320/11–2050: Telegram

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


Delga 345.…

[Here follows résumé of decisions by the United States Delegation at its meeting on November 29, on two prior agenda items.]

3. Treatment of Indians in the Union of South Africa:

It was noted that this item would arise during plenary sessions beginning December 1. Developments in ad hoc political committee leading up to adoption resolution described. It was explained that, following US abstention on paragraph 4 preamble and US negative vote on final clause operative paragraph 3, after these two provisions adopted, US had abstained in vote on resolution as a whole. Position outlined plenary brief (US/A/2909),1 maintaining position US had taken in committee, presented to del for approval. It was noted this would mean abstention in event either two above provisions included, and otherwise affirmative vote.

Cohen expressed view US should vote for resolution regardless of inclusion these two paragraphs inasmuch as (a) US did not differ with assertion in paragraph 4 preamble but simply doubted effectiveness and relevance its inclusion; and (b) implementation of Group Areas Act would obviously prejudice negotiations between parties so that only ground on which US could even go so far as abstention [Page 574] was that such provision was unnecessary. Mrs. Sampson concurred in these views. She stated ambiguous position this resolution would put US in disrepute with colored peoples of world and display exactly the kind of weakness on racial issue of which Soviets already made unceasing propaganda capital. On other hand affirmative position would bring US positive credit throughout Asia.

Staff pointed out recommended US position was based upon belief that resolution including these two paragraphs would achieve nothing and upon fact that US support of resolution with such provisions would probably result in loss our present constructive influence on Union. Moreover, US would explain abstention, indicating its agreement with both disputed provisions but emphasizing belief they were not relevant to purpose of resolution. Others took view that since resolution likely to carry despite US position and was basically satisfactory, US should support resolution as means of using influence to encourage Union in negotiations with parties; US abstention might give Union ground to argue that, since powerful member UN had not supported resolution, it need not carry out GA recommendation. Distinction was drawn between position in committee and in plenary where it was unquestionably this resolution or nothing, with result abstention could only put US in awkward position.

Sparkman believed that original delegation decision on this item had been made on grounds that it was important not to antagonize Union and that moderate course presented best and only means for progress. Since UN had no coercive authority, it was important to proceed gradually, particularly in cases of this kind where national sovereignty was directly involved. Just such considerations lay behind position of Congress on Genocide Convention and Human Rights Covenant. For this reason he considered it unwise to attempt to force a resolution upon Union which could not be expected to obtain constructive results.

Cooper thought either abstention or negative vote on two paragraphs in question would be interpreted as indication US opposition to provisions and consequently supported inclusion both paragraphs.

Mrs. Roosevelt felt that if US must explain vote in terms proposed by staff, position was somehow wrong when we stated resolution represented position for which we stood but nevertheless abstained. She believed Department should be consulted on basis of views expressed during meeting and requested to weigh carefully the intrinsic values on both sides, both at home, and in our relations with Asian peoples, which, at this moment, were vastly more important than had been case even last week. Del agreed Department should be consulted in this sense.

Austin, Lodge, Dulles, Gross and Ross were not present at meeting.

  1. Not printed.