IO Files

Minutes of Seventeenth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Paris, November 23, 1951


[Here follow list of persons (47) present1 and discussion of a prior agenda item.]

2. Security Council Slate. Mr. Taylor explained that of the three seats to be vacated, that of Ecuador had only one possible candidate, Chile, which was the choice of the LA caucus. For the seat of India, only Pakistan was a candidate. The Yugoslav seat offered the only difficulty. The candidacy of the Philippines had in effect been withdrawn, leaving only Greece and Byelo-Russia. The US position had been and continued to be to oppose any satellite for this seat. The so-called “gentleman’s agreement” of 1946 was only applicable for that session and for the elections of that time. There was no justification for a second Soviet bloc seat on the Council on the basis of proportional representation within the UN or from the point of view of contribution to the work of the UN or support for its actions on behalf of international peace and security. Furthermore, the functioning of the SC would be disrupted considerably if an additional Soviet bloc member were sitting thereon. Another extremely important reason was, of course, that American public opinion would never understand how the US could allow such a development. In view of these considerations, the US position had been to support in the final analysis the candidate which had the best chance of defeating the Soviet candidate.

With this in mind, the US had been faced with the candidacies of Thailand, the Philippines (as latecomers) and Greece. The first two had withdrawn, and the Greeks had been out garnering considerable support. The last estimate available indicated that Greece had about 20 certain votes and some 16 possible votes already. The chief opponents of Greece for this seat had been the UK, the Commonwealth following the UK lead, and certain Western European countries. Now, however, the UK had come around, bringing most of the Commonwealth with her, as well as some of the Western European countries. The Scandinavians were not yet certain, but it appeared from all impressions available that Greece would fall just short of the necessary 2/3rds vote on the first ballot. In view of this considerable support for Greece, the staff recommended that the Delegation decide to support and vote for Greece.

[Page 98]

Mr. Ross added that the Byelo-Russians were certain to obtain six votes, i.e., the five of the Soviet bloc plus Sweden. Miss Gough stated that she had no information on the voting intentions of India or Pakistan; she added that perhaps the Norwegians and Danes would vote for Byelo-Russia on the first ballot, but there were indications that they might switch to Greece on the second ballot.

Ambassador Austin asked the Delegation which Soviet member had approached the US Delegation. Ambassador Jessup answered that Malik had approached him officially, to seek US support for the Byelo-Russian. He noted that Lloyd of the UK had had a similar approach. The appeal to both had been made on the basis of returning to what Malik called the 1946 agreement. Mr. Hyde mentioned that France had been approached in a like manner. (See Daily Secret Summary of 23 Nov., Delga 312, page 3.)2 In this connection, Ambassador Austin said he had heard that the Russians were calling for a return to “principles” if peace was the real objective. Ambassador Jessup said that his conversation with Malik was undoubtedly the source of this idea, and that in addition, he had the impression from his talk with Lloyd regarding the Soviet approach, that the UK was far from “solid” in their support of Greece, as had been reported earlier.

Ambassador Gross also recalled his talk with Tsarapkin3 in a similar vein, but in connection with Committee chairmen rather than Council slates. Ambassador Austin remarked that of course at some time in the future, however distant that might be, the US would have to consult with the USSR on such matters, but he added that there was no use of dignifying such talks now with the hope of agreement, since that did not exist. He did think, however, that we ought to consider the possibility of disarming the Soviets of a weapon which would be their ability to say that the US did not even wish to talk with them. Ambassador Jessup reminded the Delegation that an answer to Malik’s official approach was called for. Mr. Sandifer said that it would be the Department’s view that readiness to talk should not mean that we would relax our position. Such a course would be a serious mistake. To return a satellite to the SC would go a long way to establishing a precedent for the future. The US was certainly not convinced of the validity of any claims for such a seat or for such a precedent. The proportional representation in the GA and the weight of their contributions to the organization were certainly not such as to entitle them to a seat in addition to the USSR’s.

