UNP Files, Lot 59 D 237, “Membership General IV (Beg. 1951)”

Memorandum by Mr. Paul B. Taylor of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Sandifer)1


Attached are copies of three briefing papers on membership and related problems.

General membership policy.
Possible Special Provisions for Italian Participation in the United Nations.
Participation by Non-Members in the General Assembly.
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I will also bring a draft of the telegram, embracing all three, which would be the basis for consultations of the delegation.2

These papers have not been cleared by the Membership Team. As to general membership policy, the discussions in the Team have shown a general feeling that this would not be a favorable year for any membership action. As to participation by non-Member states, all the members of the team except FE have no objection to discussing the question with other delegations. FE’s objection is partly Miss Bacon’s opposition to the measure in general and partly a feeling in FE that it would be undesirable to get into discussions which might involve Indo-China and Japan.3 I believe that if the question were framed in such general terms that the question of Indo-China would not arise, FE would withdraw its objection. The paper on Italy has been discussed with UND and I will bring any further comments from them at the meeting.

[Enclosure 1]

General Membership Policy

main alternative courses

  • (1) Favor reconsideration of applications this year and maintain present position supporting 9 non-Cominform applicants and opposing 5 Cominform applicants.
  • (2) Proposal of an amendment to Article 4 of the Charter which would (a) remove the veto from voting on membership applications and (b) place UN membership upon a universal basis (probably removing the qualifications of “peace loving” and “willing to carry out the obligations of the Charter”).
  • (3) As another means of accomplishing the objectives of (2), proposal of a general arrangement in which all 14 applicants, plus Libya, Spain, Japan, the Associated States of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and the Federal Republic of Germany would be cleared through the SC at the outset and the GA would determine when to admit them to membership.
  • (4) Agreement to consider a single applicant, or a small number of applicants.
  • (5) Allow the membership question to remain dormant, without action.
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The present GA resolution on membership, adopted last year, merely requests the SC to keep the pending applications under consideration in accordance with the terms of previous resolutions; annual reconsideration is not necessary and did not, in fact, take place in 1950. Unless the SC considers applications, or proposals on membership are submitted, there will probably be no membership item on the GA agenda.

Alternatives 1 and 5. Our support for the 9 non-Cominform applicants and our opposition to the 5 Soviet applicants would necessarily remain unchanged this year unless a possibility of adopting alternative 2 or 3 should develop. In the absence of such a general arrangement, the question arises whether it would be desirable to reconsider the old applications. The probable result would be rejection of all through Soviet vetoes of non-Soviet candidates and majority rejection of Soviet candidates. However, the USSR might offer some general “deal” similar to that of 1949. While such a Soviet proposal might, according to circumstances, receive more support than before, we could probably defeat it without serious difficulty or serious propaganda disadvantage.

The disadvantages of reconsidering the old applications are that all will be rejected; that the propaganda advantage to us is small if it exists at all; and that it would tend to make a future solution slightly more difficult.

Alternative 2 This would be a step toward the adoption of workable membership provisions in the Charter, and to protect ourselves against charges that our policy does not even look toward the admission of states with differing systems. It might be resorted to in case pressure for admission of the satellites develops. Possible disadvantages are that (a) it might be confusing to American public opinion at the moment, and (b) that it would not meet with real enthusiasm in the UN.

Alternative 3. This would also achieve a total solution of the membership problem, involving far-reaching concessions by the USSR. If the Assembly is inclined toward attempts at East-West compromise on this matter, this proposal will not be popular. However, the proposal might be used in case a Soviet omnibus proposal received support.

The three above alternatives could be combined by stating that the U.S. position is alternative (1); that, however, the U.S. would be willing to give consideration to arrangements whereby the veto would be waived or removed from voting on membership applications and whereby all states (other than diminutive states) would be considered eligible for membership; and that these arrangements could be along the lines of either (2) or (3).

