IO Files, Lot 71 D 440

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy United States Representative on the Collective Measures Committee (Bancroft)



Subject: Collective Measures Committee:

Facilities, Rights and Related Assistance for United Nations Armed Forces.
Continuance of CMC work.

Participants: Mr. John E. Coulson } United Kingdom Delegation
Mr. Denis S. Laskey
Mr. Harding F. Bancroft } U.S. Mission to United Nations
Mr. Charles Bolte

Coulson reported that they had now received the views of their Foreign Office on the United States paper on Facilities, Rights and Related Assistance for United Nations Armed Forces (WGCMC D–18c)1 which we had given to them for comment two weeks ago. [Page 649]Coulson said that the Foreign Office supported the preliminary view that they had expressed on July 25 (reported in US/A/AC.43/56).2

In the first place, he said the study of the subject of bases would be regarded by the neutral states as having a provocative effect on the Soviet Union which could claim that UN efforts in this field, taken on the initiative of the United States, represented a further effort at Russian encirclement. This would provide a propaganda weapon to the Soviet who would maintain that the UN was becoming an anti-Soviet agency. This propaganda would have the effect on some states of making them shy away from the West and reduce their participation in the UN.

The questions of bases and rights of passage were touchy because of the issue of sovereignty involved. If these matters are brought up it would have the effect of frightening nations off from full participation in the Uniting for Peace program rather than of increasing their support for it.

Third, the consideration of bases in the Collective Measures Committee is of little utility unless it is combined with operational planning, in which we are all agreed the United Nations should not engage. At the same time, any consideration of the provision of bases would be a step toward strategic planning by the United Nations.

For these reasons they were instructed to urge us not to introduce the paper.

We made the argument that the Uniting for Peace resolution already recommended to states that units of their national forces be maintained for possible UN use; that it was a natural, logical and desirable corollary for the Collective Measures Committee to consider other types of assistance and facilities which member states might be willing to contribute to the UN in support of collective military action; obviously the effectiveness of armed forces depended not only on the existence of the forces themselves but also on supporting assistance and facilities; and many states could supply assistance whereas they could not contribute forces.

We pointed out further that the philosophy of the Uniting for Peace resolution was essentially as stated in its preamble, to carry forward the responsibility of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security pending the time when the Security Council was able to carry out its own responsibilities and particularly to conclude agreements under Article 43. Article 43 of the Charter provided that members should undertake to make available to the United Nations, in accordance with special agreements, not only armed forces but also assistance and facilities, including rights of passage. The Uniting for Peace resolution called on member states not only to maintain units of forces but to survey their resources to see what other [Page 650]assistance they could give. Therefore it seemed to us desirable for the Collective Measures Committee to pick up the other half of Article 43 and consider to what extent the United Nations could be better prepared for collective action in respect to the other types of assistance and facilities which member states would be in a position to contribute. In other words, consideration of the problem of assistance and facilities by the Collective Measures Committee would round out the underlying philosophy of the Uniting for Peace resolution so that the progress made by the Committee would seek to approach the state of affairs that the framers of the Charter contemplated under Article 43.

We pointed out further that we were in full agreement with the British that we did not want to do anything which would provoke the Russians or which would lead neutral states to believe that we were seeking to make the United Nations into an anti-Soviet coalition. We thought that this could be taken care of by proper language and emphasis in the CMC report.

On the point that the British made that the further consideration of the assistance program would be of doubtful practical utility, we pointed out that the whole program under the Uniting for Peace resolution was a gradual program. We were not trying to make the United Nations into a fully equipped collective security organization overnight, but rather to work in developing stages toward progress to that end. If we could increase the readiness of states both psychologically and practically to provide the United Nations with assistance and facilities, it would be the same sort of advance that we were seeking by the recommendation for the maintenance of forces under Paragraph 8 of the resolution.

