Memorandum of Conversation, by Paul W. Jones of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs

  • Subject:
  • Admission of New Members to United Nations
  • Participants:
  • Miss Barbara Salt, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • Mr. WainhouseUNP
  • Mr. SaleEUR
  • Mr. TaylorUNP
  • Mr. JonesUNP

Miss Salt called upon instructions from the Foreign Office to discuss the question of the admission of new members to the United Nations. She said that the Foreign Office had been officially approached by the Italians in March concerning implementation of the Tripartite Declaration of September, 1951 regarding Italy’s admission. She understood that Italian representatives had been instructed to make similar approaches in Washington and Paris. She explained that the Foreign Office was presently giving serious consideration to the membership question and wanted to reply to the Italian inquiry before too long. It therefore wished to inform the United States and France of its preliminary thinking and to ask for any views they might have on the membership issue.

[Page 811]

The Foreign Office, she said, had mentioned various alternative courses of action. First, the Security Council might recommend the admission of applicants en bloc, leaving it to the General Assembly subsequently to vote down certain of the Soviet applicants. The difficulty with this course, Miss Salt stated, was that a Security Council recommendation to admit applicants simultaneously was contrary to the 1948 opinion of the International Court of Justice.

Second, Miss Salt said, the Assembly might request a Court opinion regarding the validity of a Soviet veto of Italy’s application, or the Assembly might phrase a question to the Court in general terms so as to apply to the Soviet vetoes of all the non-Soviet applicants. Miss Salt explained, however, that a question which concerned only the Italian case was difficult for the United Kingdom in view of its interest in the admission of Ceylon and other applicants. On the other hand, a Court question phrased in general terms had the disadvantage that it might weaken the right of veto.

In addition to these alternatives, Miss Salt mentioned another course, involving separate General Assembly action to admit applicants in the absence of a Security Council recommendation. She noted that such action would, however, be clearly contrary to the Court’s 1950 opinion and seemed unacceptable to the United Kingdom.

Miss Salt explained that the Foreign Office had not yet formulated its position on the membership question but that it presently seemed to be thinking about a general question to the Court which would apply to the Soviet veto not only of Italy’s application but of others as well.

Mr. Wainhouse stated that the Department was very glad to receive the preliminary views of the Foreign Office and that we have likewise been giving very serious attention to the membership question. The working levels were presently studying the whole problem and it was hoped that in due course a high-level decision would be made on the basis of which we could begin consultations with the United Kingdom, France, Canada and others in New York. He mentioned that consideration was being given to the possibility of some arrangement for the admission not only of all present applicants but also of future applicants like Japan and Spain. However, there were serious problems involved and a number of differences of opinion as to details. He therefore could not say what the end result would be.

With respect to the alternatives mentioned by Miss Salt, Mr. Wainhouse expressed the opinion that the Soviet Union would probably not agree to a recommendation for the admission of all applicants by the Security Council unless it had assurance that the Soviet applicants would be admitted by the Assembly. He agreed that General Assembly action in the absence of a Security Council recommendation would be clearly illegal, and saw less difficulty from a legal standpoint [Page 812] in a Security Council recommendation to admit all applicants provided prior agreement was attained.

Mr. Wainhouse assured Miss Salt that we would want to consult closely with the United Kingdom when our thinking had crystallized further. It was agreed that it would be preferable to wait until the United States, United Kingdom and France had further discussions before consulting with the Italians and that our consultations with Italy should be closely coordinated.

Miss Salt thanked Mr. Wainhouse for our views and said that she would give only an interim reply to the Foreign Office.