IO Files

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Ward P. Allen, Special Assistant on United Nations Affairs, Bureau of European Affairs

Participants: Mr. Felice Catalano, Second Secretary, Italian Embassy
Ward P. Allen, EUR

1. Participation in GA VI.

Mr. Catalano, calling at his request for a general discussion of the problem of Italian participation in the UN, remarked that with the major questions of Italian Colonies disposed of there would be few subjects on which Italy could properly participate at the next GA session. He expressed the hope that the Libyan question would not arise and that the Arab States and Pakistan could be persuaded not to raise it. In the present decision for a federated state, the word “federation” seems to have a highly flexible meaning, he remarked. Italy means and desires “true” federation, i.e., “as loose as possible”, so that Cyrenaica cannot gain too dominant a position. I pointed out that because of the strong views held by the Moslem States there was, of course, no guarantee that the question would not arise and that in any event the reports of the UN Libyan Commissioner and of the Administering Powers are automatically on the GA agenda. These items, together with the problem of the Egyptian-Libyan frontier and the report of the UN Commissioner for Eritrea, are all items in which Italy will have a real interest at the next GA.

2. Participation in the Trusteeship Council.

When Mr. Catalano referred to the recent decision of the TC to give Italy participation without vote and to have the GA consider the question of voting rights, I reiterated our view that we saw no real substantive benefit from having the matter considered by the GA. The only ways in which Italy could be given a vote in the TC would be (1) by its admission to the UN, for which we continue unsuccessfully [Page 311] to strive, or (2) by amendment of the Charter, equally impossible at the moment. Mr. Catalano stated that his Government is of course aware of this but the Argentine motion in the TC to refer the voting matter to the GA was “necessary at the time” because of its favorable effect on Italian public opinion.

Speculating on what course of action the GA could take on this question, Mr. Catalano suggested the possibility of some resolution that would at least “not close the door” to voting rights in the TC. I responded that, although our position had not yet been formulated for the GA, it would seem more sensible and better even for Italian opinion in the long run, not to keep the question agitated, since there is no possible way for the GA to give Italy a vote in any event. The matter might be handled best by a reiteration of the GA’s opinion that Italy is qualified for full UN membership. Although I expressed the view that a reference to the International Court would be useless, Mr. Catalano clung to that as a possibility for GA action. He pointed out that the Italian people did not understand the Charter provisions which make the granting of a vote impossible, but, in response to a question, stated it would not be practical for the Government to try to explain it to them.

3. General UN Participation Without Vote.

Mr. Catalano desired to know whether we were planning to press for GA action to give Italy general participation without vote in various UN organs as an interim substitute for membership. I stated that in our annual review of the perennial membership problem this possibility was being considered. He commented that, so far as he knew, his Government had not changed its position of not favoring that sort of “second-class membership”, adding that he personally also felt it would be unwise for Italy thus to be placed in a sort of inferior position. I responded that while there was considerable sentiment in favor of a move in this direction for qualified applicants, in reaching a decision on the matter we would of course attach considerable importance to the wishes of Italy itself.

In the course of the conversation he sought and received confirmation that the UN membership problem had not been specifically discussed in the Four Power discussions in Paris.1

Mr. Catalano stated that when he received any further word from his Government on these problems he would advise us.

  1. For documentation on this meeting, see volume iii.