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) 10)


Item IV, (b), 10—Questions Relating to South Pacific Commission (For French talks only)

I. Problem: To determine position on matters pertaining to South Pacific Commission. The French have requested assurances from the United States that it will not take the position in the Commission which tends to extend its activities beyond the advisory function stated in the Agreement. The French interpretation of the Agreement is extremely rigid as compared to the other five Member Governments.

II. Recommended United States Position:

A. U.S. is gratified that Commission has been established on a sound, workable basis and that its modest, though comprehensive, Work Program is now showing promising results which will fully justify efforts being made.

B. U.S. believes application of principle of regional cooperation to economic and social problems of South Pacific area is eminently sound and economical and believes Commission can be strengthened by:

Continuation of high degree of cooperation and confidence already developed among Commissioners;
Continued development of regional approach to problems through territorial representatives at South Pacific Conference and by meetings of experts in Research Council and at technical meetings;
Consultations for development of technical assistance programs to promote development and welfare in area;
Strengthening of relations on informal basis (we see no need to formalize these unnecessarily) with UN and specialized agencies whenever cooperation of these organizations can be helpful; and
Encouraging more active interest and support by other Governments in work of Commission.

C. U.S. expresses its appreciation to French Government for:

Cooperation of French Government and Government of New Caledonia for:
assisting in the development of the headquarters site by making available funds for reconstruction of the Pentagon Building;
encouraging the building of houses for the staff and;
the generous assistance of the Officers of the Institute Français d’Océanie in the development of the Work Program.

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D. The United States Government is in sympathy with:

The difficulties encountered by the French Government in thoroughly examining the reports of experts, recommendations of technical meetings, etc., owing to the lack of adequate translation and interpretation facilities at the headquarters.
The position taken by Dr. Bugnicourt at the Third Research Council Meeting that a branch office for Economic Development should not at this time be established outside of New Caledonia, although the United States Government recognizes that Article XVI of the Agreement does permit the Commission to establish such offices at other places, and that such action may become feasible in the future.

E. The United States Government does not agree, however, with:

The French position that the Commission activities should be limited strictly to the scope of its work to advisory functions. For instance, the French Senior Commissioner has expressed concern over the undertaking of a survey for the establishment of a vocational training school. The United States is of the opinion that the Commission should not be limited to a specific survey and can continue with extended tasks to explore further the vocational training field. The detailed plan, authorized by the Commission, is really an extension of formulating expert advice as to the feasibility of a central vocational training school—in this case, detailed to take account of building plans and costs which none of the participants in the project to date were technically able to supply. With this information then, the Commission will be in a better position to make recommendations to metropolitan and territorial governments as to vocational training in the area.
The attitude of the French Government that relations with UN and the Specialized Agencies should be limited and in particular, the view of the French Government that the recommendation of the Commission as an associated organization with UNESCO would result in an organic connection with the United Nations. It is the United States view that this recommendation would not result in an organic connection with the United Nations since:
UNESCO is an international organization with its own separate treaty quite distinct from the UN, and
the relations between UNESCO and UN are defined in a special agreement which in no way impairs the autonomy of UNESCO, thereby, not infringing upon Article XV, paragraph 55 of the Agreement Establishing the South Pacific Commission.
The United States believes that these relations should be strengthened whereby the Specialized Agencies can cooperate with the Commission by
providing experts
co-sponsoring technical conferences.
Disseminating technical information upon technical problems for the benefit of the peoples of the area.
The position of the French Government that the preparation of and the publication of text books as a function of the South Pacific [Page 649] Literature Bureau is outside the Commission’s terms of reference. In our view, these operations are to develop materials for the consultative and advisory program in the social development field and no Government will be forced, collectively or individually, to take this material in the manner of executive function.

Note: In May 1951, all Commissioners received a letter from the Senior Commissioner for France on the relationship with UNESCO, the South Pacific Literature Bureau, and Vocational Training. The United States reply in detail, dated July 10, 1951, is along lines set forth in Section E above. Our position is similar to that of Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in the Commission. Any concession to the French would constitute not only a reversal of our previous positions, but also weaken the effectiveness of the Commission and create serious difficulties for us in relation to the majority of the Members of the Commission.