320/8–450: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1


This is the first of several communications designed to initiate a preliminary exchange of views with certain Governments with respect to some of the important items which will be considered at the fifth regular session of the United Nations General Assembly. You are requested, in your discretion, to outline our views on these matters [Page 11] to the Government to which you are accredited, to seek its views and report any relevant information forthwith. Except as indicated, you should stress that our views are tentative, and that we are seeking reactions and suggestions which we will take into account insofar as possible in the formulation of our final positions.

Forthcoming communications will deal with other important items on the Assembly’s agenda. Two copies of the provisional agenda, which was issued by the Secretary-General on July 21, are attached.2

For detailed background information with respect to previous action in the United Nations on these subjects, it is suggested that you consult the annual reports of the President to Congress on US participation in the UN.

It is requested that you watch for and report any significant diplomatic activity by other countries on GA agenda items. In addition, the Department would be interested in ascertaining as soon as possible the composition of the GA Delegation of the Government to which you are accredited, together with any biographic information which has not already been reported.

1. Korea

The Department is considering various proposals which the forthcoming GA might appropriately adopt as a result of the unprovoked attack against the Republic of Korea by North Korean forces. These proposals might among other things be directed toward the general problem of effective UN action in connection with aggression and specifically toward the role of the General Assembly in this connection. When the Department’s ideas are further matured we will wish to consult with other UN Members either in New York or in the field. You are requested in the meantime to report any concrete suggestions on this subject which may be volunteered in your consultations with the Foreign Office.

2. Council States

Security Council

The US has decided to support Turkey and the Netherlands to succeed Egypt and Norway, respectively. The term of Cuba also expires. The choice of the Latin American caucus will undoubtedly have an important bearing in filling this vacancy. The US favors Brazil for this post.

Economic and Social Council

The terms of the following states expire: UK, USSR, Australia, Brazil, Denmark and Poland. The US views on the ECOSOC slate will be communicated to you in the near future.

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Trusteeship Council

The terms of the Philippines and the Dominican Republic expire. The US views on the TC slate will be communicated to you in the near future.

3. Presidency of the Fifth GA

Since previous GA presidents have come from Western Europe, Latin America, British Commonwealth and Far East, the Department considers it appropriate that the President this year should come from the Middle East, and accordingly favors a candidate from this area. Nasrollah Entezam (Iran) and Sir Zafrullah Khan (Pakistan) appear to be the two leading candidates. (We are informed that Charles Malik (Lebanon) is also a candidate but he does not appear to have much support.) The Department regards both Entezam and Zafrullah as highly qualified and has not yet decided which it will support. Therefore, the Department is interested in ascertaining the strength of support for each candidate and would appreciate any information regarding commitments to support either candidate.

4. Observance of Human Rights in Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania

In dealing with charges of violations of human rights in Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania in its third and fourth sessions, the GA directed its efforts toward encouraging examination and settlement of these charges through procedures provided in the peace treaties with these countries. Under the peace treaties, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania accepted the obligation to ensure enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms to all persons under their jurisdiction and also to settle any disputes arising under the treaties through certain proceedings, including arbitration before treaty commissions. The three satellite governments denied the charges that they violated human rights and claimed that the charges did not give rise to disputes under the peace treaties and were not subject to arbitration since they involved matters within their domestic jurisdiction. They claimed further that the GA had no jurisdiction to consider the charges and refused to participate in the GA proceedings as well as in the arbitration under the peace treaties.

Under these circumstances, the Assembly last fall expressed its increased concern; stated its opinion that refusal of the three governments to cooperate in its efforts to examine the charges justified this concern about the state of affairs in the three countries; and requested the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on four legal questions relating to the peace treaty proceedings.

Pursuant to this request, the International Court advised that disputes existed and that the three governments were obligated to submit [Page 13] to arbitration under the peace treaties and to appoint their representatives to the treaty arbitration commissions. Despite this Court opinion, however, the three governments persisted in their refusal to appoint their representatives and submit to the peace treaty proceedings. The Court then advised that this refusal made impossible further resort in this instance to settlement through peace treaty procedures.

