USUN files, “Dependent Areas (DA), 1952–1957”

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Cargo) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)


The Problem

The problem is to determine the nature of the reply which should be given to the Netherlands Embassy with regard to the memorandum (copy attached)1 on non-self-governing territory questions handed to you by Mr. de Beus of the Netherlands Embassy on June 20, 1952.


On June 20, Dr. de Beus handed to you the attached memorandum. He explained that his Government had had for some time the feeling that the situation in the UN with regard to non-self-governing territories was “getting out of hand” and that the Government of the Netherlands thought it might be desirable for the administering powers to take a concerted stand. Dr. de Beus described the memorandum as a tentative, unofficial working paper and expressed the hope that we would study it and give him unofficial comments. You told Dr. de Beus that his memorandum would receive careful study and that he would hear from us.

The memorandum left by Dr. de Beus, described as “Suggestions of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, relates entirely to non-self-governing [Page 1206] territory questions arising in the UN. The memorandum indicates positions which the Netherlands Government believes should be taken on a number of substantive questions, including such matters as (1) the future of the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, (2) the role of the Assembly in relation to information transmitted under Article 73(e) of the Charter, (3) the question of implementation of Assembly recommendations relating to non-self-governing territories, (4) the issue of the discussion of political conditions in non-self-governing territories, (5) the question of visiting missions to non-self-governing territories, and (6) the issue of the cessation of the transmission of information on a non-self-governing territory.

In addition to these substantive points, the memorandum urges the primary importance of “unanimous action” by the administering powers in the General Assembly in connection with issues in the colonial field. It proposes also that the administering powers should consider the “sanctions” which they would use to defend their viewpoint, and suggests certain contingencies in which, in the view of the Netherlands Government, the administering powers should all refuse participation in Committee Four or suspend the transmission of information under Article 73(e). The memorandum concludes with the suggestion that the points contained in it be discussed at a meeting of the representatives of the administering powers which, it is further suggested, might take place during the 1952 session of the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories (now scheduled to open on September 11). The Netherlands wishes to be informed whether a discussion of such a nature would be considered useful and whether the points set out in the memorandum might constitute a useful starting point.


It is recommended that Dr. de Beus be invited to the Department and that, in the conversation with him, you make the points set forth in the attached brief.


This memorandum has been cleared with WE (Mr. Spalding) and EUR (Mr. Sale). The Netherlands memorandum was circulated to the Colonial Problems Committee and was discussed by that group. The suggested reply to the Netherlands is in accord with the consensus reached in the Committee.2

[Page 1207]


Brief for use in connection with the memorandum on non-self-governing territory questions in the United Nations handed to Mr. Hickerson by Dr. J. G. de Beus of the Netherlands Embassy on June 20, 1952

1. The Department is grateful to the Netherlands Embassy for providing us an opportunity to examine the suggestions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning policies which might be followed in the Committee on Information From Non-Self-Governing Territories and the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly.

We fully recognize the important character of the substantive points raised by the Netherlands Government and will consider them carefully in the course of our preparations for the forthcoming meetings of UN bodies.

When we have been able to prepare our positions on these various questions, we will welcome further opportunities to explain our views and to discuss these various questions in detail with representatives of the Netherlands Government.

The Department will no doubt find itself in full or partial agreement with a number of points raised in the Netherlands Embassy memorandum.

2. However, in accordance with the request of Dr. de Beus, we will be glad to make certain informal comments at this time, particularly concerning some of the procedures suggested in the memorandum.

3. We would not favor at this time a formal meeting of all administering powers to consider the various questions raised, for the principal reason that we wish to avoid, insofar as possible, any charge that the administering members are taking a broad, concerted stand against the non-administering members in the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories and the General Assembly.

On the other hand, we will welcome, as in the past, exchanges of views as fully and as frequently as may be desired with Netherlands representatives and representatives of other administering and non-administering states. We would hope to continue full exchanges of views, so far as may be feasible, among administering members as well as with non-administering states at the time of the meeting of the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories and during the General Assembly.

4. We have taken careful note of the suggestion in the memorandum that the administering powers should consider the “sanctions” which they would use to defend their viewpoint and, in particular, the proposal that, in certain contingencies, the administering powers should [Page 1208] jointly refuse participation in Committee 4 or suspend the transmission of information with regard to their territories.

It can be said at this time that the Department would strongly advise against any action by the eight administering powers which would suggest the use of “sanctions” on our part in an effort to combat extreme action by the General Assembly. The United States, for its own part, would not be able to agree to employ such “sanctions”. Such a course of action, we believe, would not only greatly damage the United States position in the General Assembly but would also cause serious damage to the position of the Netherlands Government, which up to now has not experienced in the Fourth Committee the degree of criticism directed at some of the administering powers, including the United States.

Action aimed at achieving a United stand and a threat by the administering powers of non-participation in specified contingencies would, in our opinion, only serve to antagonize non-administering members and would result in strong accusations that we were following the type of tactics employed by the Soviet Union and its satellites.

5. The Department believes that the Netherlands Government has been extremely forthright to date in discussing the question of cessation of information from the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam and that on this issue it should not assume a defensive position on legalistic and jurisdictional lines.

As in the past the Department considers that every effort should be made in the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories and the Fourth Committee, as well as the Ad Hoc Factors Committee, to reply to questioning as patiently and fully as possible. This, we believe, is the best way to meet anticipated criticism.

6. The Department fully appreciates the special concern of the Netherlands Government this year in relation to matters arising in the Fourth Committee and wishes to cooperate with it to the fullest possible extent in keeping matters in this field from “getting out of hand”.

  1. See the Netherlands memorandum of June 20, 1952, p. 1198.
  2. Regarding the composition and work of this committee, the Working Group on Colonial Problems, see pp. 1075 ff.