740.0011 EW (Peace)/3–849

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Thompson) to the Secretary of State 1



In connection with recent religious persecution particularly in Hungary and Bulgaria, we have been exploring the desirability of action in regard to violations of the human rights provisions of the peace treaties with Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria. There is a growing demand in this country and abroad that action be taken in the United Nations in this connection. Various Latin American states are anxious to raise the matter in the United Nations and Cuba has circulated a memorandum in that regard.2

The peace treaties provide machinery for the settlement of disputes involving violations of the treaty provisions. That procedure calls for initial direct diplomatic negotiations, to be followed by reference to the Heads of the Diplomatic Missions of the US, UK and USSR in the respective countries and the subsequent establishment of Commissions with neutral members appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations.

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The Canadian Government has expressed a desire to associate itself with us or take parallel action.3 The British Government has not taken a final position but has misgivings that invocation of the treaty procedure might prejudice economic negotiations Britain contemplates with the three countries and might possibly lead those countries to break diplomatic relations with us.


It is our feeling that it is important to invoke the treaty machinery at this time. We believe that we should make every effort to call the Hungarian, Rumanian and Bulgarian Governments to account for their flagrant violation of their treaty obligations in regard to human rights and that such course will usefully serve to continue pressure indirectly on the Soviet Union through the three satellites. Invocation of the treaty procedure also seems to us to be a logical step prior to any United Nations action.

The principal British doubt concerning the treaty process does not appear valid. It seems unrealistic to suggest that the degree of cordiality of relations would materially effect the willingness of the satellites to trade, such a decision being more likely determined on a basis of strict economic advantage.

It is probable that a decision on our part to proceed unilaterally, or with Canada and any other like-minded countries, might persuade the British to join with us. In any case, we feel that the United States should take this course with such other nations as are prepared to join us whether the British do so or not.

If taken, our intial approach should preferably precede the General Assembly meeting on April 1st and consequently a decision should be made expeditiously.

As we envisage it, the treaty machinery would work out as follows. On approximately March 20 we would address communications to the Hungarian, Rumanian and Bulgarian Governments complaining against their violations of the various human rights provisions of the peace treaties. In the absence of a satisfactory reply in a reasonable period, we would request convocation of the three Chiefs of Mission in each country to consider the situation. The Russians would no doubt decline to participate and, following the two months provided in the treaties, we would then appoint Commissioners and ask the three governments to make similar appointments. After one month, as provided in the treaties, we would ask the Secretary General of the United Nations to appoint third members of the Commissions.

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It may be noted that, should we desire to do so, we could presumably avail ourselves of Hungarian, Rumanian, and Bulgarian obstructionism at any of several points in this process to justify removing the case to the United Nations, on the grounds that we had exhausted the treaty remedies without avail.

A telegram to London indicating our decision to invoke the treaty procedure either in conjunction with other powers or unilaterally, should that be necessary, is attached.4


It is recommended that you approve this course of action and sign the attached telegram to that effect.


Draft telegram to London.

  1. The source text bears handwritten concurrences by Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs Dean Rusk and by the Counselor of the Department of State, Charles E. Bohlen.
  2. The text of the memorandum under reference here was transmitted to the Department in telegram 268, March 4, from the United States Delegation at the United Nations in New York, not printed (501.BC/3–449).
  3. The views of the Canadian Government were made known in a telephone conversation of February 15 between George Magann, Counselor of the Canadian Embassy, and Walworth Barbour, Chief of the Division of Southeast European Affairs (memorandum of telephone conversation, by Barbour, February 15: 740.0011 EW (Peace)/2–1549).
  4. For the text of the message transmitted to London, presumably following Secretary Acheson’s approval, see telegram 796 to London, infra.