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Alternative 4. While it seems unlikely that the admission of any states can be arranged with the USSR, the best possibility of this would appear to lie in a proposal, considered under the agenda item concerning the full participation of Italy in the Trusteeship Council, to admit Italy. This would at least offer the possibility of a new and limited approach to the problem this year. (See paper on special provisions concerning Italy.)

In discussions in the Membership Team there has been general agreement that present conditions are not favorable for any action in the membership field in general, and that the only practical possibilities lie in the fields covered by the other two papers. As to proposals for participation by non-members on the basis discussed, all members of the Membership Team except FE agree that there would be no objection to discussion of the matter with other governments. FE does not at present favor such discussions.

[Enclosure 2]

Possible Special Provisions for Italian Participation in the United Nations

There follows a discussion of three possible steps for increasing Italy’s participation in the United Nations, based on its trusteeship responsibilities. They might be proposed in the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly under the item submitted by the Trusteeship Council concerning Italy’s full participation in that Council. These steps are as follows:

  • (a) Separate consideration of Italy’s membership application, on the ground that in addition to possessing the full qualifications for admission, the discharge of its trusteeship responsibilities makes UN membership desirable.
  • (b) A proposal for an amendment of the Charter which would give Italy full voting rights in the Trusteeship Council.
  • (c) A proposal, on the same grounds, to grant to Italy a broad right of participation in the committees of the Assembly. These could be combined as indicated.

To take these steps, it would be desirable that the Fourth Committee place the item on Italy’s full participation in the Trusteeship Council at the head of its agenda. Although some of these suggestions go beyond the province of the Fourth Committee, it would appear desirable to handle all of them in that Committee. All these proposals, along with others, might be submitted when the Committee begins consideration of the item from the Trusteeship Council on Italy’s full participation in the work of that Council.

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i. consideration of italy’s admission to membership as a special case

A proposal might be made that, as a means of giving Italy full participation in the Trusteeship Council, steps be taken at once in the Security Council and General Assembly to admit Italy to United Nations membership. It would be argued that, above and beyond the declarations of the General Assembly since 1947 that Italy is fully qualified for admission, the General Assembly has granted and Italy has accepted special United Nations responsibilities in connection with the operation of the trusteeship system. Italy is seriously handicapped in discharging these responsibilities if it does not have full voting participation in the Trusteeship Council, in the General Assembly, under whose general supervision the Trusteeship Council works and perhaps in other United Nations bodies. Obviously, the only completely satisfactory solution is admission to United Nations membership. The resolution would recommend that, as a special case, the application of Italy be reconsidered urgently by the Security Council.

Such a proposal would need to be considered early in the session, in order to precede a possible general membership item and in order that, if and when thwarted by a Soviet veto in the Security Council, other steps might be taken.

While Soviet agreement to Italy’s admission would be most unlikely, this approach would be the most plausible basis for considering Italy’s application as a special case. If the approach were adopted, it would be necessary to inform the other applicants in advance, making clear that their admission was not affected in any way.

If others move to reconsider all the old membership applications we would not object and the usual rejection of all applicants would take place. However, consideration of the other membership applications might be held to lie outside the scope of the present agenda item and thus take place either in a political committee or in a plenary meeting of the Assembly itself.

ii. possible charter amendment to grant it alt full rights as a member of the trusteeship council


Late in February, 1951, the Trusteeship Council (the U.S. concurring) adopted a resolution (T/848) requesting the General Assembly “to include in the agenda of its Sixth Regular Session the question of the full participation of Italy in the work of the Trusteeship Council”. Adoption of this resolution followed a Trusteeship Council decision to permit Italian participation, without vote, in Council deliberations relating to the trust territory of Somaliland and “on general questions relating to the operation of the International Trusteeship System”. It seems clear that Italy could not obtain “full participation” in the Trusteeship Council, including the right to vote, [Page 325] except (a) as a result of admission to UN membership; or (b) through amendment of Article 86 of the Charter.

