Minutes of Nineteenth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Paris, November 26, 1951
[Here follows list of persons (48) present.]
Mr. Taylor asked Mr. Gerig to report on Committee 4 developments. Mr. Gerig reviewed the highlights of the French walkout in that Committee after the Egyptian delegate had discussed political matters with regard to Morocco in considerable detail in connection with the debate on the report, of the Special Article 73(e) Committee and the Secretariat summaries of the reports of the administering authorities on non-selfgoverning territories. Mr. Gerig recalled that in the past Committee 4 had allowed some political remarks to be made but that Delegations had generally adhered to a “gentlemen’s agreement” that [Page 671] such remarks should be strictly germane to the item under discussion: In this case the Egyptian had gone too far. After the French had walked out in protest over this development, the Iraqi had introduced a motion which stated that the Fourth Committee was acting within its proper limits in discussing political matters in connection with a discussion of the reports submitted to the Special Committee under Article 73(e). It was feared that the results of such an explicit statement as to Committee 4’s competence would be very dangerous for the proper functioning of either the Special Committee or of Committee 4 itself. The UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and of course France, were extremely concerned about these developments. The non-administering powers on the Committee were equally adamant in insisting that the powers of the Committee should be spelled out in the proposed fashion.
Mr. Gerig stated that an attempt was underway to persuade the Chairman of the Committee 4 to rule the Iraqi motion out of order, on the grounds that it involved a constitutional question of a very broad character and was not at all germane to the agenda item under which it was being introduced.
Dr. Tobias said that he wanted to see Urena1 use the power of his prerogatives as Chairman to declare the motion out of order, and that he would be prepared to raise the point of order himself if necessary. A speech which the US Representative could make to this point had been prepared. Dr. Tobias stated, however, that he was not too enthusiastic about making any great polemical endeavor in this regard since there were certain considerations which gave him pause. He found it difficult to erase from the back of his mind the recollection that the United States itself had once been a non-self governing territory. Since those days, of course, the US had grown in size and stature, and had also acquired dominion over several territories. The US was justifiably proud of its record of enlightened policy vis-à-vis these territories, and ought therefore to be extremely careful in how it dealt with such problems in the context of the present day. He added that it was obvious to him that recommendations for reporting political matters under 73(e) had been omitted for reasons other than mere chance. He felt the intention, nevertheless, was to examine these reports and make recommendations thereon in the light of all the necessary considerations, which of course would have to include the political.
Mr. Sandifer stressed the importance of disposing of the Iraqi proposal on a procedural basis and noted that we had solid grounds on which to do this. In view of the importance of our relations with the UK and France, it would be exceedingly unwise to consider or deal [Page 672] with the resolution on a substantive basis, the UK and France were, in fact, claiming that the US was not doing enough in colonial matters to back them up. Although this claim was unjustified, it was nevertheless being made. Should there be a showdown on the substance of this issue, the US might well have to stand in support of the right of the Fourth Committee to discuss the political aspects of the economic, social and educational problems presented to it.
Mr. Fisher2 liked the legal position as outlined by Mr. Gerig, and felt that it was so valid that it would be unfortunate for the US position to lose on a vote. He wondered how the voting strength lined up. Mr. Sandifer said that it would take a good deal of active political liaison work to ensure acceptance of our position; Mr. Gerig noted that if we could convince Padilla Nervo and Urena of the correctness of our position, we could probably swing the Latin American vote.
Mr. McKeever3 wanted the US to get some middle country like India to join the US in raising the point of order, to avoid the appearance that the US was siding with the colonial against the non-colonial powers. Mr. Sandifer responded that although this was technically a point of order, it was not really the US intention to operate on that basis. The proposed statement referred to earlier would be given, according to his understanding, only in the event that a vote was likely to be taken. The current attempts were to keep this matter from being voted upon, at all.
Mr. Plitt4 said that while it sometimes appeared that the Indians and others could influence the Arabs, in a case like this the Arabs were presenting a united front. Ambassador Sayre feared that Committee Four’s future would be jeopardized in the extreme if present developments were allowed to continue. The Iraqi resolution seemed to him completely out of order and if adopted would lead to a “quagmire” of difficulties. He offered to talk with Urena and felt he could convince him to accept our position. If that approach did not succeed, Ambassador Sayre thought the US ought to demand a ruling, and if it should go against our position, appeal the ruling and demand a vote thereon. Thereafter, the delegation approved the approach outlined by Mr. Gerig.
[Here follow brief comments about another matter.]
- M. Henriquez Ureña (Dominican Republic), Chairman of the Fourth Committee.↩
- Adrian S. Fisher, Legal Adviser of the Department of State, member of the Delegation’s Advisory Staff.↩
- Porter McKeever, head of the U.S. Delegation’s Information Office.↩
- Edwin A. Plitt, U.S. member and president of the International Commission of Control, International Zone of Tangier.↩