Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs ( Hickerson ) to the Secretary of State

  • Subject:
  • Cessation of Submission of Information on Puerto Rico under Article 73(e) of the United Nations Charter

It is proposed that the United States Government should cease to submit information to the United Nations in accordance with Article 73(e) of the Charter on Puerto Rico in view of its achievement of a full measure of self-government as a result of the establishment on July 25, 1952, of the new Constitution creating the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Department and interdepartmental clearance has been obtained for the proposed course of action set forth in the recommendations of the attached position paper (Tab A).1 The proposed action is strongly urged by the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and supported by the Department of the Interior (Tab B).2


This course of action, based upon the conclusion that it is no longer necessary or appropriate for the United States to continue to submit information on Puerto Rico, suggests that: (a) Information for the administrative year ending June 30, 1952, should be transmitted in the usual manner early in 1953; (b) The Secretary General be advised not later than January 25, 1953 (in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 222(III) which calls for the communication of such information within a maximum of six months) that the United States has decided to cease transmission of information on Puerto Rico; (c) The full concurrence and collaboration of the Government of Puerto Rico should be obtained in taking this action; and (d) Consultation should also be carried out as practicable with Congressional leaders and members of the Congressional Committees concerned. Mr. Brown (H) has been asked to undertake conversations with certain Congressional leaders to inform them of the proposed action.

Because of the merits of the Puerto Rican case and because of the strong views held by the Puerto Ricans that due recognition should be accorded their new constitutional status and that they will no longer accept arrangements which imply dependent status, there is believed to be no alternative course of action. Nonetheless, it should be noted, that in taking this action, difficulties may arise in the United Nations when this matter is considered in the General Assembly and its Committees. These difficulties, the extent of which cannot be assessed [Page 1441] in advance, may include any of the following: (a) Claims that the United States alone is not competent to decide whether Puerto Rico has achieved a full measure of self-government; (b) Attempts to examine in detail and to judge Federal and territorial legislation; (c) Assessment of the Puerto Rican case in terms of the factors developed by the General Assembly to determine when a territory is no longer non-self-governing;3 (d) Proposal to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice; and (e) The usual anti-colonial propaganda by Iron Curtain countries. It is proposed to meet these eventualities by advance diplomatic preparations, a well-documented oral presentation with an able Puerto Rican serving on the United States Delegation and, in the final analysis, by a firm reiteration of United States policy that this Government alone is competent to decide when territories under its administration have achieved a full measure of self-government.


It is recommended that you approve the proposal to inform the Secretary General of the United Nations that the United States Government has decided to cease transmission of information on Puerto Rico and, therefore, that you sign the attached instruction to the United States Representative to the United Nations (Tab C).4


Department clearance was obtained in the Colonial Policy Working Group by representatives of UNA; UND; UNP; UNA/P; ARA;. EUR; FE; NEA; TCA; L; L/UNA; H; and E: ED.

The interdepartmental Committee on Non-Self-Governing Territories including the Department of the Interior, also cleared the proposed action.

The Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has strongly urged the proposed action.

  1. Only the problem and recommendations sections of this position paper are printed; see p. 1436.
  2. Not found as such in the Department of State files. The information described here is in the Oct. 9, 1952 letter of the Acting Secretary of the Interior; see p. 1429.
  3. For documentation regarding the “factors question”, see pp. 1168 ff.
  4. Not printed (Department of State instruction 161 to the Mission at the United Nations, Jan. 19, 1953, file 350/1–1953).