362/1–1554: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Offices in the American Republics



  • Background Information on Items on the Agenda for the Tenth Inter-American Conference.

CA–3670. In transmitting a copy of the agenda for the Tenth Inter-American Conference to the Embassy (CA–2692, dated November 17, 1953),1 the Department indicated that it proposed to provide the Embassy with the U.S. position on the various items of the agenda as they were developed. There follows a brief résumé of the positions on the items included in Chapter I. Juridical-Political Matters of the Agenda. Similar résumés covering the remaining four chapters will be transmitted within a few days. The Embassy is authorized to use this material in its discretion in discussing Tenth Conference matters with government officials. The portions in parentheses are intended for the information of the Embassy only. The Department may in the near future wish to instruct consultation with other governments on specific projects or issues arising under various topics, in which case the Embassy will be provided with a more comprehensive statement thereon. The Embassy is requested to transmit immediately to the Department any information gathered in the course of discussions with government officials indicating the current government thinking on any of the topics on the agenda.

[Page 268]

I. Juridical-Political Matters

(1) Peaceful Relations

a. Possibility of Revising the American Treaty of Pacific Settlement (Pact of Bogotá)2

The Department is now studying the question of whether the possibilities of achieving satisfactory revision of this treaty, in the light of the numerous reservations and its having been ratified by only 8 countries, are such as to warrant what amounts to renegotiation of the Treaty at the Conference. Should it be determined that the U.S. can usefully participate in such reconsideration, it is certain that our principal objectives would be to eliminate the features to which our reservations were principally addressed: i.e., the compulsory requirement in certain of its provisions and the relinquishment of diplomatic protection of nationals in one of its articles. In addition, we would probably favor inclusion in the Treaty of reference to the Inter-American Peace Committee as an appropriate instrument for carrying out the procedures of “Good Offices” and “Mediation”.

b. Inter-American Peace Committee

The U.S. strongly supports the IAPC, of which it is a member and has taken an active part in the preparation by the Committee of a proposal that the Conference approve the revision of its organization and procedures. The resolution drafted by the Committee would preserve the practical advantages, such as the Committee’s small size and the informality of its procedures, while at the same time opening the door to the possibility of changes in membership which would permit countries other than the present five3 to become members. It is also our view that the Conference should not approve any effort to reopen cases reported on by the Committee which have been settled in a manner satisfactory to the parties. (In view of the submission by Colombia of its dispute with Peru stemming from the asylum of Haya de la Torre, and Peru’s apparent unwillingness at this date to accept the Committee’s good offices in this case, it is possible that Colombia will seek to use this agenda item to place the Haya case before the Conference. The position of the U.S. on such a matter will depend upon developments in this case between now and the time the Conference opens.)

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c. Inter-American Court of Justice.

The U.S. opposed inclusion of this item on the agenda and does not expect to participate in the drafting of a statute for such a court, the principal reason being that its creation would involve unnecessary and unwarranted duplication of the International Court of Justice, which is an entirely adequate body for the judicial settlement of intergovernmental legal questions and to the statute of which all the American Republics are parties. (Since the proposal has considerable sentimental appeal to a number of Latin American States, especially El Salvador,4 it will be necessary to use considerable discretion in any discussion of this matter prior to the Conference, although there should be no encouragement to any Latin American government to believe that the U.S. position will change, or that this Government would become a party to such a court even if it is established by the votes of others.)

d. Other Pertinent Instruments Relating to Pacific Settlement

The inclusion of this item resulted from an Uruguayan initiative which was not supported by any clear-cut specification of what, if any, proposal might be contemplated by the Uruguayan Government. No specific projects have been submitted to date. If the question should be raised of the possibilities for action under this item on the agenda, it would be desirable to find out what, if any, specific proposal any government may have in mind.

