IO Files

Minutes of Eighth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, November 9, 1951

US/A/M (Chr)/195

[Here follow list of persons (47) present and brief remarks about the course of the General Debate in the General Assembly.]

2. Ambassador Gross reviewed the General Committee developments on Morocco.1 He said that confusion had reigned since the Canadian had not presented the motion he was supposed to have made. Instead of moving that the General Committee recommend to the General Assembly that the General Assembly postpone consideration of the question whether the Moroccan item should be placed on the agenda he had moved that the General Committee itself adjourn debate on the matter in order that he could have time to study the matter further. This precipitated considerable discussion. Ambassador [Page 155] Austin had explained why the US favored postponement.2 Jebb had tried to bring the matter around to where it was supposed to have been.3 Tsiang4 moved adjournment of the meeting without coming to a vote on the matter—a wise move in Ambassador Gross’ view.5 Today the matter would arise on the basis of a written proposal, but the most important question was what exactly that proposal would say.

Ambassador Gross pointed out that by agreement with Mr. Schuman France had been left the diplomatic initiative on the matter which prevented the US from doing its usual liaison work as it was accustomed to do in the Security Council. France seemed to be doing a particularly inept job of carrying the initiative and would not stand too good a chance of persuading the General Committee members to adopt its view. Padilla Nervo,6 for instance, would vote against any move calculated to keep this matter from being discussed.

Ambassador Gross speculated on what the situation would be following a sine die postponement; the very next day, he thought, someone might rise in the Assembly and propose that the General Assembly on its own decision take up the matter of Morocco. This would precipitate the large debate we sought to avoid. There would be no assurance that the debate would not ensue if our formula of having the General Committee recommend to the General Assembly that the latter not put the matter on the agenda were followed. It would, however, give a little more weight to the French side. Ambassador Gross wondered whether we ought not approach the French and ask them to release us from our commitment to them. We would honor the commitment if not released, but if we were freed, we might conceivably accomplish more on our own initiative.

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Ambassador Austin gave his understanding of the situation to be that we advocated putting the matter on the agenda, but with a notation, in effect, that the discussion of the matter would be postponed. Mr. Sandifer7 did not understand this to be what the US had agreed to. First, we had said that we would abstain on the question of putting the matter on the agenda. Secondly, on the substance of the matter, if it came up for discussion in the Assembly, we would support the French to the extent of not voting for any investigation or other action by the General Assembly against France in Morocco. The wording of a motion in the General Committee would be to the effect that the General Committee decides to recommend to the General Assembly that it (the GA) postpone the question of whether to include the matter on the agenda.

Ambassador Jessup said that what the General Committee did in a case like this was to send to the General Assembly a proposal either to include or not to include a certain matter on the agenda. Mr. Bonsal read from a letter from the French to the US Delegation the language they thought had been agreed upon, namely, that the General Committee should recommend to the Assembly that it postpone the question of whether to retain the item for inclusion on the agenda.8

Ambassador Gross summarized the situation by saying that the Arabs wanted the item on the agenda even if it did not come up for debate. The French objected even to putting it on, even if there should be no debate on the matter. The US compromise was to have the General Committee itself recommend postponement of the consideration of the item. In response to this, Ambassador Austin wondered what the status of our preferred resolution would be if the General Committee took no action and its report contained no reference to the Moroccan item. Ambassador Gross said that in such a case the General Committee report would have to show what the General Committee had recommended and the General Assembly would have, by its approval, implicitly accepted the sine die postponement of the question of whether to put the Moroccan item on the agenda. The trouble, of course, with such a result, would be that the sine die postponement meant that the matter could be brought up at any time thereafter. This, at least, was the understanding of Padilla Nervo, who felt that the General Assembly had the inherent power to add items on its own motion. Mr. Fisher cautioned that Padilla Nervo might state his interpretation that the effect of our resolution was to reject the Moroccan item. Ambassador Austin said the Delegation [Page 157] should suspend its consideration of this matter and get the advice on it of the 3 Foreign Ministers who were to meet that morning. It was so decided.

  1. The General Committee began consideration of the Moroccan item on November 8. For the proceedings, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixth Session, General Committee, pp. 3 ff. (hereafter cited as GA (VI), General Committee). The tangled parliamentary situation that arose is explained herein by Ambassador Gross.
  2. Senator Austin covered considerable ground in his relatively brief statement to the General Committee: (1) The United States favored a General Committee recommendation to the General Assembly (for postponement) regarding the Moroccan item: The item dealt with a complicated situation that warranted careful study and there was insufficient time for such study as the item had been submitted by Egypt only one month previously; (2) The United States had confidence in the French administration of Morocco; (3) The United States felt that a detailed discussion of the Moroccan question “would not be in the interests of the Moroccan people”; (4) The United States considered that “Efforts should be made, in the spirit of the Charter, outside the United Nations to settle such matters before submitting them to the Organization.” (GA (VI), General Committee, pp. 4 and 5)
  3. That is, to effect an interpretation of the Canadian resolution that would have the General Committee actually recommend to the General Assembly that discussion of the Moroccan question be postponed (ibid., p. 5).
  4. Tsingfu F. Tsiang, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, Chairman of the Chinese Delegation to the General Assembly.
  5. Tsiang’s proposal was that the Canadian motion should be submitted in writing “so that members could fully appreciate the implication of their vote.” (GA (VI), General Committee, p. 7)
  6. Luis Padilla Nervo, President of the Sixth Regular Session of the General Assembly.
  7. Durward V. Sandifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs, was one of two Senior Advisers to the U.S. Delegation.
  8. Bonsal was from the U.S. Embassy, Paris. The letter cited here has not been found in the Department of State files.