Technical Aspects

On purely technical and theoretical grounds, the procedure for amending Article 86 to achieve the end in view would be fairly simple. On taking up (presumably in Committee IV) the Trusteeship Council proposal, the General Assembly could move toward amendment of Article 86 by the method prescribed in the first, unnumbered paragraph of Article 108 of the Charter. Should the Assembly, by a vote of two-thirds of the Members, approve such an amendment it would remain for two-thirds of the Member governments, including all permanent members of the Security Council, to ratify before the amendment could come into force.

Actual amendment of Article 86 could be accomplished by a few changes in the article as it now stands. The first sentence of paragraph 1 could be revised to read: “The Trusteeship Council shall consist of the following states.” (“states” being substituted for “Membership of the UN”.) Sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph 1 could be changed to read “those states administering trust territories. …” (“states” being-substituted for “Members”.) Probably sub-paragraph (c) would also have to be revised to read: “as many other Members elected for three-year as may be necessary to ensure that the total number of members of the Trusteeship Council is equally divided between those states which administer trust territories and those which do not.” (The phrase “Members of the United Nations” being replaced by “states”.)

Other Considerations

It is, of course, far from clear that the Charter amendment method described above would hold greater promise of success than further efforts to obtain Italy’s admission to UN. The USSR opposed the granting of trusteeship responsibility over former Italian Somaliland to Italy, and has repeatedly criticized Italy’s administration since that time, despite the approving stand taken by the rest of the Trusteeship Council. Furthermore, the Soviets have repeatedly denounced Italy’s participation in NATO and other important Italian government policies. It seems unlikely that the Soviets would ratify such a proposed Charter amendment, thus letting Italy partially in through the back door of the UN while they continue to keep the front door bolted.

However, the question of according Italy full rights in the Trusteeship Council will be on the Assembly agenda as a result of action-taken by the Council where the U.S. supported the proposal. An effort to achieve that purpose (perhaps in conjunction with other steps to give Italy some status in the UN), even if unsuccessful, would be further, needed evidence of our support of Italy and should further weaken Soviet stock and communist influence in Italy.

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Admittedly a proposal for Charter amendment would be designed to deal with this particular problem. However, it is believed that the principle involved is a correct one, namely that there are states other than those which happen to be members of UN which have a very real part to play in important fields of UN activity, and that this fact should be recognized by appropriate organizational adjustment if membership cannot be obtained.

iii. grant to italy of privilege of participating in general assembly committees

A third step would be the grant of a privilege of participation in General Assembly committees on which all members are represented. This step might be taken in case the two steps described above meet with opposition or, preferably as an interim measure pending admission to membership. The resolution, described above, requesting Security Council reconsideration of Italy’s application might well provide that, pending Italy’s admission to membership, it would be granted a seat in each committee on which all members are represented, with the opportunity to speak and propose motions and resolutions, at least on substantive matters.

There would be some difficulty in basing this measure solely on Italy’s trusteeship responsibilities. However, it could be argued that Italy’s interests arising from its trusteeship functions ramify into the fields of various committees other than the Fourth. Especially, the work of specialized agencies and proposals in the economic and social fields affect trusteeship territories. Although the connection with the work of the political and budgetary committees would he more tenuous, an argument could also be made in those fields. The general position would be that Italy’s interests and responsibilities as an administering power touch so many activities and discussions of the United Nations that the only way of providing adequately for Italy’s participation in such activities and discussions is to grant a general privilege of participation.

While there would probably be objection to considering the non-trusteeship aspects of the resolution in that committee, it could be argued that all members are represented there and will be represented in the plenary meeting which would give final consideration to it. Any proposal for giving rights of participation to non-members generally would be referred to another committee.

This suggestion would be a means of giving limited application to the idea of granting participation in the General Assembly to non-Members. It might be more palatable to other members, such as the UK, than a proposal drawn up in general terms.

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[Enclosure 3]

Participation by Non-Members in the General Assembly


Assuming that it will not be practicable this year to secure any arrangement to admit new members to the UN, what arrangements far participation by non-member States in the GA might the U.S. support?

