L/UNA Files

Memorandum by Mr. B. Fensterwald of the Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for United Nations Affairs to the Chief of the Division of International Administration (Ingram)

Subject: Definition of “Immediate Vicinity”, UN Headquarters

Reference: Your Memorandum of November 26, 19511

This Office concurs in your opinion that a further approach to the UN should be made at this time to negotiate an agreed definition of “immediate vicinity”.

In regard to the specific questions posed, nothing has been found to alter the plain meaning of Section 11 of the Headquarters Agreement whereby the U.S. can restrict visas for persons covered by that section to the Headquarters district and its immediate vicinity.

The second question (e.g., “as to what rights of the U.S. to so restrict persons covered by Sections 11 (1) and (2) would be if the U.S. had acceded to the General Convention without pertinent reservation”) is more difficult. Sections 11(d) and 18(d) of the General Convention certainly would put definite limitations upon the U.S. in regard to issuing visas restricted to certain areas. However, we feel that the obligations in the Convention would not necessarily prevent the U.S. from issuing such visas in all cases.

This conclusion is based in part on the necessity of interpreting the exact meaning of the words “immigration restrictions” in Sections 11 (d) and 18 (d). There was probably no intent to prevent states parties to the Convention from applying any or all immigration restrictions. For example, States parties would probably not be prohibited from applying immigration restrictions, of a health or sanitary nature. The purpose of the Sections was to guarantee free access to and egress from areas in which UN functions were being performed. It would seem doubtful if this would necessarily imply in all cases that visas be issued for travel throughout the entirety of a country.

This idea is strengthened by the Preamble to the Convention:

Whereas Article 105 of the Charter of the United Nations provides … that representatives of the Members of the United Nations and officials of the Organization shall … enjoy such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the independent exercise of the functions in connection with the Organization.

It is our view that the U.S. could restrict visas in necessary cases even if the U.S. adhered to the General Convention as long as such restriction in each particular case did not interfere with the reasonably independent functioning of the person in question.

  1. Not printed (314.1/11–2651).