IO Files: US/A/M (Chr)/161

Minutes of Twenty-sixth Meeting of the United States Delegation, New York, October 23, 1950, 9:15 a. m.


[Here follows list of persons present (44).]

1. Yugoslav resolutions on “Duties of States in the Event of the Outbreak of Hostilities” and “Establishment of a Permanent Commission of Good Offices” (US/A/C.1/2176)1

Mr. Henkin recalled the Delegation’s previous discussion of this item.2 The purpose of this presentation was to discuss the substance of the item and to seek the views of the Delegation in confirmation of the opinion of the Staff and Senator Lodge that neither of the Yugoslav proposals was acceptable. He drew the Delegation’s attention to [Page 417] document US/A/C.1/2176,3 containing the texts of the two Yugoslav resolutions which, he noted, bore no definite relationship to each other.

The first of the resolutions dealt with the duties of states in the event of an outbreak of hostilities. It provided that if any state were involved in hostilities, it must declare within the first twenty-four hours of fighting that by midnight of the following night it would cease fire and, within the next forty-eight hours, withdraw its troops behind the line of original aggression. The Yugoslavs regarded this resolution as an automatic cease-fire and thought that it would have a certain deterrent effect upon any aggressor. However, they recognized that the resolution, in its present form, would require amendment. There was no provision, for example, for the right of collective self-defense. Neither did the resolution go into the question of aggression in the ordinary sense. The weakness of the resolution lay in the fact that its application was automatic and provisions were oversimplified. If any state failed to do the things provided in the resolution, it was automatically branded as an aggressor in the eyes of the world community. Mr. Henkin considered the resolution constituted an unnecessary and unrewarding excursion into the definition of aggression since it constituted only a partial attempt to define this term and did not take enough of the factors involved into account. He believed the resolution would require radical revision. Even then, there was a real question as to whether it would serve any purpose. Also, it would not appear to assist Yugoslavia materially in its own situation.4

Turning to the second resolution, establishing a sort of good offices committee, Mr. Henkin explained that this resolution would provide for conciliation services in any case. The Yugoslav assumption was that such a body could act more speedily and secretly than existing agencies. The proposal had some advantages because the proposed commission could get into cases before they reached a state of tension which would bring them to the Assembly, for example, the commission would be authorized to attempt to conciliate positive sore points in advance. Mr. Henkin referred to other proposals for conciliation bodies which had been made in the United Nations, such as that [Page 418] proposed by Lebanon in 1948 and still pending before the Interim Committee. If the General Assembly should consider the Yugoslav proposal, he believed it should be referred to the Interim Committee for consideration along with other matters on conciliation. If the Assembly were to consider it directly, it would be a slap at the work of the Interim Committee. On the merits there were certain objections to the proposal. There were both legal and political questions with respect to letting this body take up cases on its own initiative. It was also to be authorized to deal with matters already on the agenda of the Security Council and with which the latter was dealing actively; this provision seemed to violate Article 12 of the Charter.

Summing up, Mr. Henkin said that the staff could not recommend that the Delegation support either proposal. The first had no merit at all; it was not likely to receive support from anyone else. He hoped the Committee would simply recommend that no action be taken. If the Yugoslavs wanted something slightly better than this, we could go along with postponing the item to the next Assembly. On the next Assembly agenda there would be the declaration on the rights and duties of states, and this matter could logically be considered in connection with that item. As to the second proposal, if it were passed, the only thing which could be done would be to refer it to the Interim Committee in connection with the Lebanese conciliation proposal.

[Here follows inconclusive discussion of the question of sponsorship of the proposed substitute resolution.]

Mr. Hyde agreed with Mr. Henkin’s recommendation. He believed no useful purpose would be served by putting the Yugoslav resolution into the Interim Committee, but there was a related proposal there, and there was no real reason why they should not be taken together. The Lebanese, proposal, as a matter of fact, had the same legal and political difficulties since it really proposed to create a new organ of the United Nations. Possibly we could isolate the real idea that somehow or other some United Nations organ could concern itself with tension in an area before it reached the action stage. Mrs. Roosevelt asked whether our own “Uniting for Peace” proposal did not cover this idea in establishment of the Peace Observation Commission. Mr. Hyde agreed that it did and regarded it as a far sounder approach. Senator Lodge asked whether the Peace Observation Commission could go where it wanted to without direction. Mrs. Roosevelt replied that authorization from the appropriate United Nations organ was necessary.

Senator Lodge believed that Mr. Bebler deceived himself when he thought that any conciliation activity was possible on a secret basis. Mrs. Roosevelt agreed that Mr. Bebler was quite unrealistic. Mr. Henkin suggested that we could tell Mr. Bebler our “Uniting for Peace” proposal had carried out all these things more effectively. He [Page 419] noted that the Yugoslavs expected us to approve their ideas and then carry the ball for them. He was never quite clear as to what they had in mind in introducing the resolutions in the first place—probably conciliation between the Comintern and Yugoslavia. He felt that their real interest was in getting the Comintern branded, rather than in conciliation.

Mrs. Roosevelt referred to a visit she had had with Mr. Bebler last summer. At that time he had thought troops were being massed on the Bulgarian border and that Yugoslavia would be accused of preparing for war. He had been very much worried that such a charge would be believed and had wanted people to come from all over to verify the fact that Yugoslavia was not actually preparing for war. He had asked her to inquire of several prominent Americans whether, if they were invited, they would come to Yugoslavia under this circumstance. However, in the end the Yugoslavs bad invited no one. Mrs. Roosevelt agreed that Yugoslavia did not expect any better understanding with the Comintern but simply wanted to see Russia branded as the aggressor. She thought the Delegation should remember how vitriolic a voice Bebler used to be against us.

Senator Lodge said that he would see Mr. Bebler this afternoon. He wondered whether he could say to him that the United States, as a member of the Peace Observation Commission, would take a special interest in seeing that aggression against Yugoslavia was recognized as such. Mrs. Roosevelt believed that what would probably allay Bebler’s fears most would be the presence of neutral observers in his country to affirm that Yugoslavia had undertaken no preparation for a war. Mr. Henkin pointed out that Yugoslavia would have to invite the representatives of such a Commission to come. He was sure, if such an invitation were issued, that a group would be sent, since this was an area of tension.

[Here follows discussion of other agenda items.]

  1. For texts of the two draft resolutions, see GA (V), Annexes, vol. ii, fascicules 72 and 73, respectively.
  2. This occurred at the delegation meeting on October 20 but only peripherally in connection with discussion of the Soviet peace declaration item (minutes of 25th Meeting, IO Files, Doc. US/A/M (Chr)/160).
  3. Not printed. Most of its substance is covered here by Mr. Louis Henkin and much of its language is repeated verbatim. Neither this position paper nor the delegation discussion seemed to reflect a concern of the Department of State, set forth in telegram Gadel 21, October 2, 7 p. m. (320/10–2550), at the time the two Yugoslav resolutions were inscribed on the agenda of the General Assembly: “Dept anxious however encourage constructive Yugoslav efforts in UN and desires find device for disposing resolution while indicating US has given sympathetic consideration Yugoslav views and objectives.”
  4. A reference to the sharpening conflict between Yugoslavia and the states of the Cominform. Documentation regarding U.S. policy relating to this subject is scheduled for publication in volume iv.