711C.02/11–1953: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Belgium 1


498. Re Puerto Rican case in GA. Reference Department’s circular airgram March 31, 1953 re attainment self-government by Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Vote in GA Plenary on resolution on Puerto Rico expected November 27. Department and Puerto Rican Government desirous secure adoption satisfactory resolution and thus completion consideration Puerto Rican question this GA. Consider resolution adopted by GA’s Fourth Committee satisfactory except for preambular paragraph relating competence GA decide whether a territory has attained a full measure of self-government. We believe however that competence paragraph introduces extraneous issue and that it will be deleted in Plenary vote where two-thirds majority required.

Application two-thirds rule raises possibility that no resolution on Puerto Rico will secure necessary vote, with resulting possibility further UN discussion this matter next year. Department very anxious avoid this situation and therefore hopes when competence paragraph is deleted Belgium will be able vote for resolution. US understands Belgian view that no resolution this question necessary but concerned over political repercussions in Puerto Rico, if no resolution adopted. Moreover failure adopt favorable resolution might give encouragement independence movements in non-self-governing territories generally and reinforce view many UN Members that full self-government can be achieved only through independence. Believe Belgium might overcome its difficulties by explanation of vote. For your information Belgium voted against resolution containing competence paragraph in Fourth Committee.

In your discretion promptly convey above views Foreign Office.2

  1. Drafted by Curtis C. Strong of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs; cleared with the Bureau of European Affairs and the Bureau of UN Affairs; signed by the Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Gerig).

    A telegram with essentially the same message but structured somewhat differently was sent also to Athens (telegram 1657, Nov. 19, 1953, 6:44 p.m., file 711C.02/11–1953).

    For information regarding the special Belgian position, both general and specific, see pp. 1168 ff.

  2. The Ambassador in Belgium (Alger) decided to avail himself of the “discretion kindly granted” and not contact the Belgian Foreign Office, on the belief that the Belgian Representative in New York (Ryckmans) was “the dominant expert on these questions”. The Embassy recommended to the Department that the Department of State’s views on the matter be discussed directly with Ryckmans in New York. (Brussels telegram 335, Nov. 2, 1953, 6 p.m., file 711C.02/11–2053) The Department responded to Brussels on Nov. 23 that “… you may wish to reconsider suggestion Deptel 498 since idea presented stemmed from US Delegation’s several conversations with Ryckmans who said he had instructions to abstain, but if in our shoes he would approach Brussels directly.” (Department of State telegram 513, to Brussels, Nov. 23, 1953, 6: 47 p.m., file 711C.02/11–2053).