357.AH/8–2450: Telegram

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

364. As a result of conversations yesterday and today between Ambassador Muniz,1 Ambassador Padilla Nervo, Stafford and Noyes2 on the one hand, and the Italian and Ethiopian delegations on the other, regarding Eritrea, it seems hopeful that the Italians and Ethiopians may be able to accept or acquiesce in the latest draft working paper annexed hereto. Both delegations are forwarding this paper to their Foreign Offices with careful explanations. Both delegations seem prepared, in the interests of a solution, not to pursue further the points which they had previously insisted upon. Both delegations have been urged strongly to attempt to obtain instructions authorizing them to acquiesce in this draft, and the group is hopeful that this may occur.

Both delegations have been advised that in view of the short time left for the interim committee, this text will be submitted immediately, informally, to a number of delegations who have indicated an interest in acting as co-sponsors. Ambassador Muniz has called a meeting Friday at 11:30 and is attempting to get the Canadian, Netherlands, Turkish, Lebanese and South African delegations to attend the meeting. It is hoped that if all goes well, a resolution along the lines of the attached draft may be introduced in the IC by the middle of next week.

Question will arise Friday as to the US attitude towards this document. We propose to state that it is the result of exhaustive negotiation; that we believe it is the best possible compromise; and that we have been and are prepared to continue pressing both the [Page 1668] Italian and Ethiopian delegations and to urge upon all other delegations that they should accept or support a resolution along these lines. We shall reserve our right to recommend modifications to the other members of the group in the light of the instructions received by the Italian and Ethiopian delegations. We shall state that if both parties accept the resolution, we shall give it our full support in the IC and the GA and that in any case, if the co-sponsors introduce this resolution, we shall not ourselves propose amendments to it.

We should like to be in a position, if necessary, to go beyond this fairly limited commitment which we do not believe will be wholly satisfactory. We recommend that Department authorize us to cosponsor this resolution if the Ethiopian Government agrees to it or the Ethiopian delegation has no objections and if it appears desirable for tactical reasons. In view of our large responsibility for the draft, we feel that whether or not we sponsor the resolution, we should be prepared to advise the co-sponsors that once the resolution is introduced we would give it our full support and would act as if we were co-sponsors, i.e., we would not support any amendments unless such amendments were agreed by all of the co-sponsors.3


Eritrea working paper.

The interim committee, having considered the report of the United Nations Commission for Eritrea, recommends to the General Assembly that it approve the following resolution:

Whereas by paragraph 3 of Annex XI to the Treaty of Peace with Italy, 1947, the powers concerned have agreed to accept the recommendation of the General Assembly on the disposal of the former Italian colonies in Africa and to take appropriate measures for giving effect to it; and

Whereas by paragraph 2 of the aforesaid Annex XI such disposal is to be made in the light of the wishes and welfare of the inhabitants and the interests of peace and security, taking into consideration the views of interested governments:

Now therefore:

The General Assembly, in the light of the report of the United Nations Commission for Eritrea and the recommendations of the interim committee, and

[Page 1669]

Taking into consideration

The wishes and welfare of the inhabitants of Eritrea, including the views of the various racial, religious and political groups of the provinces of the territory and the capacity of the people for self-government;
The interests of peace and security in East Africa;
The rights and claims of Ethiopia based on geographical, historical, ethnic or economic reasons, including in particular Ethiopia’s legitimate need for adequate access to the sea;

Taking into account the importance of assuring the continuing collaboration of the foreign communities in the economic development of Eritrea;

Recognizing that the disposal of Eritrea should be based on its close political and economic association with Ethiopia; and

Desiring that this association assure to the inhabitants of Eritrea the fullest respect and safeguards for their institutions, traditions, religions and languages, as well as the widest possible measures of self-government, while at the same time assuring to the empire of Ethiopia the maintenance of its international status and identity;

