HickersonMurphyKey files, lot 58 D 33, “Secretary Generalship of UN

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy United States Representative on the Security Council (Ross)

  • Subject:
  • Election of Secretary General
Participants: Sir Gladwyn Jebb, United Kingdom }
Ambassador Henri Hoppenot, France
Separately with Amb. Carlos Romulo, Philippines
Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, United States
Mr. John C. Ross, United States

At their requests Sir Gladwyn Jebb and Ambassador Hoppenot called on Ambassador Lodge at 3:30 this afternoon on the above subject. They indicated an interest in our “real” position on Romulo. The General Assembly was alive with rumors running from a story that we had nominated Romulo only to kill him off to the other extreme that we would veto Pearson. Ambassador Lodge indicated that while we definitely were for Romulo we were not against Pearson.

Hoppenot made clear his government’s objection to Romulo because of his attitude on the colonial question in regard to which Hoppenot said the Philippine Delegation had always played a leading role to the detriment of the interests of France. Hoppenot was in a dilemma because if there were a real chance of Romulo being elected the question of a French veto would arise.

Both Jebb and Hoppenot went out of their way to indicate in quite strong terms that we had nothing to fear from Pearson on the personnel question. They both thought we could rely on Pearson to carry forward the work initiated under Trygve Lie. Hoppenot thought the appointment of Pearson, if elected, might be scheduled to become effective in June. This would give Pearson an opportunity to wind up his affairs in Canada and it would also provide an opportunity for Lie to continue moving the personnel question forward.

Jebb inquired whether we would abstain or vote against the Pole. Ambassador Lodge indicated we had been thinking of voting against [Page 443] him since we did not want to run the slightest risk that a Communist would be elected as Secretary General. If this happened it would be the end of the United Nations so far as the United States was concerned. Hoppenot hoped that it would not be necessary for us to vote against the Pole. He did not think anyone would vote for him except the Soviet Representative. He wondered if it would not be better for the other eleven Members of the Council merely to abstain. Ambassador Lodge did not commit himself on this point.

In view of the unpredictability of Soviet voting and other factors in the situation, it was generally agreed that anything might happen at Friday’s meeting of the Council. It was quite possible that other candidates would emerge including, for example, Madam Pandit, Charles Malik, Padilla Nervo. If we did not consider any of these candidates or similar candidates desirable choices for the job it would be embarrassing for all of our governments to vote against them or even to abstain since an abstention was nearly equivalent to a negative vote. This discussion opened the question of whether ballotting should be secret. Jebb thought quite strongly it should be. Hoppenot agreed but with a slight reservation that this might give Tsiang an opportunity to veto Pearson but not openly so. Ambassador Lodge gave his tacit agreement and it was understood that Jebb would approach Borberg with a view to moving a secret ballot.

In the course of the discussion of possible dark horse candidates Ambassador Lodge inquired if there were not an acceptable Western European candidate. Jebb mentioned the name of Stikker, former Dutch Foreign Minister who he said would like the job and who would be good. He doubted, however, that Stikker could get elected. Ambassador Lodge mentioned the name of Herman van Roijen, Dutch Ambassador in Washington. This discussion was, however, brief and inconclusive.

Later on in the afternoon General Romulo called on Ambassador Lodge to thank him for nominating Romulo at the Security Council meeting on March 11.

J. C. Ross