HickersonMurphyKey files, lot 58 D 33, “US–UK talks—September 1952”

United States Informal Minutes of Meeting Between the United States and United Kingdom Groups (Third Session), Washington, September 23, 1952, 3:20 p.m.



  • united kingdom
  • Sir Gladwyn Jebb
  • Mr. D. Laskey
  • Mr. F. S. Tomlinson
  • Mr. R. H. Fowler
  • Mr. J. K. Thompson
  • Miss B. Salt
  • Mr. Butler
  • united states
  • Mr. J. D. Hickerson
  • Mr. E. H. Gross
  • Mr. U. A. Johnson
  • Mr. H. F. Bancroft
  • Mr. D. W. Wainhouse
  • Mr. W. Kotschnig
  • Mr. W. Barbour
  • Mr. K. Young
  • Mr. J. Green
  • Mr. R. H. Davis
  • Mr. G. M. Ingram
  • Mr. J. N. Hyde
  • Mr. W. P. Allen
  • Mr. L. Henkin
  • Mr. H. Meyers
  • Mr. L. Weiler

[Here follows discussion of continuing items on Part I of the agenda which are not included here because of their specific character: economic and social questions, the UN scale of national assessments, [Page 27] land reform, the specialized agencies, self-determination, forced labor, and Korea.]

part i—d. the united nations and the cold war

Item 1. Attitude and Probable Policy of the USSR Toward the UN.

Mr. Barbour thought that the Soviet objectives in the UN were to use it as a propaganda forum, to oppose measures which would help develop the UN into a more effective collective security instrument, to gain an external appearance of respectability through membership, and to use the UN as a listening post. The US did not anticipate that the Soviets would withdraw from the UN in the near future, both because of the above advantages and because withdrawal would (a) under-cut Soviet claims to be working for peace, (b) might be interpreted as advance warning of war, (c) it might be difficult to lead the neutrals with them out of the UN now, (d) there did not appear to be satisfactory alternative organs to take the place of the UN. The US thought the Soviets might withdraw either if the UN should become discredited as impotent, or if it appeared to represent only a single bloc of states, or if the UN contrariwise became an extremely effective collective security instrument in which the USSR could not delay or hamper action.

Sir Gladwyn agreed with this general statement of Soviet objectives, adding that the Soviets might possibly wish to use the UN for a deal on some issues if to their advantage. He also recalled that the USSR had been expelled from the League of Nations, and that this might militate against their withdrawing from the UN.

It was generally agreed by both the UK and US conferees that if the General Assembly should decide to vote into membership the Western-backed applicants and vote down Soviet applicants, the USSR might possibly think about withdrawing. In this connection, Sir Gladwyn said that the UK remains opposed to the seating of the Chinese Communists so long as they were aggressors.

Item 2. General Posture Regarding Soviet Participation in the UN.

a. Desirability of continuing Soviet membership.

Mr. Gross said that the US thought it was definitely desirable to maintain Soviet membership, since withdrawal would not give the UN or the Free World any significant advantage but on the contrary would cause many neutral countries to withdraw and leave the UN merely one of two hostile camps with no claim to universal authority. We believed the USSR was not likely to be driven out of the UN by mere prestige considerations and would probably remain as long as its long-range purposes were served, including maintaining [Page 28] a check in the UN against use of the organization as a hostile coalition.

Sir Gladwyn agreed.

b. election of soviet bloc members to UN posts.

Mr. Gross explained the UN believed we should not agree at this time to return to the Soviet bloc the old Eastern European seat in the Security Council. In ECOSOC the Soviets share of three out of eighteen seats was disproportionate and, while the US was not proposing now as a general principle that the Eastern European areas should be reduced from three to two seats, we believed that this could be justified. We understood that the UK agreed with us that Yugoslavia should be elected to ECOSOC this year. On the General Committee post, the US might agree to a Soviet bloc member as chairman of Committee 2 and also to a Soviet Vice President.

Sir Gladwyn agreed with this position.

c. Attitude toward Soviet proposal in the UN.

Mr. Gross said that the US did not believe that rigid tactics could be followed with regard to all Soviet proposals; that we did not believe it necessary to reject every proposal out of hand but they usually needed either to be voted down or amended so that we could really agree with them or else had to be met by Western counter-proposals, According to the circumstances.

Sir Gladwyn agreed with this.

Mr. Laskey remarked that we may have given the impression to the Arab-Asians that the Western Powers automatically opposed the Soviet proposals, and that this should be avoided.

Item 3. Use of the UN as a Propaganda Forum by the USSR.

Mr. Gross suggested that it was better to rebut Soviet arguments right away when they were raised, rather than follow our usual custom of waiting until more carefully developed arguments had been prepared. This was advisable because of the propaganda benefits which the Soviet arguments derived unless countered simultaneously by Western rebuttal. Such immediate rebuttal would cut down the propaganda charges to size, if properly reported in various information media. It would be helpful if states other than the US would make such rebuttal.

Sir Gladwyn agreed with these views, and proceeded to give the UK approach toward dealing with the Soviet “hate campaign”. The UK was opposed to placing a specific item on the Assembly agenda concerning this matter, preferring to deal with it: (a) in speeches made after awaiting the expected Soviet vituperative addresses, so that we could demonstrate specifically by references to their statements how dangerous Soviet attitudes were to the maintenance of international peace and security; (b) by then introducing a resolution phrased in [Page 29] broad terms deploring the hate campaign, the specific terms of the resolution depending on the development of the situation in the Assembly. The UK was prepared to take the lead in dealing with the hate campaign question.

Mr. Gross thought we should have a resolution at least as strong as the one which the US had introduced in the Security Council during the discussions on germ warfare and the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

The meeting rose at 6:05 p.m.