320/11–3051: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations ( Austin ) to the Secretary of State


Delga 448. Re ICJ elections.1 LA caucus last night decided unanimously to press vigorously for retention four seats on ICJ. Comite appointed to work on tactics and solicit support other dels. Gonzalez, [Page 104] chairman caucus, told US Del that caucus wished to inform us that we shld not now count on Latin American support Greece’s candidacy for SC. Gonzalez and others indicated that caucus tended towards position that it wld accept US stand on principle with reference US vote for judges but in return LA’s wld take stand on principle of particular importance to them, namely retention London understanding on geographic distribution of seats and right of each region to select their own candidates. This wld lead them to vote for Byelorussia. Final decision on Latin American votes for Greece or Byelorussia has not been reached however.

  1. Elections to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well as to the Security Council were pending at this time. The specific problem posed for the U.S. Delegation was how to harmonize the U.S. position as between the two elections, in view of a decision made in the Department of State in October to support an Asian instead of a Latin American for one of five regular vacancies then occurring on the Court. Considerable documentation exists in file 320 on the Question of the ICJ elections in 1951. The basic Department of State instruction to the U.S. Delegation is in telegram Gadel 100 to Paris, November 7 (320/11–751); the principal U.S. Delegation working paper on the matter, Doc. US/A/3389, November 25, 1951, in turn was based on Gadel 100.

    The basis of the U.S. position was that three general principles should apply to the election of judges: (a) the Big Five should be represented; (b) incumbents who had served well and wished to be reelected should generally be supported; and (c) depending upon (b), posts occupied by nationals of small states should be rotated. In effect, in terms of the specific ICJ situation at this time, U.S. policymakers formulated a fourth principle, namely that geographic representation on the Court should be more balanced. This was reflected in the October decision in the Department of State to support Sir Senegal Rau of India for a vacancy being created by the retirement of a Latin American incumbent, that is, to increase the representation of Asia on the ICJ.

    The U.S. Delegation to the General Assembly considered the ICJ question at meetings on November 13, November 28, December 3, and December 6. The November 28 meeting was devoted entirely to this problem (Doc. US/A/M(Chr)/280, IO Files).