HickersonMurphyKey files, lot 58 D 33, “Ambassador Lodge

Briefing Paper Prepared in the Bureau of United Nations Affairs for Briefing Meetings for Ambassador Lodge1


Appointment of the Secretary-General2


1. The Secretary-General is appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council (Article 97 of the Charter). The veto applies to this question in the Security Council. In the General Assembly a decision is taken by a simple majority vote (although the Assembly could decide by a majority vote that a two-thirds majority is required). The rules of procedure of the Security Council and the General Assembly require “private” rather than “public” meetings for consideration of this question.

2. After informal consultations among the five permanent members of the Security Council and after three “private” meetings of the whole Council, the Security Council, on January 29, 1946, agreed unanimously to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of Trygve Lie as Secretary-General. The General Assembly, on February 1, accepted the recommendation of the Security Council, 46 delegations voting in favor, 3 against and 2 absent.* At an earlier meeting (January 24, 1946) the General Assembly approved a resolution setting forth the terms of appointment of the Secretary-General. This resolution, inter alia, provided that “the first Secretary-General shall be appointed for five years, the appointment being open at the end of that period for a further five-year term”.

3. Since Mr. Lie’s term expired on February 1, 1951, the question of the appointment of the Secretary-General was placed on the agenda of the fifth session of the General Assembly. The Security Council, in October 1950, held several “private” meetings on the matter. The [Page 435] United States strongly supported the re-appointment of Lie, stated that Soviet opposition to Lie represented an effort to punish Lie for his role in connection with the question of Korean aggression, and ultimately threatened to use the veto, if necessary, to prevent a recommendation from the Security Council on any other candidate. The Soviet Union strongly opposed Lie, initially put forward the name of the Polish Foreign Minister and subsequently the names of Padilla Nervo (Mexico), Malik (Lebanon) and Eau (India). China suggested Romulo (Philippines) and the Soviet representative indicated that Romulo would be acceptable to the USSR. The USSR (on October 12) vetoed a Yugoslav proposal to re-appoint Lie (9 members voted in favor, 1 against and 1 abstained). Prior to this vote the Council, at the same meeting, rejected the name of the Polish Foreign Minister (1 member voted in favor, 4 against and 6 abstained). On October 25 the Council voted on the nominations of Malik (Lebanon) and Romulo (Philippines) but both names failed to secure the necessary majority. In each case the vote was 4 to 0, with 7 abstentions. Prior to the votes on these two candidates the name of Padilla Nervo was withdrawn at his request by Chauvel (France), and Eau (India) withdrew his own name. The Council, in several communications, informed the General Assembly that it had been unable to agree on a recommendation.

Taking the position that the General Assembly which had determined the term of office of Secretary-General Lie could, in these circumstances, simply extend his term, the United States, with 14 other delegations, sponsored in the Assembly a resolution providing for the continuance of Lie in office for a period of three years (i.e., until February 1, 1954). This resolution was adopted on November 1, 1950 by a vote of 46 to 5, with 8 abstentions. The Soviet Bloc states announced that they considered this action illegal and that they would not take Lie into account and would not consider him as being Secretary-General of the United Nations.

4. On November 10 last Lie submitted his resignation to the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council (Annex A), and requested that an item entitled “Appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations” be included in the agenda of the General Assembly. This item was included in the Assembly’s agenda on November 13. In a letter, dated November 13, the President of the General Assembly informed the President of the Security Council of the Assembly’s action.

5. A number of names have been mentioned for the SYG post, including: Romulo (Philippines), Spaak (Belgium), Pearson (Canada), Spender (Australia), Boheman (Sweden), Stikker (Netherlands), Van Royen (Netherlands), Entezam (Iran), Malik (Lebanon), Muniz (Brazil), Wan (Thailand), Skrzeszewski (Poland), [Page 436] Padilla Nervo (Mexico), Santa Cruz (Chile), Bajpai (India). There is also some possibility that Lie may not be entirely serious about his resignation and may be open to persuasion to withdraw it.

Suggested Position

We should make every effort to obtain a favorable recommendation from the Security Council for a new Secretary-General. We would be prepared to accept any of the following individuals in the order named: Romulo, Spaak, Pearson, Spender, Boheman, Stikker, Van Royen, Malik, Entezam, Muniz. This list is not exhaustive. There may emerge from consultations other names which we could accept. The order of preference of the names listed is tentative except for Romulo as our first choice. We could not accept Skrzeszewski or any other Soviet Bloc national, Padilla Nervo, Santa Cruz nor Bajpai.
We should hold informal consultations at an early date with the other permanent members of the Security Council. We should consult first, and separately, with the UK, France and China with a view to reaching agreement on one or more of the individuals mentioned above. We should endeavor to get the UK, France and China to agree that all of us must handle these consultations in such a manner that no one of us will be tagged with the responsibility for blocking a particular candidate. We should then approach the Soviet delegation with a view to ascertaining whether the USSR could agree to the four-power candidate or candidates.
If the informal consultations among the permanent Members indicate that no agreement is possible with the USSR, we should secure support among the non-permanent Members of the Council for the four-power candidate or candidates.
We should then (possibly with the UK, France and China) request that the Security Council be called to consider the question of the Secretary-General.
If the Council is unable to make a recommendation on an acceptable candidate, we should seek action by the General Assembly under which an “acting” Secretary-General (an individual who could command the broadest support) would be appointed from the list set forth in paragraph 1 for a specified term (perhaps 3–5 years), or until the Security Council is able to reach agreement.
  1. The briefing meetings were scheduled for Jan. 22, 1953 at the Department of State, by which time Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., would have been nominated by President Eisenhower as U.S. Representative at the United Nations.
  2. An Annex attached to this paper contained the text of Lie’s message to the General Assembly on Nov. 10, 1952 which is printed on p. 423. (The Annex also included a short personal message to General Assembly President Pearson which is not printed.)
  3. On the suggestion of the President the Assembly waived the provision of the rule requiring a “private” meeting and took its action at a “public” meeting. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Lebanon is President of the Council in February, Pakistan in March, and the USSR in April. [Footnote in the source text.]