ODA Files, Lot 60 D 512

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Jones) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)


Discussions on Dependent Area Affairs With Non-Administering Countries

I refer to Mr. Gerig’s memorandum of June 11, 1951,1 which you approved, setting forth the plans for holding discussions on dependent area affairs with non-administering members of the United Nations. UND, assisted by appropriate officers from the geographical bureaus, has now held discussions with representatives of the missions of all NEA countries with the exception of Ethiopia. Discussions were also held with representatives of the missions of China, Thailand and the Philippines. It was not found possible to arrange to hold discussions with the Burmese and Indonesians because of the imminence of the opening of the General Assembly at the time the missions of these countries were invited to consult. Copies of the memorandum setting forth United States views, however, were transmitted to the missions of these two countries. As you are aware, it was decided to hold the consultations with a majority of ARA countries in the field and despatches from our missions indicate that most of these discussions have now been held.

I consider that the discussions were successful and that they resulted in a greater appreciation on the part of the representatives of the participating governments of the United States positions with respect to the consideration of dependent area questions by the United Nations. I am not certain, however, that the favorable outcome of the discussions will counter the intensification of the anti-colonial trend which will undoubtedly result from the raising of the Moroccan question2 and other recent developments in the Middle East. Consequently, I fear that the general atmosphere in the Fourth Committee will not appear to have been altered substantially as the result of the non-administering talks.

There is attached a report summarizing briefly the views set forth by the non-administering representatives on the more important subjects discussed. As would be expected, it was the consensus of the majority of the representatives that the progress of dependent peoples towards self-government or independence was too slow and should be accelerated. One point which emerged during most of the conversations in [Page 621]which I participated impressed me greatly: the non-administering powers made a clear distinction between the United States and the other administering powers. While their statements along these lines must be discounted to a certain degree, I am still convinced that the non-administering powers do not consider the United States as motivated by the same considerations in the colonial field as the other administering powers.

I think that we should give consideration to the advisability of carrying out similar consultations prior to the 1952 meeting of the General Assembly. If this suggestion is adopted, I strongly recommend that the invitations to consult be transmitted at a sufficiently early date to permit the missions here in Washington to obtain the views of their governments on the topics to be discussed. It was unfortunate, in my opinion, that in the consultations which we carried out this year the great majority of the representatives stated that they had not had time to obtain the views of their government and that, consequently, it should be understood that they were expressing only their personal views.


Summary of Colonial Talks With Non-Administering Powers of the UN

In an attempt to summarize the views expressed by representatives of the non-administering members of the UN in the Colonial Policy Talks, several factors must be kept in mind. In some cases the representatives who were called in were unprepared to state the official views of their governments on the topics discussed. They were also unprepared through lack of background knowledge to set forth even their personal views on some questions. It is believed that in those cases where unofficial views were expressed there will not be too wide a divergence with the official attitudes and positions of the respective governments.

In many cases it is noted that the area of agreement stated with respect to the United States position is more apparent than real. It is believed that this is especially true with respect to the Latin American countries, with whom talks were held in the field.

Keeping these considerations in mind, we have made an attempt to summarize the talks by cataloging those positive points which were made during the talks and which reflect an attitude somewhat different than the United States position. Absence of a country from the list of those who maintained a certain position does not necessarily imply agreement by that nation with the United States position. Reticence and the often resulting apparent agreement might be caused by lack of instruction, background knowledge, or both.

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general questions

The most persistent theme in the discussions with non-administering states on colonial problems was that the achievement by non-self-governing peoples of independence or self-government should be expedited. In a few cases the suggestion was advanced that a timetable be set up for the achievement of these objectives (Syria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand).

The Representative of Pakistan expressed his belief that the prestige of the UN was diminishing because of many compromise solutions reached by the General Assembly and the failure of that body to take a clear-cut stand based on the right or wrong of any given issue. His evaluation of the British and French colonial administrations is worth noting: whereas in the colonies French administration was superior because of the absence of discrimination, the French government in the Metropole, unlike the British government, was bad because of its lack of organization and fixed responsibility.

The Liberian Representative was critical of the lack of training in self-government given by the Administering Members to their African colonials.

The Representative of India expressed the view that the inhabitants of trust territories could be made more aware of their special status.

In response to a statement that the Trusteeship Council was functioning effectively, the Indian Representative pointed to the growing tendency of the General Assembly to assume the functions of other UN bodies which were not functioning effectively. The “Uniting For Peace” resolution was cited as an example.

south west africa

The opinion that the General Assembly should take a firm stand on this question was expressed by the Representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Cuba. The Pakistani Representative thought that the primary short-range problem of the UN in the field of dependent area affairs was to prevail upon the Union of South Africa to submit reports.

italian participation

The Pakistani Representative thought it wrong to assign any administrative functions in Africa to Italy. The Representative of Syria expressed the same opinion based on the belief that Italy’s colonial attitude had not changed. The Indian Representative believed that the only solution for Italian participation lay in agreement by the Members of the Security Council on the whole question of Membership.

trusteeship council procedures

The Representative of Saudi Arabia thought it would be unwise to attempt to restrict General Assembly discussion of Trusteeship Council [Page 623]procedures. The officer of the Cuban Foreign Office with whom the discussions were held emphasized the broad powers of discussion available to the General Assembly.

transmission of political information

The Representatives of Saudi Arabia, China and Uruguay while recognizing that the Charter did not specifically require the submission of political information on the non-self-governing territories thought that it would be desirable for Administering Members to submit such information voluntarily. The Representative of Saudi Arabia suggested that the United States urge other Administering Members to follow its example in submitting this information.

factors which should be taken into account in deciding if a territory is or is not a territory whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government

The Representatives of the Arab States almost without exception expressed the view that it was not desirable to establish criteria of too restrictive a nature in determining if a territory is ready for self-government or independence. For example, the Iraqi Representative maintained that lack of political and economic development should not be given too much emphasis in determining whether colonial peoples were ready for self-government.

One of the arguments most frequently advanced against the establishment of criteria of too restrictive a nature, was that in many independent countries the level of social, economic and educational advancement was low. One Arab Representative compared the stage of development in the independent country of Yemen with that of Morocco, and concluded that, since Yemen was independent, Morocco which was much more advanced was also entitled to independence.

The Representative of Lebanon did not believe that the final determination of whether or not a territory is self-governning should be left exclusively to the Administering Member concerned. The Indian Representative thought that before the General Assembly approved a change in status it should make certain that the wishes of the people concerned had been considered.

  1. Not printed.
  2. For documentation regarding the Moroccan question at the Sixth General Assembly, see pp. 135 ff.