Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Grant G. Hilliker of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs


Subject: Proposed Modus Vivendi on Antarctica

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

Mr. Rodríguez asked to come in to discuss informally the Department’s revision of the proposed modus vivendi for the Antarctic, handed to him February 28, 1951.1 (See Memorandum of Conversation dated March 1.)

Referring to the “fishing” article which we had deleted from Chilean draft, he reviewed the three reasons for our opposition to it and asked for clarification of the first and third. With respect to possible inclusion of such a provision in the International Whaling Convention, he remarked that his examination of the Convention failed to reveal any provision for amending the Convention to incorporate such a provision. I said that Mr. Hulley’s comment concerning our preference for including the fishing provision in the Whaling Convention was contingent on arriving at a decision that it was necessary or desirable to have such a provision at all. This question had not been considered in the Department, it being merely our feeling that the provision, if necessary, might more logically be dealt with under the Convention than in the modus vivendi.

With respect to the possible difficulty of dealing with this question in an executive agreement, I told Mr. Rodríguez that this was not a decision based on a full legal study, but was an obvious inference to be drawn from the fact that our Constitution gives Congress the right to levy taxes. Therefore, any attempt to deal with a taxation matter, even future and hypothetical, in an executive agreement might lead to questions of executive powers.

Mr. Rodríguez consulted the draft we had given him and asked for clarification of the words “assent to” substituted for “authorized” in the second part of article 7.2 I informed him that this wording was [Page 1718] changed in order to include cases in which specific authorization for expeditions by non-signatories might not be requested or possibly not even required, for the portion of the area to be entered. The altered wording was believed to be legally more realistic without detracting from the purpose of the provision. He said that it involved a problem of accurate translation into Spanish. He also asked why the words “their projected activities” were inserted in article 53 of the new draft. I replied that this provision seemed to us essential in order to give meaning to the provisions of the following paragraph concerning coordination of plans for expeditions. I remarked that Mr. Rodríguez had asked about precisely the two changes we had at one point considered calling to his special attention.

Mr. Rodríguez next inquired what had been behind the Department’s indication that Chile might go ahead alone with the circulation of the proposal to the other interested governments, rather than in conjunction with the US as had been discussed earlier. He said he personally believed, and thought his Government would agree, that US participation in the circulation of the modus vivendi would (1) lend the weight of US prestige to the proposal and (2) solve certain physical limitations resulting from the fact that some of the countries concerned do not have representatives in Santiago.4 I said I thought I could tell him quite frankly that we had decided to avoid fully identifying the proposal with the US, in an effort to increase its chances of acceptance in certain quarters. Moreover, it would avoid the necessity of complete agreement between our governments on the text of the draft, e.g., the “fishing” article. I told Mr. Rodríguez that if his government felt strongly on this point that we would be prepared to reconsider the question of the best procedure for circulating the draft, but I wondered how we would deal with the problem of agreeing on a draft.

Mr. Barall mentioned the question of where such a modus vivendi might be signed, which led Mr. Rodríguez to reiterate his Government’s views that the seat of the Consultative Committee contemplated in the modus vivendi should be in Santiago or Washington. He added that the Chileans would oppose London and Buenos Aires. He also asked how much the British knew about the modus vivendi proposal. I answered that they seemed to be informed, and asked whether I was correct in believing the Chileans had circulated their original proposal in 1948 among the countries concerned. He said that this had been done as a matter of information but that he had understood [Page 1719] from Caspar Green,5 about a year ago, that we had given the British a copy of our revision as of that date. I remarked that I must have overlooked this in my study of the old files.

Grant G. Hilliker
  1. The draft modus vivendi, undated, not printed, was attached to Hulley’s memorandum of conversation, March 1, supra.
  2. Article 7 of the draft under reference reads as follows:

    • “That the Committee shall inform the signatory Governments concerning any situation that may arise in case a country not a signatory to this Declaration indicates an intention or desire to carry out explorations or scientific research or study in the Antarctic;
    • That the signatory Governments agree not to assent to any such expedition during the life of this Declaration, except on condition that it shall not be invoked as a basis for territorial claims” (702.022/3–151).

  3. Article 5 of the draft under reference reads as follows:

    • “That the signatory Governments will establish an Antarctic Consultative Committee, with headquarters in the city of —— composed of one member for each country, the chairmanship of the Committee to be rotated annually, and the signatory countries to inform the Committee of their projected activities and the results of their scientific research and study in the Antarctic” (702.022/3–151).

  4. Neither Australia nor New Zealand had diplomatic representatives in Chile.
  5. Caspar D. Green, formerly of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs.