ODA Files, Lot 60 D 512

Discussion Brief for Bilateral Talks on Colonial Policy To Be Held at London and Paris (Agenda Item IV (b) 9)


Item IV, (b), 9—Indian Proposal on Fourth Committee Procedure (simultaneous discussion of developments in both trust and non-self-governing territories)

I. Problem: To determine U.S. position on Indian proposal that since functional (economic, social and educational) problems are essentially same in both trust and non-trust territories, there should be common discussion of such problems, it being provided that ensuing recommendations would be differentiated to take account of constitutional differences under Charter. Proposal was withdrawn last year for lack of support for opposite reasons from both administering (France, Belgium and Denmark) and non-administering Members (Brazil, Venezuela, Byelorussia, Chile, Mexico).

II. Recommended United States Position:

A. U.S. initially felt that since Committee Four will, in any case, discuss these functional problems in relation to both trust and non-trust territories, single rather than double discussion would have advantages. Following arguments can be made in favor of proposal:

It would save time;
It would subject administering authorities to only one “barrage”;
It should decrease emphasis on political aspect only of colonial problems;
Proposed procedure might also help develop desirable differentiation between role of GA (general principles and trends) and that of TC (attention to specific territories) and would avoid duplication; and
We have felt that Indian proposal had further merit of inscribing in resolution “marked difference” between responsibilities of GA in respect of Chapters XI and XII of Charter. We understood initial UK reaction at 1950 Assembly was similar to ours.

B. Further reflection has caused U.S. to have some doubts as to proposal. Following arguments can be advanced against proposal:

Single discussion of two types of territories might tend to blur Charter distinction;
Question arises as to whether Fourth Committee or specialized agencies furnish most appropriate forum for technical discussions in economic, social and educational fields;
While rational, proposal is perhaps not rational enough since functional problems are not really peculiar to non-self-governing and trust territories and might really best be discussed on regional basis; and
Since such functional problems cannot be exhaustively or intensively discussed in Fourth Committee, their discussion in relation to trust territories, where GA has unquestioned responsibilities, might be regarded as sufficiently representative to render similar discussion regarding Chapter XI territories redundant.

C. Department considers question premature in light of last year’s reactions and does not propose to raise it. However, should it be raised again, we now intend to assume attitude of indifference during debate, consider abstention in the vote, and accept either procedure because it seems whatever valid arguments can be leveled against single discussion can be equally leveled against double discussion, if not more so.