L/UNA Files

Memorandum by the Director of the Office of International Administration and Conferences (Hall) to the Legal Adviser (Fisher)

Subject: McCarran Act1—Possible Conflict with Headquarters Agreement

In conversation with Abe Feller2 in New York recently he expressed the view that the regulations which have been issued under the McCarran Act make it fairly clear to him that there is likely to be some conflict between that Act and the way in which it is being interpreted and the Headquarters Agreement. He expressed the view that in the event of such conflict the UN secretariat would be forced to resort to the arbitration procedure under the Agreement. He stated he thought this would be very unfortunate and wondered whether any consideration was being given to a general amendment to the McCarran Act which would waive its provisions so far as it conflicted with international obligations or international agreements. I told him I did not know whether any amendments were under consideration but that I would bring his view to your attention.3

Mr. George Ingram4 informs me that this is an unrealistic proposal and that in his view there is no possibility of conflict because of the national security provision in the Headquarters Agreement.5 I believe it would be useful at some point for you or Mr. Jack Tate6 or Mr. Leonard Meeker7 to have a discussion with Mr. Feller on the subject of the McCarran Act and the Headquarters Agreement in order to avoid future misunderstanding.

  1. The Internal Security Act of 1950, enacted September 23, 1950 (64 Stat. 987). For documentation regarding the impact of this statute upon the conduct of U.S. foreign relations, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, pp. 896 ff.
  2. Abraham H. Feller, General Counsel and Principal Director, Legal Department, United Nations Secretariat.
  3. The need for revision of the act was under study in fact by the Department of State’s Policy Committee on Immigration and Naturalization (PIN). The problem became merged subsequently in that of the proposed McCarran-Walter legislation to provide a completely new immigration and naturalization law (S. 716).
  4. Chief of the Division of International Administration.
  5. There were two annexes to the Headquarters Agreement, and the national security reservation (Section 6) occurs in Annex 2 which reads in part: “Nothing in the agreement shall be construed as in any way diminishing, abridging, or weakening the right of the United States to safeguard its own security and completely to control the entrance of aliens into any territory of the United States other than the headquarters district and its immediate vicinity.” The reservation further provided that nothing in the agreement “shall be construed to amend or suspend in any way the immigration laws of the United States or to commit the United States in any way to effect any amendment or suspension of such laws.” (61 Stat. 767, 768)
  6. Jack B. Tate, Deputy Legal Adviser.
  7. Leonard C. Meeker, Assistant Legal Adviser for United Nations Affairs.