Ambassador Austin felt that it was highly important that Mr. Sandifer had made those remarks. There were, in his opinion, two [Page 99] questions for the Delegation to consider. The first one concerned whether the Delegation would adhere to the position taken by the Department. The second had to do with whether we would attempt to disarm the Soviets so that they could not say that the US refused even to consult with them.

Senator Cooper asked what the status of the so-called “gentleman’s agreement” was. Mr. Sandifer replied that the Soviet contention was that in London in 1945 and 1946 during the work of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations, an agreement had been reached by which one Eastern European seat would be reserved on the Security Council in addition to that of the USSR. He [re]called, however, that when the Yugoslavs had broken with the Soviets and had campaigned for the seat they were now vacating on the Security Council, this same argument had been raised. At that time the record had been gone into very carefully. The US representative on the Preparatory Commission, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, now Governor of the State of Illinois, had also been consulted. Mr. Stevenson had been certain that no binding agreement had been made. The purpose of the arrangement was to determine the composition of the Council for its first term. No agreement in perpetuity could have been contemplated by the makers of that agreement.

In view of this explanation, Senator Cooper said that he liked very much the ideas expressed by Ambassador Austin. Ambassador Austin said that he wondered about having Ambassador Jessup go back to Malik, saying that the Delegation had consulted among itself and found no reason which would allow it to give support to the Soviet candidate. At this point Ambassador Dreier expressed concern lest the Latin Americans hear that the US was telling the Russians that we would not adhere to the patterns established for the Security Council. They would, without doubt, imagine that the US felt the same about their representation. Ambassador Austin asked whether there was supposed to be a pattern or agreement on composition which included the Latin Americans also, Mr. Sandifer said the understanding had been that there would be two seats on the Security Council for the Latin American countries. Although this was not a binding contractual agreement, it nevertheless represented a long-time understanding, based on geographical distribution considerations.

Ambassador Jessup suggested that the key to the situation lay in the fact that the extent of contribution to the organization and geographical distribution were the criteria which made it possible for the US to continue to support two Latin American seats on the Security Council. No factor of political domination was involved. It was the latter factor for which the USSR was arguing, and on that ‘basis they were clearly in the wrong. Mr. Maffitt cautioned that if the US were to adhere rigidly even to this formula, it would run [Page 100] the danger of inadequate representation of the countries in the Far East. New members in the future from that area would thus be excluded from representation on the SC. Mr. Ross agreed with both Ambassador Jessup and Mr. Maffitt. As for Ambassador Jessup’s point, the important factor was that the Russians could not claim another Council seat on the basis of political domination, or sympathy. As far as Mr. Maffitt’s point was concerned, Mr. Ross urged that a fair degree, at least, of flexibility ought to be reserved in view of the necessity to treat future members of the UN with due respect in seeing that their interests were represented on the Council.

Ambassador Austin apologized for having perhaps misled Ambassador Dreier by the way he had formulated his question. In reformulating it, he asked whether the Delegation agreed that Ambassador Jessup should go to Malik and state that the US position was to favor the candidacy of Greece and consequently against the opponents of Greece, giving our reasons therefor. On the general problem of talking with the USSR, Ambassador Gross said that it might be desirable to consult with the UK and France so that the three powers in responding to Malik’s inquiry would not express divergent viewpoints. He recalled in this connection that the UK, which now was “unsolidly” supporting the Greeks, had, in New York earlier, followed a different interpretation of the “gentlemen’s agreement”. It would be quite unfortunate for two or three western interpretations of this agreement to be made by the west to the USSR. For this reason, he urged advance consultations with the UK and France on exactly what we would say to the Russians.

Mrs. Roosevelt cautioned the delegation on a possible change of attitude by Prime Minister Churchill since the elections were over. She felt it very important that we find out where he now stood, since he was always capable of changing, and quite suddenly. Ambassador Jessup felt that Churchill would maintain a flexible position at least until he went to America to see President Truman at the end of the year. All this matter would be settled before then. Ambassador Jessup did refer, however, to a position that Trygve Lie might be taking. Lie apparently wanted to avoid exacerbating the Russians further for the duration of his extended term of office, and although not known to be campaigning for Byelo-Russia was nevertheless known to favor electing a satellite to the Yugoslav seat.