Finally we said that we thought that the presentation of the problem of assistance and facilities in the report could be done in such a way as to remove the criticism that the whole effort was directed only against possible Communist aggression. We believed that the report could point out that any progress that was being made by the Collective Measures Committee would be in the direction of the aims and objectives of the Charter and that when the time came that the Security Council was able to fulfill its responsibilities and the Military Staff Committee was able to function effectively, the progress that had been made in this direction could be picked up by the Security Council and the Military Staff Committee and converted to the exact scheme of the Charter. In other words, it could be pointed out that the increased readiness of member states to contribute to United Nations action, both by way of armed forces and by way of the necessary supporting assistance and facilities to those armed forces, would make it easier at a later stage for Article 43 agreements to be concluded between them and the Security Council if that becomes feasible. [Page 651]We recalled that the Assembly had unanimously adopted Resolution B of the Uniting for Peace series which recommended to the Security Council that it devise measures for the earliest application of Articles 43, 45, 46 and 47 of the Charter, and that the Collective Measures Committee should make reference to that resolution in its report in order to make clear that what it was doing was in aid of the Charter provisions rather than in any way inconsistent with them.

Coulson said that he was not sure but what there was some basic difference in philosophy between our two positions. The British have been willing to go along with the Uniting for Peace resolution because they saw some utility in getting member states to a greater degree of readiness in respect to their armed forces. They were not sure, however, that they were willing to carry that concept much further, especially when they saw little practical advantage which outweighed the political disadvantage of extending the United for Peace concept to include bases as well as armed forces.

We asked Coulson if the greatest stumbling point in their mind was the fact that bases was included in our paper and if they would see any disadvantage to the extension of the concept embracing merely the other sorts of assistance which member states can contribute to a United Nations action. Laskey replied by saying that if the paper specifically excluded bases and rights of passage they would have less difficulty with it. After some questioning, he said he put both bases and rights of passage in the same category because they both involved the question of sovereignty and national territory. We pointed out that it seemed to us that some of their arguments against the consideration of bases would not apply to rights of passage and in fact we did not think that most states would find much difficulty in expressing a willingness to make available to the United Nations, when it decided to use force as part of collective action, transit rights through their territory in accordance with due constitutional processes.

We then told them frankly that the U.S. paper was being considered on its merits in Washington and the questions which they had raised were being given thorough consideration. Subject to that consideration, we said that we believed it would be desirable to have the problem put before the Collective Measures Committee for consideration to see if we could not work up something that would be satisfactory to all the members of the Committee. Coulson at that point reiterated that it was their view that the paper should not be considered by the Committee. We then asked them if they thought it was possible to modify the paper in such a way that they could agree to its consideration in the Collective Measures Committee. We said we thought it might be possible to work on the paper so that it would deal generally with the possibility of members contributing assistance to the United Nations without unnecessary concentration or emphasis on the problem [Page 652]of bases. After some consideration of this possible approach, Coulson said that he thought something might be done in this direction.

We then discussed the question of the continuance of the Collective Measures Committee. Laskey said it was their view that some committee of the General Assembly should continue the work of the Collective Measures Committee. At a later stage, he thought, the continuing committee would not have any more constructive work to do, but would simply be in existence to keep in touch with developments in the collective measures field. He said that for the continued “formative” work, however, for the next year it was their view that the CMC, with its present composition, should be continued. He said he thought that the composition of the Committee was extremely good and we could not get a better committee if we attempted to change it. He saw some embarrassment in having the CMC recommend its own continuance, but he hoped it would be possible for the Committee in its report to recommend that it carry forward its work for one more year.

We said that we were in general agreement with that view and that we did not see any real difficulty in having the CMC recommend its own continuance, that this had been done by other UN bodies. We said, however, that if this became embarrassing, the CMC could simply recommend that the General Assembly establish some appropriate body to continue the work of the CMC and that during General Assembly consideration of the CMC report, it could be agreed upon in Paris that the composition of the CMC should remain the same.

H. F. Bancroft
  1. Document WGCMC D–18c, June 19, 1951, is not printed.
  2. Not printed.