ODA Files, Lot 60 D 512

Discussion Brief for Bilateral Talks on Colonial Policy To Be Held at London and Paris (Agenda Items III (a) and III (b))1


Item III (a)—Appraisal of United Nations activities in the colonial field during 1950–51 in the light of the consultations on colonial policy held during July 1950

Item III (b)—Ways of improving the atmosphere in the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly

I. Problem: To appraise United Nations activities in the colonial field during 1950–51 in light of consultations on colonial policy held during 1950; to determine ways of improving atmosphere in Fourth Committee of GA.

II. Recommended United States Position:

A. We should appreciate that public opinion in various administering countries differs in its approach to dependent area problems. For example, our public opinion, because of our history, shares much of approach of non-administering Members and we recognize that opinion expressed by Australia and New Zealand is more in accord with our opinion than is that of some of other administering powers. Accordingly, we do not expect administering powers can adopt identical approaches in all cases to dependent area problems arising in UN.

B. Colonial policy talks held last year, and more positive approach taken in UN should be judged highly successful as evidenced by:

Improved atmosphere in Fourth Committee; and
Numerous favorable comments by various non-administering delegations regarding cooperative attitude shown by administering powers.

C. Policy followed in Fourth Committee last year by administering powers should be repeated and further developed during Sixth GA.

Our experience in Fifth GA demonstrated that it was at least partially responsible for ability of administering powers to prevent GA from adopting more extreme resolutions.
Moreover, seemingly uncooperative or reticent attitude also offers base for effective propaganda by Communist bloc.

D. In determining their policies with respect to UN consideration of dependent area questions we, the administering powers, should bear in mind that

There is among majority UN Members deep concern for welfare of dependent peoples and feeling of responsibility for accelerating their progress through UN channels as rapidly as possible;
We are greatly out-numbered by non-administering powers and are obliged to face opposition which is, in part, ill-informed and which contains segment of immovable and often times influential Members who are convinced that administration of dependent peoples by metropolitan powers could not be considered good under any circumstances;
As results of beliefs current in number non-administering countries that no colonial administration is morally defensible unless clearly desired by dependent peoples concerned, administering powers obliged to demonstrate to the world at large that interests of peoples presently dependent, as well as rest of world, can best be served by enlightened colonial administrations working towards increased self-government;
Our records of colonial administration are, on whole, extremely good and will stand up under scrutiny; and
Many non-administering powers, having experienced colonial relationship, have suggestions to make with regard dependent area administration. Some of these suggestions are worthwhile, some are subject to serious practical objections. Full exchange of views with non-administering powers, outside as well as within UN sessions, may serve to persuade non-administering powers to modify or withhold introduction of some of their proposals.

E. U.S. fully appreciates U.K.’s experience and record of achievement in dependent area field and British aversion to self-praise. However, U.S. believes situation calls for full and frank, although modest, presentation of facts of accomplishment, in order to:

Win friendly support of largest possible number of non-administering powers;
Avoid being accused of being uncooperative and hiding facts; and
Utilize Committee’s time for constructive exchange of information and to prevent, if possible, waste of Committee’s time by irresponsible and garrulous delegates, such as Cuban Delegate at last session.

F. We believe that it would be good tactics for administering powers to:

Commend, as appropriate, achievements of other administering powers by citing specific examples of general interest; and
Express constructive criticism from time to time of other administering powers which would be answered frankly and accepted without misunderstanding.

G. We are anxious that gains made in Fourth Committee during Fifth GA should be maintained and augmented during Sixth Assembly. We are convinced that only by keeping performance of UN representatives of administering powers on high standard will there be opportunity to pursue constructive policies for dependent peoples with minimum of criticism and fomenting of dissatisfaction.

  1. This and similar papers are not located chronologically; the arrangement is by agenda item number (see memorandum on the agreed agenda, supra).