Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)1


Subject: Should Representatives to the United Nations from Iron-Curtain Countries Be Permitted To Travel Freely Throughout the United States.

I am profoundly disturbed by the suggestion contained in Mr. Rusk’s memorandum of April 242 that representatives to the United [Page 55] Nations of Iron-Curtain countries should be confined to the United Nations headquarters district and its immediate vicinity.

The argument of Mr. Sandifer’s memorandum of March 6 to Mr. Rusk,3 opposing the imposition of such restrictions upon any Chinese Communist representatives to the United Nations would of course apply with even greater force to Mr. Rusk’s present suggestion; there is no need to repeat the substance of that memorandum. This new proposal, however, goes much deeper and cuts at the very basis of the status of the United Nations in this country.

When the President of the United States, and the Congress by unanimous resolution, invited the United Nations to establish its headquarters in this country, it was not offering the United Nations the opportunity to be isolated on a landlocked island in a small corner of this country. The United States offered, and the members of the United Nations believed that they accepted, the hospitality of the country with full freedom to use the facilities of this country. The right reserved to the United States to confine people to the United Nations headquarters district and its immediate vicinity was reluctantly agreed to by the United Nations, and it was assumed that this power would be used only in rare cases, where essential to United States security, and never against delegation and secretariat personnel.

The proposal to confine Iron-Curtain representatives on any but obvious security grounds implies the right, and latent threat, to confine personnel of any delegation if we see fit. This view of their status hi the United States would be patently unacceptable to delegations generally, and would be vigorously resisted and denounced not merely by the Soviet Union and its satellites but by the Latin American countries, and very likely by the delegations of our Western friends. Almost certainly, some delegation will introduce in the Assembly a resolution to move the United Nations headquarters to a country able and willing to offer greater hospitality, and more dependable to live up to the spirit of its obligations as host.

I urge strongly that the entire matter be dropped.

  1. Addressed to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Rusk).
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.