IO Files

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Alfred E. Wellons of the Office of African Affairs


Subject: Italian Participation in UN Trusteeship Council

Participants: Mr. Felice Catalano, Italian Embassy1
Mr. William I. Cargo—UND2
Mr. A. E. Wellons—AF

Mr. Catalano came in this afternoon at his request to review the question of Italian participation in the current session of the UN Trusteeship Council in New York. He said that the Italian observer at the United Nations, Mr. Mascia, had received strong instructions from Rome to press for full Italian participation in the Trusteeship Council even though Italy is not a member of the United Nations. He explained that by “full participation” the Italian Government includes the right to vote in spite of the fact that Article 86 of the UN Charter limits membership of the Trusteeship Council to “Members of the United Nations”. I expressed doubt that such an arrangement could be made within the terms of the Charter but said I would check with the Office of United Nations Affairs on the matter. (I telephoned Mr. Cargo of UND and asked him to join the discussion.)

Mr. Catalano explained to Mr. Cargo that in the view of the Italian Government a new situation exists regarding Italian participation in the Trusteeship Council which was not contemplated when the UN Charter was adopted. This situation, he explained, is that Italy has been prevented from becoming a member of the UN several times by Soviet vetoes. Although Italy was not a member of the UN, General Assembly granted Italy trusteeship over former Italian Somaliland and Italy had accepted all the obligations of the UN in that regard. Therefore, the Italian Government felt it was justified in asking for the right to vote in meetings of the Trusteeship Council. Mr. Catalano added that the Argentine member of the Council would probably present a resolution proposing that Italy be given the right to vote by amending the UN Charter.

[Page 294]

Mr. Cargo explained that Article 86 of the UN Charter limited membership in the Council to members of the UN and that, therefore, he did not see how Italy could legally be given the right to vote without an amendment to the UN Charter. Mr. Catalano then said that the Italian Government realized this but felt it would be worthwhile to press for an appropriate amendment under Article 108 of the Charter. Mr. Cargo explained that the procedure outlined in Article 108, even if the amendment received a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly, would probably take several years and would require ratification by two-thirds of the members of the UN, including all the permanent members of the Security Council. If the Soviet Union vetoed Italy’s application for membership, he added, it was likely that they would not ratify such an amendment giving Italy the right to vote in the Trusteeship Council. Mr. Catalano said they would not object to such a result because the responsibility would lie clearly with the Soviets.

Mr. Cargo and I also pointed out that under the terms of the Charter It would be necessary for the General Assembly to elect a nonadministering member of the Trusteeship Council if Italy should obtain the right to vote as an administering member. Mr. Catalano said that, of course, they would expect this to be done.

Mr. Cargo emphasized that the present instructions to the US representative on the Trusteeship Council were to support full Italian participation without the right to vote. He added that some members of the Council and the Secretariat desired to limit Italian participation only to matters directly affecting Italian Somaliland. Mr. Cargo and I made it clear that under the terms of the UN Charter as it now stands we did not see how it would be possible for the US to support a proposal permitting Italy to vote in the Trusteeship Council. Mr. Catalano asked if we would review the situation in the light of further discussions in New York after the Argentine proposal is Introduced. We readily agreed saying that much would depend, of course, on the wording of the Argentine draft resolution.

  1. Catalano was a Second Secretary of Embassy.
  2. Cargo was Officer in Charge of Trusteeship Affairs in the Office of Dependent Area Affairs.