310/10–1850: telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Secretary of State


695. Personal for the Secretary from Austin. As you know from discussions at GA Del meetings when you were in New York, the problem presented by the exclusion from the UN hdqrs of aliens coming on UN business has caused us serious difficulties and embarrassment, politically and in the public relations and propaganda fields.

In this connection I understand that the Department is now formulating a position concerning the effect of the Internal Security Act of 1950 on the UN hdqrs agreement, and specifically concerning the application of that act to the transit to and from the UN hdqrs district of aliens covered by Section 11 of the hdqrs agreement.

Since there appears to be some possibility that the Internal Security Act might be interpreted as affecting the hdqrs agreement, I wish to bring to your attention my views concerning the matter, speaking not only as the representative of the US to the UN, but also as an American interested in the security of this country.

For the following reasons I strongly urge an interpretation that the hdqrs agreement is not affected by the new act.

Although I am not fully advised concerning the legislative history of the Internal Security Act, I understand that it does not disclose an intention of Congress to affect US obligations under the hdqrs agreement. I note further that, although the act deals with the “general area” involving the entry and deportation of aliens connected with international organizations, it does not in terms purport to amend or repeal PL 3571–80th Congress or to implement the Section 6 reservation [Page 76] of that law (which has never been accepted by UN).2 Accordingly, I believe a sound legal argument can be made that the act merely amends the general immigration laws which, by virtue of Section 13 of the hdqrs agreement, are ineffective to interfere with the privileges of transit conferred by Section 11 of that agreement. Effect can be given to the provisions of the Internal Security Act relating to the issuance of Section 3(7) visas and to the entry or exclusion of representatives of foreign governments in or to international organizations, by applying these provisions to employees, representatives, et cetera, of or to international organizations other than UN. It is not unreasonable to assume that Congress intended to differentiate between UN, toward which US has “treaty” obligations of the hdqrs agreement, and other international organizations toward which US has no such obligations.

In view of the fact that the language of the Internal Security Act may permit differing legal interpretations concerning its effect on the hdqrs agreement, I suggest that the determining factor in adopting a particular interpretation be its effect on the position of the US vis-à-vis UN and member governments.

An interpretation of the act as affecting the hdqrs agreement and restricting access to the hdqrs district would place the US in the wholly untenable position of vitiating its agreement with UN. Every means should be taken to avoid such a position at the moment when the US is most closely identified with UN and is seeking to bolster the prestige of UN as the principal basis for world peace. You will recall several attacks made in GA committees in the past few weeks concerning the failure of the US to admit aliens coming to UN. In addition, a number of friendly dels have informally expressed concern regarding US restrictive policies as applied to UN. An interpretation of the Internal Security Act as affecting the hdqrs agreement would provide a field day for Eastern European representatives and, in my opinion, seriously embarrass our GA Del, especially in connection with such items as human rights and freedom of information.

UN Legal Department (Feller) has expressed the opinion that UN will officially protest any application of the Internal Security Act in derogation of the hdqrs agreement. I am unable to conceive how [Page 77] such a protest could be handled in a manner which would avoid serious consequences in public relations and propaganda fields.

Finally, I believe that administrative difficulties arising from an attempt to apply the Internal Security Act to persons covered by Section 11 of the hdqrs agreement will result in continuous confusion and delay, with resulting ill feeling on the part of UN and foreign dels toward US.

I strongly recommend that the Department seek the concurrence of the Attorney General in the position that the provisions of the Internal Security Act are not applicable to persons covered by Section 11 of the hdqrs agreement. At the same time, speaking as an American and considering the obvious intent of Congress to safeguard the security of the US, I recommend that the Department make every effort to ensure that this Government maintains adequate machinery to prevent persons admitted to the US under the provisions of the hdqrs agreement from endangering our national security.

  1. That is, the Headquarters Agreement.
  2. There were two annexes to the Headquarters Agreement, and the Section 6 reservation occurs in Annex 2. It provided that “Nothing in the agreement shall be construed as in any way diminishing, abridging, or weakening the right of the United States to safeguard its own security and completely to control the entrance of aliens into any territory of the United States other than the headquarters district and its immediate vicinity.” The reservation further provided that nothing in the agreement “shall be construed to amend or suspend in any way the immigration laws of the United States or to commit the United States in any way to effect any amendment or suspension of such laws.” (61 Stat. 767, 768) For information regarding the legislative background of this section, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. i, p. 45.