When the matter comes before its forthcoming session, the General Assembly will have to explore avenues other than the peace treaty procedures for dealing with the charges. At least three courses of action would be possible:

Adoption of a resolution which would condemn the satellite states for failing to cooperate with the Assembly, for ignoring the opinion of the International Court and for violating their obligations to utilize peace treaty proceedings for the settlement of disputes. The resolution might also indicate that this attitude of non-cooperation casts serious doubt on the denial by the states of the charges made against them. Further the resolution might call upon interested Members, particularly parties to the peace treaties, to submit to the Secretary-General and to all UN Members evidence to support the charges; this material would then become available to world public opinion.
Appointment of a GA Committee (as proposed by Australia at the last GA) which would sit in New York and examine the substance of the charges on the basis of evidence to be submitted by Members and which would report to the sixth Assembly session at which time the GA could record its opinion on the basis of the Committee’s report.
Provision for inquiry into the substance of the charges by an expert commission composed of eminent jurists or other qualified individuals who would (as in (b) above) report to the sixth Assembly.

The Department has assembled a wealth of material supporting the charges of systematic and brutal suppression of basic human rights in the three countries and is determined to bring these facts to the attention of world public opinion in one form or another. In any case we plan to publish an exhaustive official document containing evidence to support our charges against the three governments.

The Department would be interested in the reaction of the Government to which you are accredited to the possible courses of action outlined above or suggestions for other methods of dealing with the matter.

5. Treatment of Indians in the Union of South Africa

This question has been before the GA since 1946. In the last resolution of the Assembly on this subject (May 14, 1949), the Governments of India, Pakistan and the Union of South Africa were invited to enter into discussions of the issue at a round table conference taking [Page 14] into consideration the purposes and principles of the Charter and the Declaration on Human Rights. On the initiative of the Indian Government, preliminary talks were opened by the three governments in Capetown (February 1950) in which the agenda for a round table conference was agreed upon. Subsequently, the Governments of India and Pakistan requested the Government of the Union of South Africa to postpone, pending the round table conference, the adoption of certain executive and legislative measures which they alleged added to discriminations against Indians in South Africa. (Foremost among these was the Group Areas Bill providing for further segregation of racial groups in South Africa.) The Union Government did not (accede to this request for postponement and as a result the Government of India, in June 1950, announced that it would not participate in the round table conference and requested the Secretary-General to place the matter on the agenda of the General Assembly, with the request that the United Nations take steps to ensure that the treatment of Indians in South Africa conform to the Purposes and principles of the Charter and to the Declaration on Human Rights.

The Department is actively considering its position for the Assembly on this matter but has no tentative views or possible courses of action to communicate at this time. In your discretion, you may indicate that we would appreciate views of other governments as to possible lines of GA action.

6. Jerusalem

Pursuant to the GA resolution of December 9, 1949, the Trusteeship Council, during its sixth session (January 19–April 4, 1950) completed and approved the statute for Jerusalem. (For background on GA resolution and US position see President’s report for 1949, pp. 4345.) Although the Trusteeship Council had been directed by the Assembly to proceed to the implementation of the statute, it decided, in view of the opposition of both Jordan and Israel, to submit the statute to them for their comments. At the seventh session of the Council (June 1–July 21, 1950) Israel submitted a new proposal envisioning UN jurisdiction over the Holy Places in Jerusalem, and Jordan made no reply whatsoever. The Council deemed it impracticable to attempt to proceed to implementation of the Statute for Jerusalem, prepared a report for the General Assembly describing what had been done, and included the new Israeli proposal. During the discussion in the Trusteeship Council the US Delegation made it clear that it was collaborating as a Member of the Council to enable it to perform the tasks given to it by the General Assembly of completing and adopting a Statute for Jerusalem. During the current year the Soviet Union has notified the Secretary-General that it no longer supports [Page 15] an international regime along the lines of last year’s resolution. It is to be noted in this connection that decisions by the Assembly on the Jerusalem question require a two-thirds vote and the vote on last year’s resolution was 38–14, with the Soviet bloc voting in the affirmative.

