Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs (Hulley)


Subject: Proposed Modus Vivendi on Antarctica3

Participants: Mario Rodríguez A., Minister Counselor, Chilean Embassy
Mr. Barall—OSA 4
Mr. Hulley—BNA
Mr. Hilliker—BNA 5

Mr. Rodríguez was asked to come in to receive our redraft of the proposed modus vivendi for the Antarctic, based on the Chilean revision given the Department in September 1950.6 In giving him the redraft (copy attached)7 I explained that most of the changes related to questions of phraseology or arose out of the translation from Spanish. The one important substantive change we had made was to delete the article proposed by Chile which would have obligated signatories not to impose taxes or other fees in the Antarctic on fishermen and fishing vessels of other signatories. I reviewed the following reasons for our fundamental opposition to any mention of the subject in the modus vivendi: [Page 1716]

that any such provision might better be included in the International Whaling Convention8 and not limited to signatories of the modus vivendi;
that inclusion in the modus vivendi of a matter such as whaling (carried on almost entirely on the high seas) might give certain countries with whaling interests an excuse to claim participation in the regime relating to the mainland, which they would not otherwise have; and
that there was a serious question whether the United States could legally settle a matter relating to taxation in an executive agreement.

Mr. Rodríguez confirmed my understanding that whaling has been historically the principal form of “fishing” in the Antarctic but said that the provision also was intended to cover any other types of fishing which might develop in the future. He also confirmed the impression that the Chilean concern grew out of the British practice of assessing certain whaling fees within their Antarctic claim.

On the question of procedure for presenting the draft to the other countries concerned, I said that on further reflection we thought it would be best if Chile would make the circulation since the proposal had originally been theirs. This would permit the Chileans to present it, in whatever form they desired, as a basis for discussion. I said that while the draft could not be considered as having had final US “approval” there would be no objection to Chileans stating that we had been consulted. I suggested that Chile might find it useful to circulate the draft in an English as well as a Spanish text.

Mr. Rodríguez asked about the status of any reply to the Soviet memorandum on Antarctic of last June.9 I replied that we had seen no advantage in replying at the present time and understood from the British that they had come to a similar conclusion. He also asked whether we had gone any further toward announcing an official claim to Antarctic territory and I replied that we had not.

Benjamin M. Hulley
  1. Although the memorandum was dated March 1, the conversation took place on February 28.
  2. The proposal for a modus vivendi was originally made by Chile in response to a U.S. proposal for internationalization of the Antarctic, made in identic aide-mémoires dated August 9, 1948, with an enclosed draft agreement, presented to the governments of the countries with legal claims on the Antarctic: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. For texts of both documents and documentation concerning the Chilean counterproposal, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, pp. 996 ff. For documentation concerning subsequent discussion of the proposal for a modus vivendi, see ibid., 1949, vol. i, pp. 793 ff. and ibid., 1950, vol. i, pp. 905 ff.
  3. Milton Barall of the Office of South American Affairs.
  4. Grant G. Hilliker of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs.
  5. The Chilean draft under reference, not printed, was given to Hulley by Rodríguez on September 7, 1950; see Hulley’s memorandum of conversation of that date in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 917.
  6. Draft modus vivendi, undated, not printed.
  7. For the text of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, signed at Washington December 2, 1946, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1849, or 62 Stat. 1716.
  8. For text of the Soviet memorandum of June 8, 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 911.