ODA files, lot 62 D 225, “Trust Territory of Pacific Islands”

Memoranda of Two Conversations, by Robert R. Robbins of the United States Delegation to the Trusteeship Council

official use only
  • Subject:
  • Marshall Islanders’ Petition
  • Participants:
  • (1) Mr. B. O. B. Gidden, Counsellor, Colonial Affairs, UK Mission to the UN
  • Mr. Robert R. Robbins, USUN/UND
  • (2) Sir Alan C. Burns, UK Representative in the Trusteeship Council
  • Mr. Mason Sears, US Representative in the Trusteeship Council

(1) Mr. Gidden called at USUN today to talk over at his request the question of the handling of the Marshall Islanders’ petition. He said that his delegation wanted to be as helpful as possible to us both in the Petitions Committee, where the petition would first be considered, and in the Trusteeship Council. It was important to know in so far as possible what our approach would be in order that the United Kingdom would be in a position to know what we would or would not accept by way of a report from the Committee.

What Mr. Gidden wanted to know specifically was whether or not we would accept a report recommending that the United States give assurance that the atomic and hydrogen experiments would cease—he assumed that we would not.

I told Mr. Gidden that we would not give such assurances which were not insisted on even by the petitioners. However, as he knew from our statements to date we were prepared to deal with the matter in a completely frank manner and to satisfy the petitioners on all other points raised.

After discussing the United States case in general terms with Mr. Gidden, he said that there were a number of good points which he felt that it would be easier for them to make rather than us. For example, we had heard no outcry about the Americans who had been injured by the thermonuclear fall-out. He added, however, that there was Strong public opinion in Britain on the matter, and they would be obliged to act cautiously.

He felt that it was important for some friendly member of the Petitions Committee to take the initiative and, as he saw it, it would have to be the UK, France or Belgium. He would be glad to take the initiative, if we wish it. He felt that India and Syria might line up with the Soviet Union against us, and that it was possible that we would come out of the Committee with no report at all on two diametrically opposed recommendations.

I told Mr. Gidden that we wouldn’t have our cause of action clearly outlined until after the High Commissioner, Mr. Midkiff arrived. However, we would be pleased and grateful if the United Kingdom would take the lead in the Petitions Committee, and would keep him [Page 1505] informed of developments. He said that his delegation would be guided by instruction from London which could best be worked out by knowing what we wanted. He added that in this period of misapprehension on the part of the governments in a number of other fields, this was a matter on which we ought to be able to stand together.

I mentioned to Mr. Gidden that we hoped to have Mr. Dwight Heine, one of the signers of the petition as a member of our delegation. He said that he thought this was a good idea. He expressed the opinion that if Mr. Heine was to serve on our delegation, he should be designated as Assistant to the Special Representative or Assistant Special Representative and to speak and answer questions from the Council table. To turn him loose to be questioned as a petitioner would not only involve procedural difficulties, but might have unfortunate results.

(2) After talking with Sir Alan Burns this afternoon on the handling of the United States draft resolution on British Togoland and the Gold Coast we proceeded to discuss the Marshall Islanders’ petition.

Sir Alan assured me of the full cooperation of the UK Delegation.

He assumed that we would probably get a 3–3 vote in the Petitions Committee, and that in the Council we might expect to get one or more abstentions from China, Haiti and El Salvador.

I told Sir Alan that as soon as we were in a position to do so, we would sit down and go over the whole matter with him.