501.BC/3–449: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Mission at the United Nations, at New York


153. Dept has now decided to invoke Peace Treaty procedures against Hung, Bulg and Rumania for violation of human rights provisions and is consulting with other signatories with view to parallel or joint action. Without prejudice to possible UN action in future, Dept concluded that at this time US shd not initiate any steps in UN feeling that at least initially or by itself UN action would not have desired effect in Eastern Europe. We have thought and continue to think stronger UN action, if later determined to be desirable, would be possible following the conclusion of, a breakdown of, or at some stage of the implementation of the treaty machinery.

[Page 237]

Pls communicate above to Cuban SC rep1 along with following views relevant to his memo (urtel 268, Mar 42) without asking hint not to raise issue in UN:

1. Dept is grateful for opportunity to study and comment on Cuban memo and give its views. US people and Govt, like Cubans, are profoundly disturbed by attacks against human rights in satellite countries and impressed by necessity to take action. Problem is to take steps most likely to advance cause of freedom in Eastern Europe and interests of UN. After full study we have concluded that Treaty procedure constitutes best approach at present time. In decision to resort to unprecedented invocation of satellite Treaties we have been motivated by following

This procedure offers quasi-judicial proceeding designed to obtain “definitive and binding decision” of disputes pertaining to interpretation and execution of Treaties;
As party to dispute arising out of satellite violations we feel bound under Art 33 of Charter to invoke Treaty procedures prior to considering reference to UN. We propose to announce institution of this procedure promptly and certainly before opening of GA.3 We believe that general reaction in UN might well be that in accordance with spirit of Art 33 procedures outside UN should be given full opportunity prior to any UN action and that broader support could be obtained for UN action if necessary, following utilization of Treaty procedure.
None of the three delinquent countries are Members of UN and therefore they are not bound by Charter provisions. On other hand they are bound by Treaties. They might refuse any invitation to appear before UN and answer charges, thus raising question whether UN action should be attempted without first hearing case of defendant countries.
UN forum would offer satellites or their friends opportunity to obscure charges of human rights suppression by irrelevant and false counter-charges against other Members which would not be possible in Treaty procedure where issues are confined to obligations of three countries.
Only beneficial result of UN proceeding at this time would be airing of issues with strong expression of condemnation which would put Members on record and demonstrate their sustained interest in fate of Eastern Europe. An airing of issues could perhaps be obtained through periodic release of documents relating to Treaty procedure which no doubt would extend over long period of time and perhaps through governmental statements outside of UN (see e.g., Statement of SecState, Feb 9, 19494).
[Page 238]

2. In event Latin Amer Dels decide air issue in UN we recognize it could be done under cloak membership discussion SC, pursuant GA Swedish res of last fall requesting SC reconsider all applications.5 Reconsideration might result simply in failure of satellite applications to receive requisite number of votes. Beyond that any stronger action would almost certainly be vetoed. We do not believe repetition of failure to obtain sufficient votes, which has happened several times previously, could be considered effective or persuasive UN action.

3. Hence we believe GA preferable to SC as UN forum for this subject particularly since it will reconvene shortly, although we had hoped that no additional item would be submitted for Apr session. GA consideration of such new item would no doubt require prolonged discussion. Of possible alternative courses of action in GA we believe preferable procedure would be to bring matter as situation under Art 14 with view to obtaining condemnatory res coupled perhaps with approving reference to Treaty procedure. This course would not appear to conflict with Treaty procedure.

4. If you believe principal Latin Amer objective is merely to record their views, you could point out to them that in course of debate on several subjects in Apr GA opportunity for speeches on this subject could be found and that their Govts could also issue statements simultaneously with publication of our complaints against satellite Govts under Treaty machinery.

5. We consider particularly undesirable raising violation issues in ECOSOC, Human Rights Comm and SC under heading other than Membership. If case brought in SC under Art 35 (para II(3) (a) urtel 268, Mar 4) any substantive action would be vetoed which would dramatize again inability of SC to take effective action. This course particularly undesirable because we wish to avoid another Czech case.

6. We also consider undesirable UN Comm investigation concurrent with investigation by Treaty Comm. We further believe consideration of UN sanctions at this time impracticable.

7. If you are convinced that Latin Amers are determined to raise question in UN as separate item, you could suggest as another variation they consider possibility placing matter on Apr GA agenda and in Gen Comm make their statements and, at same time, request that in view of Treaty machinery action initiated by US, consideration this question by Assembly be deferred.

8. Pls also discuss this matter in detail with Muniz,6 of Brazil, and in your discretion, with other interested Latin Amer dels keeping always in mind that objective is not to dissuade them from taking matter to UN if they genuinely believe this is desirable but to make suggestions in response to their request as to preferable organ and procedure and to explain why we ourselves are not initiating UN action at this time in view of our feeling UN course might better be held [Page 239] in reserve for later date when UN action might be stronger and have greater effect, and for other reasons cited above.7

  1. Alberto Alvarez, Cuban Representative to the United Nations Security Council and Permanent Cuban Representative at the United Nations.
  2. Not printed; it transmitted the text of a proposed memorandum aimed at securing in the Security Council the condemnation of the imprisonment of Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty and other cases of religious persecution in Eastern Europe (501.BC/3–449).
  3. The Second Part of the Third Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly was held at Lake Success and Flushing Meadow, New York, April 5–May 18, 1949.
  4. Post, p. 461.
  5. For documentation on the policy of the United States with respect to the admittance of new members into the United Nations, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 1, pp. 173 ff.
  6. Joao Carlos Muniz, Brazilian Permanent Representative at the United Nations.
  7. Telegram 313, March 11, from the U.S. Mission at New York, not printed, reported that both Cuban Representative Alvarez and Brazilian Representative Muniz had been informed along the lines set forth in this message. Alvarez told the U.S. Mission that he was preparing a new plan which aimed at securing condemnation of human rights violations in Bulgaria and Hungary in connection with the application of those two states for membership in the United Nations (501.BC/3–1149).