350/12–651: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Union of South Africa (Gallman) to the Secretary of State


155. I called on Secy for External Affairs Forsyth this morning for purpose of introducing Robertson.1 After a brief exchange of pleasantries. Forsyth embarked on discussion of UN SWA issue and the “Illegality”, in the absence of any authority provision in the Charter, of the Trusteeship Comite action in inviting Scott2 to appear before it. In response to my observation concerning difficulty of getting Cabinet consideration on important developments, with Prime Min already in Capetown and other Cabinet members preparing to leave, he stated categorically that Cabinet had met some days ago and made full decision on its position if Trusteeship Comite “Carried the matter too far.” He stated that Union was more determined than ever to face this issue squarely and gave as reasons:

Illegality, in absence of Charter provision, of Trusteeship Comite’s action to invite Scott and Herero chiefs to appear for a hearing.
Act [Fact?] Herero tribe in SWA represent only limited minority of natives in territory while endeavoring to exercise claim over large part of territory.

At this point discussion was interrupted by telephone call from Prime Min in Capetown and we excused ourselves from his office. Upon our return Forsyth, intimating that subj of discussion had been UN [Page 706] SWA issue, stated firmly Union wld not only refrain from participation in Trusteeship Comite while issue being considered but that, if Comite action pushed “too far,” decision concerning Union withdrawal from entire UN might become imminent. I interjected that this wld be not only most unfortunate for Union, but also for all of us who were joined in common cause. He proceeded to reiterate that treatment being accorded Union “Completely illegal under Charter” and was almost unbearable to his govt, particularly coming on top of UN action on Indian issue, a “domestic issue.”3

Forsyth stated that as an internationalist he was being placed in most difficult position in a govt which came to power as strong nationalist group, but which fortunately had wisdom at least to try out participating in intl cooperation on probs confronting us all today. Many of Union nationalist leaders were now pointing to error of this course, were thoroughly dissatisfied and now seemed determined to call a halt in face of mounting “mistreatment” from UN Trusteeship Comite. His people were beginning to feel that Union is being treated as small and unimportant country. When France raised objection to Trusteeship Comite inquiry concerning its territories I [it?] promptly dropped from consideration,4 but comite virtually ignoring protests from Union. I assured him at this point US considered Union neither small nor unimportant. Contributions to West cause, I added, were fully appreciated by me and my govt.

We were impressed by frankness and deep feeling with which Forsyth talked to us.

Sent Dept 155, rptd info Paris unn (for USDel).

  1. David A. Robertson, First Secretary of Embassy, was appointed on October 24, 1951.
  2. Regarding the Reverend Mr. Michael Scott, see footnote 5, p. 676.
  3. This refers to the agenda item regularly inscribed on the agenda of the General Assembly by India, concerning the treatment of people of Indian origin in the Union of South Africa; see pp. 842 ff.
  4. This refers to a protest in the Fourth Committee on November 23 by the representative of France, that the Fourth Committee was not competent to discuss political conditions in a Non-self-governing Territory, in this case French Morocco; and the withdrawal of the French Delegation from the meeting. For documentation on the question of the competence of the Fourth Committee, see pp. 655 ff.