Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Ward P. Alien, Member, United States Party on Colonial Policy Talks With the French1


Subject: Moroccan Case in the GA

Participants: M. Maurice Schumann, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs;
M. Pignon, French Delegate to Trusteeship Council;
M. Broustra, Director of Conference Section (UN);
M. Naudy, Conference Section (UN);
M. Wolfrom, Assistant Director, Conference Section (UN);
Mr. William Sanders, Department of State;
Mr. Benjamin Gerig, Department of State;
Mr. John Utter, U.S. Embassy, Paris;
Mr. Ward P. Allen, Department of State.

M. Schumann took the occasion of an informal conversation with the above group to raise the question and reiterated the French position as follows:

1. As soon as the question of admitting the item to the agenda arises in the General Committee, the French will make a major stand on the [Page 141] question of jurisdiction under Article 2, paragraph 7, claiming that the Assembly is completely incompetent to deal with the matter. They will, however (and M. Schumann gave us to understand this would be in the General Committee) take advantage of the opportunity to explain in some detail the French record in Morocco. However, they will force the question to a vote on the jurisdictional issue.

2. M. Schumann seemed quite optimistic that the matter can be kept off the agenda, provided the US, UK and French present “a solid front”. He stated that several of the Arab States themselves (specifically Iraq and Saudi-Arabia) had previously informed the French that they were opposed to submitting the item, and were highly unenthusiastic about any GA consideration, realizing that there is really no constructive action the GA could take. They did, however, state that if the matter did arise, they would, of course, have to go along. As to the Latin Americans, M. Schumann referred to Brazil’s recent refusal of Egypt’s request to mediate in the matter as indicative of Latin indifference and he therefore felt confident that there would be general support among the Latin American Delegations for opposing admission of the item.

We sought to temper somewhat this optimism on the question of admission to the agenda, pointing out the traditional attitude of the Latin Americans both towards freedom of discussion in the GA and towards colonial problems generally, as well as the fact that the reaction of Brazil is not always an accurate barometer of that of the other 19. Making clear we were not prepared to comment on the U.S. position, we nevertheless gave no ground for belief that the U.S. would be able to join the French in opposing admission of the item.

3. If, nevertheless, the item should be admitted, M. Schumann initially stated that the French would probably not participate in any discussion in Committee I. In response to a direct question on this point, however, he replied that at that time, the French Government (which had not yet reached a decision) would “have to consider the question of their participation in the discussion”.

There was general agreement among those present that, if admitted, it would be desirable to place the item as low on the Committee agenda as possible.

4. In the course of the discussion it was noted that Egypt in its complaint placed great emphasis on the violation of Human Rights in Morocco. On this aspect the French freely admitted the right of Committee IV to consider the matter, in view of the fact that under Chapter 11 of the Charter France has accepted the responsibility for promoting human rights in Morocco as a non-self-governing-territory and reports upon this problem regularly to the UN. M. Schumann nevertheless maintained that Committee I has no right to discuss even this aspect of the Moroccan question since it would then be placed in [Page 142] a political context. The U.S. representatives mentioned that, legal position aside, from a practical point of view, Committee I or the Ad Hoc Committee2 might be a more favorable forum than Committee IV for this type of discussion since the Heads of Delegations who sit in Committee I are apt to be more responsive to over-all political factors and less likely to take positions without instructions from or consultations with their governments. It was generally agreed that the raising of the specific case of violation of human rights in Morocco in Committee IV might introduce a new precent [precedent] which might create future difficulties.

5. Throughout the discussion the French representative sought to place the problem of Morocco in the context of its importance as part of the problem of defense of the NATO area. He pointed out the vulnerability of U.S. to attack in the course of any discussion because of the existence of U.S. bases there, and thus emphasized the desirability of a completely united front on this whole question between the U.S. and France.

  1. This and the Allen memorandum of conversation, October 17, infra, were carried back to Washington on October 18 by the head of the U.S. party, William Sanders.
  2. The General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Political and Security Affairs.