Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson) to the Secretary of State


Subject: Election to Fill Yugoslav Security Council Seat


The General Assembly, at its Sixth Session, will elect a Member to the Security Council to fill the seat being vacated by Yugoslavia. Greece has announced its candidacy for this seat, and Ethiopia, Lebanon, Thailand and the Philippines have been mentioned as other non-Soviet possibilities. The Soviet Union will undoubtedly put forward a satellite candidate, probably Czechoslovakia, on the theory that the Yugoslav seat belongs to a Slav state.

The United Kingdom Foreign Office strongly believes that a Slav state should be elected to succeed Yugoslavia. They have explained this position on the grounds that under a 1946 “gentleman’s agreement”, followed in succeeding years, one of the non-permanent seats was allotted to the Slavs; that the election of a Slav would help to preserve the United Nations as a world forum; and that to deny the Soviets this seat might be considered an unduly provocative act which, on top of other actions, might conceivably lead to a Soviet walk-out.

We have taken the position, and so informed the United Kingdom and others, that the United States would oppose strongly the election of a Soviet satellite and support the non-Soviet candidate which is most likely to win. We believe that the election of a Soviet satellite is unwarranted on any grounds, and maintain that the 1946 “gentleman’s agreement” was meant to apply for one year only. Further, with the USSR permanently on the Council, the seating of a Soviet satellite could jeopardize our voting margin. While it is impossible to predict what might induce a Soviet walk-out, the election of a non-Soviet candidate would not appear to be as serious an action in the eyes of the Soviet Union as past acts, such as the election of Yugoslavia rather than Czechoslovakia in 1949. We are convinced that public opinion demands a strong position against a Soviet satellite.

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British Embassy officials have asked whether they may inform the Foreign Office that the above views represent your position on this matter.


It is recommended that you authorize us to inform the British Embassy that the above views do represent your position.1

  1. On October 18 Lucius D. Battle, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, sent in to the Secretary a duplicate of this memorandum, under a “chit” which read: “Mr. Secretary: The original copy of the attached memorandum seems to be lost. I feel certain that this went in to you and that you approved it, but, lest my memory be faulty, did you approve the memo? LDB”. The Secretary did not indicate “Yes” or “No” in either of the spaces provided.