and to strengthen the international trusteeship system. Another development apparent during the Fifth Session, which augurs well for the increased effectiveness of the Trusteeship Council, is the use of small committees and technical advisers to work on specific problems and to arrive at generally acceptable recommendations.

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It is my hope that the substantial gains made at the Fifth Session of the Council may be preserved, and that the Council may become an increasingly useful part of the United Nations structure. I believe that its effectiveness can be greatly increased if the administering authorities continue to work in the Council with patience and moderation and if the non-administering authorities continue to cooperate in constructive work to advance the welfare of the inhabitants of the trust territories.

Faithfully yours,

Francis B. Sayre
  1. For summary record of meetings, see United Nations, Official Records of the Trusteeship Council, Fifth Session, Plenary Meetings.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For documentation regarding the establishment of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. i, pp. 258 ff.