Mr. Mansfield commented that it was quite apparent from the discussion that there were two sides to this question. He also felt that an eventual coming together of the US and USSR would be necessary. However, it was not urgent that Ambassador Jessup see Malik and it would be best to await Vyshinsky’s4 speech on Saturday in response to [Page 101] the Secretary’s speech on disarmament.5 If Vyshinsky were adamante we could then tell him we were planning on supporting Greece. If something more than a ray of hope came from the speech, we could change our answer to the extent of telling him we were sorry they came out so late with their candidacy for Byelo-Russia, and that we had already made a commitment to Greece. In the interests of peace, he said, the US must not fail to explore any avenue leading in that direction. This, however, did not mean we would be any less firm. Ambassador Austin thanked Mr. Mansfield for his remarks and said that it seemed to be a very logical application of the original US position.

Mr. Cory warned that the US was pretty thoroughly committed to opposing a satellite. As Mr. Sandifer added, our statement to other delegations in New York and in Paris had all been to the effect that we would support that candidate which stood the best chance of defeating a satellite. Mr. Sandifer also referred to the seven-vote majority necessary for passing resolutions in the Security Council, and added that it was oftentimes difficult enough with the present composition (without a satellite) to obtain a majority. There were no prospects of any change in Soviet policy which indicated that the work of the Security Council would be any easier, or on which we could rely with any degree of certainty. There would be nothing to gain, and much to lose, by waiting before taking the next proposed step in favoring the Greek candidacy, while talking to the UK and France and then going to Malik. He did not think the Department would be able to agree to a change in its commitment against a satellite.

Mr. Mansfield said in explanation of his suggestion that the thing which had impressed him most so far at this session of the UN General Assembly was the Secretary’s speech in Committee One on disarmament, and the reaction it had evoked. It had been a presentation of cold facts on a vital topic, essential to ultimate peace. It had been a statement of what the US was prepared to do. We must now wait to hear what the important Russian reply would be. He said there would be no harm in waiting to see what they said before Ambassador Jessup gave Malik an appropriate answer.

Ambassador Austin suggested that since Delegation meetings were frequent, this matter could easily be handled within the Delegation, and it would not do any harm to follow the suggestion of Mr. Mansfield to hold off on talking to Malik for a few days. Since there was no objection to this course of action, and since the elections were not immediate, any decision on Security Council slates would be postponed. Mr. Mansfield added to this that the suggestion made by him did not change the Department position and that all that was needed [Page 102] before giving a reply to Malik would be to await the Vyshinsky reply to the Secretary. Mrs. Roosevelt related her problems in her Committee to the conversation with Malik and the possible character of the reply of Vyshinsky. From what she gathered, there would be little cause for hope in the Vyshinsky statement. With this, the meeting adjourned, after Mr. Taylor had cautioned that Secretariat action might conceivably put Council elections ahead a few days, necessitating an early Delegation meeting on this subject again.6

Charles D. Cook
  1. For information regarding the composition and organization of the United States Delegation, see pp. 210 and 3744.
  2. Not printed.
  3. S. K. Tsarapkin, Deputy Representative of the Soviet Union to the United Nations and Member of the Soviet Delegation to the General Assembly.
  4. A. Y. Vyshinsky, Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Soviet Delegation to the General Assembly.
  5. For documentation on this matter, see vol. i, pp. 443 ff.
  6. The following is recorded at the end of the minutes of the 20th meeting of the Delegation on November 27: “Mr. Taylor noted, with respect to the SO slate, that in view of the nature of Mr. Vyshinsky’s statement last Saturday [November 24], Ambassador Jessup would now inform Mr. Malik that the US intended fully to support Greece for this seat. Other members of the Delegation would take the same position with other Delegations.” (Doc. US/A/M (Chr)/207)

    For the Vyshinsky statement to the First Committee on November 24, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixth Session, First Committee, pp. 23 ff.