In developing the US position for the Assembly, the Department would appreciate the views of other governments regarding possible lines of GA action. The United States has always favored some reasonable form of internationalization for Jerusalem and wishes to encourage such a solution as would be acceptable to Israel and Jordan and which would meet with a considerable degree of concurrence by the world community.

7. Draft Trusteeship Agreement for Somaliland

The United States will support the adoption of the draft trusteeship agreement for Somaliland which was approved by the Trusteeship Council at its sixth session (January 27, 1950). In view of the thorough study and debate accorded this matter by the Council and of the unanimous approval of the agreement by the Council and the Italian Government, it is our view that the General Assembly should approve the agreement without change.

8. Greece

In its annual report, which has just been signed, UNSCOB has made the following observations: (a) the threat to the political independence and territorial integrity of Greece has been altered in character as a consequence of the elimination of large-scale guerrilla activity along the northern frontiers of Greece, but a potential threat still remains in view of the attitude of certain countries north of Greece, and the presence within the borders of these states, chiefly in Bulgaria, of large numbers of Greek guerrillas; (b) normal diplomatic and good neighborly relations between Greece on the one hand and Albania and Bulgaria on the other do not exist; (c) nothing has been done by various countries of Eastern Europe toward repatriation of Greek nationals, disarming and disposition of Greek guerrillas, or release from detention of soldiers of the Greek National Army captured by the guerrillas and removed by them to countries north of Greece; (d) it is a matter of the most grave concern that no Greek children have yet been repatriated to their homes, despite the unanimous passage by the General Assembly of two resolutions calling for such repatriation; and (e) the vigilance of the UN with respect to the preservation of the political independence and territorial integrity of Greece has been, and remains, a significant factor in limiting [Page 16] the nature and extent of the aggression against Greece and has contributed to the improved situation along the northern frontiers.

Further we understand that UNSCOB has recommended that the GA consider the advisability of maintaining an appropriate UN agency in Greece in the light of the current international situation and of conditions prevailing along the northern frontiers of Greece; that it take further steps along the lines of previous resolutions with a view to forestalling a renewal of hostilities along the northern frontiers of Greece; that it call upon states concerned to facilitate the peaceful repatriation to Greece of Greek nationals; and that in particular it make a further effort to find some means of restoring the displaced Greek children to their homes.

The US Delegation in the Assembly will support the adoption of action along the lines of UNSOOB’s recommendations, including the maintenance of the Commission and the adoption of measures to expedite the return of the Greek children. In this connection it may be noted that the Korean experience has demonstrated the usefulness of having UN Commissions in sensitive areas.

9. Draft Declaration on the Rights and Duties of States

After exhaustive discussion at its last session, the GA noted the draft declaration prepared by the ILC, deemed it a notable contribution toward the progressive development of international law and commended it to the continuing attention of Member states and jurists of all nations. In addition, the Assembly transmitted the declaration to Member States for comments and suggestions, and for views as to whether further action should be taken on the matter by the GA, and, if so, the exact nature of the document to be aimed at and the future procedure to be adopted in relation to it.

The Department’s tentative view is that the GA might appropriately defer further consideration of the draft declaration until its sixth session (September, 1951). The Secretary-General will probably not be able to publish and distribute the comments of governments sufficiently in advance of the session to enable all Governments to examine adequately the various suggestions which have been submitted. In addition, it is doubtful that any Delegation will be able to give these comments sufficient consideration during the session in view of the conditions of crisis under which the Assembly will meet, the number of urgent items on the agenda, and the number of detailed matters to be considered (including such questions as the Human Rights Covenant, and the ILC report on codification of the Nürnberg principles).

  1. Sent to the United States Mission at the United Nations (USUN) and to the United States Embassies and Legations located in 52 of the member states of the United Nations, for action; sent also to the Embassies in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Poland for information.
  2. Not found attached.