A. Recommends that:

Eritrea shall constitute an autonomous unit federated with Ethiopia under the sovereignty of the Ethiopian crown.
The Eritrean Government shall possess legislative, executive and judicial powers in the field of domestic affairs.
The jurisdiction of the Federal Government shall extend to the following matters: defense, foreign affairs, currency and finance, foreign and interstate commerce and external and inter-state communications including ports. The Federal Government shall have the power to maintain the integrity and internal security and good order of the Federation, and shall have the right to levy uniform taxes throughout the Federation to meet the expenses of Federal functions and services, provided that Eritrea shall bear only its just and equitable share of these expenses. The jurisdiction of the Eritrean Government shall extend to all matters not vested in the Federal Government, including the power to maintain internal police, to levy taxes to meet the expense for domestic functions and services, and to adopt its own budget.
The area of the Federation shall constitute a single area for customs purposes, and there shall be no barriers to the free movement of goods and persons within the area. Customs duties on goods entering or leaving the Federation which have their final destination or origin in Eritrea shall be assigned to Eritrea.
An Imperial Federal Council, composed of equal numbers of Ethiopian and Eritrean representatives shall meet at least once a year and shall advise upon the common affairs of the Federation referred to in Article 3.
A single nationality shall prevail throughout the Federation. All inhabitants of Eritrea, except persons possessing foreign nationality, shall be nationals of the Federation. The qualifications for exercising their rights as citizens of Eritrea shall be determined by the constitution and laws of Eritrea. All persons possessing foreign nationality who have resided in Eritrea for 10 years prior to the date of the adoption of this resolution shall have the right, without further requirements of residence, to apply for the nationality of the Federation in accordance with Federal laws. Such persons who do not thus acquire the nationality of the Federation shall be permitted to reside in and engage in peaceful and lawful pursuits in Eritrea. The rights and interests of foreign nationals resident in Eritrea shall be guaranteed in accordance with the provisions of Article 7.
All residents of Eritrea without distinction of nationality, race, sex, language or religion, shall enjoy human rights and fundamental liberties, including the following:
The right of equality before the law. No discrimination shall be made against foreign enterprises in existence in Eritrea, engaged in industrial, commercial, agricultural, artisan, educational or charitable activities, nor against banking institutions and insurance companies operating in Eritrea.
The right to life, liberty and security of person.
The right to own and dispose of property. No one shall be deprived of property including contractual rights, without due process of law and without payment of just and effective compensation.
The right to freedom of opinion and expression and of adopting and practicing any creed or religion.
The right of education.
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
The right to inviolability of correspondence and domicile, subject to requirements of the law.
The right to exercise any profession subject to the requirements of the law.
No one shall be subject to arrest or detention without an order of a competent authority, except in case of flagrant and serious violation of the law in force. No one shall be deported except in accordance with the law.
The right to a fair and equitable trial.
Retroactivity of penal law shall be excluded.

The respect for the rights and freedoms of others and the requirements of public order and the general welfare alone will justify any limitations to the above rights.

Paragraphs 1 through 7 of this resolution shall constitute the Federal Act.
There shall be a transition period not exceeding ————— during which the Eritrean Government will be organized and the Eritrean constitution prepared and put into effect.
There shall be a United Nations Commissioner in Eritrea appointed by the General Assembly.
During the transition period, the present administering authority shall continue to conduct the affairs of Eritrea. It shall, in consultation with the United Nations Commissioner, prepare as rapidly as possible the organization of an Eritrean administration, induct Eritreans into all levels of the administration, and make arrangements for and convoke a representative assembly of Eritreans chosen by the people. It may, in agreement with the Commissioner negotiate on behalf of the Eritreans a temporary customs union with Ethiopia to be put into effect as soon as practicable.
The United Nations Commissioner shall, in consultation with the administering authority, the Government of Ethiopia, and representatives of the people of Eritrea, prepare a draft of the Eritrean constitution to be submitted to the Eritrean Assembly and shall advise and assist the Eritrean Assembly in its consideration of the constitution. The constitution of Eritrea shall also be based on the principles of Democratic government, shall be consistent with the provisions of the Federal Act and shall include the guarantees contained in its Article 7.
The Federal Act and the Eritrean constitution shall enter into effect simultaneously following ratification of the Federal Act by the Emperor of Ethiopia and the Eritrean Assembly, and following approval by the Commissioner, adoption by the Eritrean Assembly and ratification by the Emperor of Ethiopia of the Eritrean constitution.
Arrangements shall be made by the Government of the United Kingdom as the administering authority for the transfer of power to the appropriate authorities. The transfer of power shall take place as soon as the Eritrean constitution and the Federal Act enter into effect in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 13 above.
The Commissioner shall maintain his headquarters in Eritrea until the transfer of power has been completed, and shall make appropriate reports to the General Assembly of the United Nations concerning the discharge of his functions.

A. The Commissioner may consult, with the interim committee of the General Assembly with respect to the discharge of his functions in the light of developments and within the terms of the present resolution. When the transfer of authority has been completed, he shall so report to the General Assembly and submit to it the text of the Eritrean constitution.

B. Authorizes the Secretary-General, in accordance with established practice:

To arrange for the payment of an appropriate remuneration to the United Nations Commissioner;
To assign to the United Nations Commissioner such expert staff and to provide such facilities as the Secretary-General may consider necessary to carry out the terms of the present resolution.

  1. Joao Carlo Muniz, Bolivian Representative at the United Nations.
  2. Charles P. Noyes, U.S. Deputy Representative at the United Nations Interim Committee.
  3. In telegram 189, to New York, August 25, not printed, Austin was authorized to proceed along the lines indicated in the third and fourth paragraphs of this telegram as long as the British Foreign Office raised no objections to the line of action. (357.AH/8–2450)