Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Gerig)1


Subject: The Ewe Problem Before the Trusteeship Council

Participants: Ambassador Bonnet } French Embassy
M. Jean-Pierre Benard, First Secretary
Acting Secretary Webb
Mr. Benjamin Gerig, UND

Ambassador Bonnet, at his request, called on Secretary Webb today to present the views of his Government on the Ewe question as it is [Page 556] now developing in the Trusteeship Council. M. Bonnet, after explaining the main elements of the question, said that Paris was very much disturbed at the Department’s suggestion in regard to the possibility of holding new elections in the southern part of Togoland, even elections at the second stage. Such elections, he felt, would not only reflect on the validity of the previous election but might cause confusion and even disturbances in that area which might be very difficult to deal with. On this point the local authorities in French Togoland were particularly concerned. He went on to say that the proposal which the French and British were about to lay before the Trusteeship Council, providing for the appointment of eight additional representatives of the Ewe people to the Consultative Commission, would, in the French view, be a fair way to compensate for the non-participation of the unification parties in the recent elections. The French Delegation believed that if the United States supported this proposal it would receive a majority and thus take care of a problem which has become embarrassing for everybody. He hoped, therefore, that we would support the French proposal and not put forward the suggestion for new elections which he said his Government was unable to accept.

Secretary Webb said that our suggestion had only been made informally to the French and the British and that it was put forward in the hope of contributing to a solution of the difficulty which had arisen. The last thing in our minds was to create more difficulties for the French and we thought that by offering the Ewes who refused to participate in the previous election a choice of two alternatives, it would be more difficult for them to reject either one and would, at the same time, secure wider support in the Trusteeship Council and perhaps obviate an acrimonious discussion later in the General Assembly. As to whether the French proposal would secure a majority if the United States supported it, Mr. Webb said that our estimate of the position was somewhat different from that expressed by M. Bonnet. We believed that even with our support of the French proposal, it was not likely to get a majority in the Council. Besides, we had considerable doubt as to whether it would be accepted by the discontented Ewe leaders themselves. The result, therefore, would be to leave the problem unsolved and perhaps even aggravated. Mr. Webb assured M. Bonnet, however, that the Department and our Delegation in New York were most anxious to make a positive contribution to a solution of this question and would continue to study the French proposal and any other proposal with that in view.

M. Bonnet said he had no doubt the Department was considering the question with a view to finding a constructive solution and this was very much appreciated by his Government. The question really resolved itself in a difference in the estimates which our two Delegations [Page 557] attached to the voting position in the Trusteeship Council. Mr. Webb agreed that that difference existed and said that if we could be assured that the proposal would receive a Council majority and be accepted by the Ewe leaders, we would be most happy to support it. If, however, we were all turned down, it would be more difficult for the administering members, and especially the French and the British, immediately concerned, to find a way out of the impasse.

Mr. Webb asked Mr. Gerig if he had anything further to suggest and the latter said that our Delegation at the Trusteeship Council had not intended to speak against the French proposal. Further, what would be very helpful would be some indication that the French proposal for enlarging the Consultative Commission by appointment would be accepted by the Ewe leaders themselves. Our impression was, from indirect sources, that the Ewes were not likely to accept the French proposal, even if it secured a majority in the Council. Mr. Webb added that the strategy of our suggestion was in part that if a choice between two alternatives were offered to the Ewe leaders, it would be more difficult for them to reject both, and in doing so it would emphasize their unfairness and strengthen the position of the French and other administering members in the subsequent United Nations debates.

M. Bonnet thought that the Ewes would accept the single French proposal but if our alternative were put forward, they would almost certainly accept it in order to show that they did not need to accept the proposal made by the French. Mr. Gerig said that there was a possibility that the Ewes might reject both proposals on the ground that either one would still make them a minority in the Consultative Commission—a position which they evidently did not like. M. Bonnet and M. Benard agreed with this possibility and M. Bonnet added that the dislike of the Ewe unification party for being in a minority was probably the main reason why they boycotted the previous election.

Mr. Webb said that we fully understood the French position and he wished to repeat that our whole purpose was to be helpful in this difficulty. We would study the question further and would be glad to consult with the French in regard to any new developments. M. Bonnet concluded by saying that he would try to find out what the prospect of acceptance by the Ewes of the single French proposal would be and would let us know as soon as possible.

  1. Initialed for the Acting Secretary of State by Francis E. Meloy, Jr., of the Executive Secretariat.