Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Trusteeship Affairs (Cargo)


Subject: The Ewe Problem

Participants: Ambassador Roger Garreau, French Representative on the Trusteeship Council
M. Paulin Baptiste, French Legal Expert who investigated Consultative Commission elections in French Togoland
M. Gabriel Rosaz, Attaché, French Embassy
Mr. Benjamin Gerig, UND1
Mr. Jefferson Jones, UND2
Mr. William Cargo, UND

Ambassador Garreau, at his request, called on Mr. Gerig to discuss the Ewe problem which is to be considered in the current session of the Trusteeship Council. He brought with him M. Baptiste, who had just returned from French Togoland where he had been sent by the French Government to investigate the elections to the Consultative Commission held pursuant to the resolution adopted by the General Assembly last Fall. Ambassador Garreau handed to Mr. Gerig a copy of the report prepared by M. Baptiste and said that the report was being sent to the Secretariat for distribution to the members of the Trusteeship Council as the report of the French Government on the conduct of the elections. He summarized the report by saying that no election irregularities on the part of officials had been found, although the pro-unification C.U.T. (Comité de l’Unité Togolaise) had exerted great pressure on the population during the election campaigns.

Ambassador Garreau then indicated that the purpose of his call was to explain the proposals which France and the United Kingdom intended to present jointly to the Trusteeship Council on the Ewe question and to express the hope that the United States would be able to support these proposals. (Ambassador Garreau outlined the Anglo-French proposals as presented to the Departmentin Aide-Mémoires recently received from the French and British Embassies. The plan calls for the further enlargement of the Standing Consultative Commission by 13 members, 8 to be selected for French Togoland by the C.U.T. and 5 to be selected for British Togoland by the existing parties in proportion to their present strength in the Consultative Commission.) In explaining the basis of the Anglo-French proposals, Ambassador Garreau stated that the two governments had rejected [Page 539] certain other alternatives. He said that completely new elections had been rejected, because that would imply that the administering authorities had conducted the elections improperly. Such a solution was therefore regarded by Ambassador Garreau as inadmissible. The two administering authorities had also rejected the possibility of annulling the elections in French Togoland for the six seats which clearly would have gone to the C.U.T. had they participated in the second stage of the elections. He pointed out that the supporters of the anti-unification Progress Party (the Pedro Olympio group), who were now occupying those seats, had complied fully with the electoral regulations; and the French Government felt it difficult to unseat them merely because the C.U.T. did not participate in the second stage of the elections. Accordingly, the French Government had concluded that the most feasible way to make a further effort to secure the cooperation of pro-unification Ewes was to allow the six Progress Party supporters to retain their seats and, as the Anglo-French proposal provides, to increase the membership of the Consultative Commission by adding C.U.T. representatives. He hoped that the Trusteeship Council would urge the C.U.T. to participate on this basis in the work of the Consultative Commission and that the United States would lend its support to this plan.

Mr. Gerig pointed out that we were faced with the practical problem of whether or not the Ewes who favored Ewe unification would participate on the basis of the Anglo-French proposals. If they would not participate, he wondered how it would be possible for the Consultative Commission to ascertain the “real wishes and interests” of all the inhabitants of the two Togolands as its terms of reference required. Mr. Gerig said that the new Anglo-French proposal would commend itself to us if it showed promise of Ewe participation. He then referred to the increasing difficulties which would likely arise for France if the Ewe question continued to be an issue in the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly. We felt that every effort should be made to avoid the Ewe problem developing into an insoluble problem for the United Nations. He felt that this would place France as well as the other administering members in a most difficult position. The United States wished to do everything possible to help find a practical solution of the long-standing Ewe problem.

Mr. Gerig inquired what were the long-range objectives of France with regard to the Ewes and what were their ideas as to how the question could be ultimately resolved. This question elicited no specific reply. However, Ambassador Garreau observed that questions of boundaries were not matters for consideration by the United Nations. He felt that the adoption by the Trusteeship Council of its resolution on the Ewe question in 1947 had been a mistake and implied that France might well have resorted to the domestic jurisdiction clause of [Page 540] the Charter3 at that time. Ambassador Garreau said that there were many similar boundary questions in Africa and indeed in independent states throughout the world. For example, there was the problem of the Kurds, a people who were divided among several states, who had a long historical record of existence as a people, and who generally desired separate recognition. He felt that there were many cases, such as this, where the questions required answers to be given by non-administering states.

Mr. Gerig observed that possibly other cases likewise merited attention, but that such a fact, if true, in no way argued against the strength or the desire for separate recognition held by the Ewes and of the particular necessity for taking steps to meet this desire if a very troublesome situation in West Africa were to be averted. He wondered whether thought had been given to the possibility of some kind of a Mixed Commission for the Ewe area, which would deal with common problems of local government and administration. Ambassador Garreau replied generally to this inquiry by referring to what he regarded as the dangers of the growth of Ewe nationalism. He said that to recognize the Ewe claims would be to replace the present North-South frontiers between the two Togolands by still stronger East-West frontiers. He said that this would cut off the peoples of the north from access to the sea and cause economic hardships for them. Ambassador Garreau referred also to the elections which had recently been held in the Gold Coast which, he said, had resulted in a majority of “fellow travelers” in the Gold Coast Legislature who “received their orders from the Cominform”. (The United Kingdom does not, however, assess the Gold Coast elections in this way.) He thought that the communist threat in this area should not be under-estimated and was a factor which the United States should take into account in evaluating the Anglo-French proposals.

Mr. Gerig recalled that the United States had supported the Anglo French proposals last summer to enlarge the Standing Consultative Commission only with some reluctance. He pointed out that we had been disappointed that the two administering authorities had found themselves unable to propose a substantive solution for the Ewe problem. It was therefore of considerable concern to us to see whether in fact the Consultative Commission could be made to work out as projected.

Mr. Gerig referred again to the high desirability of the administering authorities putting forth proposals that were so reasonable in character that the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly would feel that the pro-unification groups should accept them and participate in the work of the Consultative Commission. He felt that the present Anglo-French proposal left something to be desired when [Page 541] evaluated on this basis. He believed that France could well afford to be magnanimous in this situation and offer not one suggestion but perhaps two alternatives for the Ewes to choose from. If the Ewes then rejected both alternatives, their position would evoke much less sympathy. He felt that the French and British might well present the proposal which they had drawn up and, in addition, the alternative of new elections in the southern part of French Togoland where the Comite de 1’Unite Togolaise had not participated. The groups which had failed to participate in the work of the Consultative Commission might be asked to choose which alternative they preferred.

In the ensuing discussion, Ambassador Garreau indicated his willingness to consider the possibility of new elections in the southern part of French Togoland, although he and M. Baptiste thought that new elections, if held, should be confined to the six seats which were the subject of the present Anglo-French proposals. Mr. Gerig indicated that the question of precisely what districts should be covered by new elections should be examined carefully. He said that this would be done, on our part, at once, and that it might be possible to discuss the question further with the Assistant Secretary for United Nations Affairs and other interested officers of the Department. (This was agreeable to the French representatives and arrangements were made for a second meeting to be held in Mr. Sandifer’s4 office at 4:00p. m.)

  1. O. Benjamin Gerig, Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs.
  2. J. Jefferson Jones, III, Deputy Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs.
  3. Article 2(7).
  4. Durward V. Sandifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs.