IO Files

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Gerig)


Subject: South West Africa

Participants: Prince Wan, Ambassador of Thailand
Mr. Benjamin Gerig, UND

At the suggestion of Assistant Secretary Hickerson I discussed with Prince Wan, Chairman of the United Nations Committee on South West Africa, as to the manner in which the forthcoming negotiations with the representative of the Union of South Africa might be conducted. I said that our feeling in the Department was that these negotiations could best be conducted in private since that would give the conferees greater ease in putting forward suggestions. We felt that since the whole report in any event would be submitted to the General Assembly for public discussion, it would greatly facilitate the negotiating state if conversations could be carried on in an informal manner and without press and public attendance.

Prince Wan said that his own views were identical with ours and that he also believed that such a procedure would commend itself to the other members. He said he was going to New York shortly and would be seeing the other members of the Committee and try to get [Page 682]them to accept this procedure. I said this would be very satisfactory to us.

Prince Wan felt that perhaps the first meeting on June 18 might be an open meeting in which the representative of the Union and members of the Committee might wish to make some general remarks of a hopeful nature but without going into detail. His thought was that he would then adjourn the meeting and state that the Committee would go into executive session for the purpose of exchanging views on the way in which the negotiations could be carried forward. He believed that there would be no further difficulty and that there would be no need for issuing communiqués and for him, as Chairman, to contact the press. If such need should develop however, he would take it up with the Committee before making any decision.1

  1. The Ad Hoc Committee on South West Africa held 11 meetings between June 18–July 12. For a summary of the negotiations conducted between South African representatives and the committee during that period, see paragraphs 13–24 of the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on South West Africa to the General Assembly, dated October 8, 1951, in United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixth Session, Annexes, fascicule for agenda item 38. For a summary of the position of the Union of South Africa, see paragraph 25 of the Ad Hoc Committee’s Report. For the text of a “counter-proposal” adopted for submission by the committee to the Union Government, see paragraph 27 of the Report.

    Relevant public documentation relating to all subsequent aspects of the South West Africa question in 1951 is in the above-named fascicule, hereafter cited as GA (VI), Annexes, agenda item 38.