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


Subject: The Ewe Question

Participants: Sir Alan Burns, U.K. Representative on the Trusteeship Council
Mr. Gerald Meade, Counselor, British Embassy
Mr. J. K. Thompson, Colonial Attaché, British Embassy
Mr. J. O. Rennie, First Secretary, British Embassy Assistant Secretary Hickerson
Mr. Durward Sandif er, UNA
Mr. Ward Allen, EUR
Mr. Benjamin Gerig, UND

Sir Alan Burns called at the Department at his request to discuss the steps which have been taken on the Ewe question, which is now before the Trusteeship Council, since the previous session of the Council. Sir Alan said that although the Council resolution urged the United Kingdom and French Governments to get together to make substantive proposals at the Council before July 1, he regretted to say that the two Governments had not yet gotten together on the subject. The United Kingdom had offered to go to Paris or to receive officials [Page 575] of the French Government in London, but no meeting was held so far.

Mr. Hickerson said we were hopeful that the two Governments would find a substantive solution which would be acceptable both to the Ewe people and to the other Members of the United Nations. He regretted that this had not yet been done but expressed the hope that between now and July 1 an acceptable solution would be found. He said that he personally was not familiar with all the details of the problem. But looking at it without this detailed information, he wondered what the obstacles were against regarding the Ewe nation as a separate people with possible nationhood as an objective. Sir Alan said that there were at least three objections to such a course: first, the Ewe people themselves were divided; secondly, it would prejudice the future of the inland tribes whose ultimate rights had also to be taken into account; and third, it could not be a viable nation.

Sir Alan then referred to the summary report of the local Consultative Commission and said that some of its recommendations for fiscal, economic, and cultural amelioration of the Ewe people seemed to offer some constructive suggestions. He wondered whether the Department had yet received a copy of the summary report and when informed that we had not, he left a copy for our information. He went on to say that it was the view of his Government, and himself personally, that the only feasible next step on the Ewe question was in effect to maintain the status quo. Any alternative solution was worse and would be found to be impracticable.

Mr. Gerig questioned whether the summary report of the Consultative Commission would be acceptable either to the non-administering Members of the Trusteeship Council or to a majority of the Ewe people themselves since the latter had boycotted the meetings of the Consultative Commission and the report, therefore, would be regarded by them as not representing their views. Sir Alan replied that these Ewe leaders had an opportunity to be present but refused to avail themselves of it and therefore they could only blame themselves. Mr. Gerig thought that even so it was doubtful whether this view would be accepted by the majority of the United Nations Members or the most vocal Ewe leaders.

A general discussion of the problem followed but no clear course of action seemed to develop. In this discussion, however, a possible long-range development was forecast by Sir Alan in which he thought that since the Gold Coast had now been given almost complete self-government, the next steps would be that British Togoland would wish to be more closely associated with the Gold Coast, and later it was probable that a majority of the inhabitants of French Togo would likewise see the possibility of attaining self-government earlier by [Page 576] associating themselves with British Togo and the Gold Coast. It was recognized, however, that this would take time and that there would be serious difficulties with the French in agreeing to such a development.

On the matter of tactics it was suggested that any proposals which the British alone, or the British and French Delegations to the Trusteeship Council bring forward should not be described as “maintaining the status quo”. It was generally agreed that any resolution should give a list of economic, fiscal and cultural ameliorations which could be put into effect to obviate the difficulties complained of by the Ewe leaders in regard to all manner of frontier restrictions.

Mr. Hickerson thanked Sir Alan and his associates for giving us this information even though it was less positive than had been hoped for. He said we would continue to do what we could to assist the British and French Delegations to arrive at a solution satisfactory to a majority.