Possible Alternative Arrangements

  • (1) The GA might adopt a resolution providing that, upon specific request therefor by a non-member State, the GA might grant the State a general privilege of participating without vote in committees on which all members are represented;
    • (a) Participation might include speaking under the same rules as members on any matter before the committee, and of making proposals on matters of substance but not of procedure.
    • (b) More limited participation might involve the presentation of views on the substance of each item when expressly permitted by the committee.
  • (2) The GA might adopt a general resolution authorizing the committees to grant participation in their proceedings by non-member States, leaving the exact scope of participation to be determined by the committee in each case.
  • (3) The GA might, under the item on Italy’s full participation in the Trusteeship Council, grant to Italy the privilege set forth in (1) (a) above; if other non-member States subsequently requested the same privilege, the GA could decide on these requests (see separate paper on special provisions concerning Italy).
  • (4) As an alternative to any general arrangement the U.S. might, more liberally than heretofore, support in each committee the grant of participation in that committee to a non-member State in the discussion of particular matters in which the State was interested.


Agenda. Unless the SC considers membership applications, or a member requests inclusion of an item on membership or on participation of non-members, the only occasion for considering proposals in this field would be the item from the Trusteeship Council concerning the question of the full participation of Italy in that Council. In case we wish the general question of non-member participation considered, it would probably be desirable for some member to submit, before September 6, an item on membership or participation by non-members, for inclusion in the provisional agenda. Discussion of a [Page 328] proposal to permit participation by non-members would be likely to lead to consideration of membership applications.

Scope of Participation. It is unlikely that any lesser degree of participation than those mentioned above would be acceptable to non-member States. It has been suggested that, in order to avoid charges of setting up a substitute status to that of membership, the arrangement not involve participation in plenary meetings or the assumption of obligations by non-member States.

Non-Member States to Which Privilege Might be Granted. Any of the above alternatives might be granted to any of the nine non-Soviet applicants and, at some point, to the following countries that have not yet applied: Libya, Spain, the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Japan, and the Federal Republic of Germany. Special political problems would arise in the cases of the various non-applicants.

It would probably be impractical at present to support the grant of the above privileges to Soviet satellites. If we initiated discussion of possible arrangements for non-member participation, it would be necessary to make this clear, since this would be a point of primary interest to other members.

Accordingly, the only procedure that would now be acceptable would be one which provided for a separate decision in each case by the GA.

Italy—the outstanding candidate—has thus far indicated no desire for this privilege and has apparently regarded it as “second-class membership”. However, no concrete proposal has been suggested to Italy and its attitude might depend on the circumstances in which the offer was made. If the privilege were granted to one state, such as Italy, other non-Soviet countries might request it. It is understood that FE has some concern lest even the discussion of an arrangement for non-member participation give emphasis, prematurely, to the problems of some countries within their area or add to the difficulties that now exist concerning their status. The privilege could be granted to Italy—and restricted, for the time being, to Italy—most easily if considered in connection with the item concerning Italy’s full participation in the Trusteeship Council (see separate paper).

The general purpose of an arrangement of this kind for participation by non-members in the GA would be to take a step toward breaking the strangle hold of the USSR on the membership question.

Such a proposal—particularly if so drawn up as to be of general applicability—would arouse controversy. It would be taken as being a measure which, in itself, provides little advantage to non-members and, therefore, as being probably intended as merely the first step toward bringing non-members into much fuller participation in the UN.

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If proposals for non-member participation are to be discussed, this might well be as part of the membership problem. Discussion might take place with several delegations from different areas, and subsequently with non-member governments. If an item is to be submitted, this should be before September 6.

  1. The following notation, presumably by Mr. Sandifer, appears on the source text: “Mr. Wainhouse: Here are papers for JDH”. Reference is to Director of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs Wainhouse and Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs John D. Hickerson.
  2. Not attached. UNA apparently decided to set forth the Department of State position in a memorandum from Hickerson to the United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin); see p. 330.
  3. The FE position was set forth in a memorandum by Miss Ruth Bacon, United Nations Adviser, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, July 9, not printed (320/7–951).