(2) Colonies and Occupied Territories in America and Report5 of the American Committee on Dependent Territories

This item resulted from proposals by Argentina and Guatemala, and was approved in its present form by a considerable majority, with the U.S. abstaining as it did on Bogotá Resolution XXXIII6 and on inter-American action on the “colonial” issue since the Ninth Conference. The principal reasons for our continued abstention on this issue are: (a) that the status of the dependent territories is a subject which involves the interests of both American and non-American states and would therefore more properly fall within the competence of the UN, in which all the interested States are represented; and (b) that the so-called “occupied” territories aspect of the item involves disputes which should either be taken up on a bilateral basis or submitted to procedures for peaceful settlement available to all of the parties. (In the absence of instructions to the contrary, any discussion of this matter in the period before the Conference should be limited to the above two points with a [Page 270] further indication that we are carefully considering all aspects and implications of the proposed item.)

(3) Regimen of Political Asylees, Exiles and Refugees

It is not expected that we will take part in any detailed consideration of either of the draft conventions7 proposed under this item, since that on so-called “Territorial Asylum” treats of a subject which we consider is adequately covered by the Habana Convention of 1928 on Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife8 and the Protocol9 to be considered under item (4), while that on “Diplomatic Asylum” involves a doctrine which we do not recognize as part of international law and do not practice except in a very limited sense.

(4) Protocol to the Convention on Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife

The U.S. has participated in the lengthy and detailed preparation of this draft protocol, intended to clarify and strengthen the principal inter-American treaty defining obligations to prevent the preparation of international revolutionary activities. It is expected that we shall support a draft along the lines of that presented, except for an article proscribing “systematic and hostile” radio propaganda which appears to us to involve a considerable risk of endangering basic principles of freedom of information. (It is believed that the most useful result of consultation on this item will be to call the respective governments’ attention to this important project and to determine what problems the draft raises for them.)

(5) Intervention of International Communism in the American Republics

This item was proposed by the U.S. for the agenda on the basis of the points specified in the letter of Oct. 6, 195310 of the U.S. Representative11 on the COAS. (See 8th Report12 of Tenth Conference Preparatory Committee, Annex 4, page 26.) Specific projects to be introduced are still under consideration. (Pending receipt of further instructions, it is believed that discussions with Foreign Offices should be confined to: (1) indicating that we attach great importance to steps [Page 271] which will emphasize the danger to all independent governments arising from the intervention of the international communist conspiracy in their affairs and the need for effective steps to counteract this intervention; and (2) obtaining discreetly information regarding the general viewpoints of the respective governments as to what the Conference might accomplish under this item.)

  1. Not printed. (362/1–1753)
  2. For text of the treaty, signed at the Ninth International Conference of American States, held at Bogotá, Colombia, Mar. 30–May 2, 1948, but not ratified by the United States, see Ninth International Conference of American States: Report of the Delegation of the United States of America With Related Documents (Department of State Publication 3263, Washington, 1948), p. 186, or Annals of the Organization of American States, 1949, p. 97. For documentation concerning the unwillingness of the United States to ratify the treaty, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. ii, pp. 419 ff.
  3. Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, and the United States.
  4. For text of a preliminary draft statute for the establishment of an Inter-American Court of Justice, submitted to the Pan American Union by the Government of El Salvador, see Handbook for Delegates, p. 31.
  5. Published as Informe elevado al Consejo de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (Habana, 1949).
  6. For text, see Ninth International Conference of American States: Report of the Delegation of the United States, p. 268.
  7. For text of the draft conventions on territorial asylum and diplomatic asylum, see Handbook for Delegates, p. 54; for text of the definitive conventions, signed at Caracas, Mar. 28, 1954, see USDel Report, p. 175.
  8. For text of the referenced convention, signed at Habana, Feb. 20, 1928, and entered into force for the United States, May 21, 1930, see Department of State Treaty Series (TS) No. 814, or 46 Stat. (pt. 2) 2749.
  9. For text, see Handbook for Delegates, p. 62.
  10. Not found in Department of State files.
  11. Ambassador Dreier.
  12. The referenced report, dated Oct. 28, 1953, and submitted to the COAS as Document C–i–223–E (Rev. 1) on Nov. 10, 1953, is printed, without its appendices, in Annals of the Organization of American States, 1953, pp. 294 ff.