The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom
466. Although replies to circular 51 far from complete indications are that relatively few countries favor discussion shelf and fisheries 9th GA. As to Commonwealth Canada opposes due incompleteness internal views now being resolved through Governmental territorial waters and fisheries study. Australia opposes ground Arafura case makes shelf problem sub judice. South Africa generally favors but cosponsorship would depend general Commonwealth feeling. Remainder Commonwealth unknown. As to Western Europe only Netherlands strongly favors. France Belgium Norway Sweden generally oppose.
Although possible that remainder replies will change picture, present estimate insufficient support get double barreled item on agenda. In US view there is greater reluctance discuss fisheries than shelf. We think might be merit separating two and proposing discussion and adoption shelf articles as drafted by ILC at 9th GA. We contemplate postponement UN consideration fisheries until extensive private discussions held and some agreement reached among important maritime states.
Embassy requested discuss immediately with Fitzmaurice or other appropriate official 1) UK reaction to replies outlined first paragraph and 2) possible alternative of shelf discussion alone; we would contemplate immediately going to governments again with two new questions: would they support discussion shelf alone at 9th GA and would they vote favor ILC articles on shelf substantially as drafted. Does UK think Commonwealth and Western European countries could be persuaded to support this alternative plan? If so we suggest joint approach to these and possibly other governments.
- Dated July 2, 1954, not printed.↩