362/1–2654: Circular airgram

The Acting Secretary of State to Diplomatic Offices in the American Republics



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

CA–3903. Reference is made to the Department’s circular instruction No. 3670 dated January 15, 1954,1 giving a brief résumé of the U.S. position on the items included under Chapter I, Juridicial-Political Matters of the agenda for the Tenth Inter-American Conference. There follows a similar résumé with respect to the items under Chapter III. Social Matters, IV. Cultural Matters and V. Organization Matters of the agenda. The Embassy is authorized to use this information subject to the same stipulations set forth in the opening paragraph of the instruction under reference.

III. Social Matters

12. Social Aspects of Economic Development.

The U.S. proposes to stress the importance of governments giving careful attention to the direct relation to the success of economic development of social factors such as health, education, labor standards, and housing. It is also planned to propose that the OAS and its specialized agencies give appropriate emphasis to social aspects of economic development in relation to their work programs and the IA–ECOSOC consider whether additional measures need to be taken to assist governments in this regard.

13. Human Rights: Measures for Promoting Human Rights Without Impairing National Sovereignty and the Principle of Non-Intervention.

The Department has received no indication from Mexico, which proposed the item, or any other of the principal advocates of action in this field, such as Uruguay, regarding any specific projects which they plan to submit. We are prepared to support practical, constructive proposals [Page 272] for resolutions or declarations which will contribute to the desired objectives of promoting the dissemination of information on, or the observance of, human rights, but are opposed to the preparation and approval of a convention on the subject or a statute of an Inter-American Court of Human Rights. (FYI, we do not plan to take the initiative with any proposals, principally because we do not want to be in the vanguard of any movement which may precipitate a sharp cleavage at the conference between governments having varying degrees of political control. The Department would be especially interested in having any information which the Embassy is able to obtain as to the attitudes of other governments on what might be done at the Conference under this item and any specific proposals which it may be planning to make. Any inquiries made should avoid, however, stimulating action on this item.)

14. Development of the Cooperative Movement in America.

It is our view that since cooperatives provide one of the practical means through which both social and economic conditions in the Americas may be improved, governments and the OAS should consider measures for assisting in their further development. On the basis of U.S. knowledge and experience, we plan to present suggestions as to steps which governments can appropriately take in this field.

15. Problems of Housing of Social Interest.

The U.S. will in general support the recommendation in the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Low Cost Housing2 relating to domestic measures designed to improve housing conditions. With regard to the financing of housing, we believe that this is largely a domestic problem involving local labor and materials. The establishment of an Inter-American Bank for Housing would not afford, in our opinion, a practical solution to the problem. (FYI, a further reason for opposing the idea of an Inter-American Bank is that it would tend to divert attention from more realistic solutions and shift to the U.S. the task of providing financial support.)

16. Causes and Effects of the Rural Exodus.

Our current thinking is to propose that the country studies already initiated on this subject by the PAU be continued and that governments, as well as the PAU and specialized organizations of the OAS, concentrate efforts on measures which will contribute to raising standards of living, particularly in rural areas.

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17. Social Welfare Work.

It is believed that substantial progress has been made in this field since the Bogota Conference and that discussion at the Tenth Conference should center upon new trends and needs, particularly the need for better trained personnel for social welfare planning and administration for social work in rural areas. We will be prepared to discuss at the Conference effective measure which governments can take to meet these needs.

IV. Cultural Matters

18. Cultural Cooperation.

We are reviewing the broad field encompassed by this general topic to determine what aspects of the current program we believe should be emphasized and whether there are new activities we may wish to recommend to the governments or to the appropriate organs of the OAS. In all likelihood we will have some proposals of our own to present, and will, of course, give careful consideration to such as are presented by other delegations.

19. Revision of the Convention for the Promotion of Inter-American Cultural Relations.3

Having originally sponsored the Convention, the U.S. maintains a keen interest in its successful operation. Experience has demonstrated that the intricate machinery which it establishes for the selection and support of grantees has obstructed full implementation of the Convention rather than insured its effectiveness as intended. From our standpoint, revision of the Convention should be confined to a simplification of these cumbersome administrative procedures, such details to be left to the participants to work out among themselves. This would have the practical effect of permitting an expansion of current activities within the limits of the established program. We are not prepared, however, to extend the scope or scale of the program for which the Convention provides, as proposed by the Pan American Union in its working paper4 on this item.5

20a. Cultural Charter of America.

In the preparation of the agenda the U.S. took the position that it would be advisable not to include this item since it was not likely that the Committee for Cultural Action (CCA) would have completed its [Page 274] work on the Charter in time for the Caracas Conference and, in any event, it was felt that a project as comprehensive as the one contemplated should first receive full consideration in the Inter-American Cultural Council. The CCA has not prepared a draft Charter and we hope that the Conference will not attempt to formulate the instrument, but entrust the task to the Cultural Council. With respect to the form in which the project should be cast, the U.S. is strongly opposed to the treaty approach.

20b. Inter-American Congress of Ministers and Directors of Education6

(The U.S. Position on this item remains to be determined.)

21. Affirmation of the Historical Interest in the Island of San Salvador.

The U.S. is prepared to take part in an appropriate act reaffirming the interest of the American Republics in the Island of San Salvador which is now generally recognized as the point of Columbus’ first landing in the New World, provided that such a step meets with the support of the majority of the other governments, and that provision is made for obtaining prior agreement of Great Britain, which exercises jurisdiction over the island, and that whatever is decided on can be financed within the limits of the funds available to the Pan American Union.

V. Organizational and Functional Matters

22. Inter-American Juridical Committee. (a) Functioning:

A committee of the Council of the OAS has completed a study of the functioning of the Juridical Committee. We consider the suggestions of this committee and the recommendation of the Inter-American Council of Jurists (No. X, Second meeting)7 that the Committee establish a fixed period of continuous work (it is now theoretically in continuous session) to be the most effective measure which might be taken in present circumstances to achieve much needed improvement in the Committee’s functioning. The length of the fixed period, in our opinion, should not exceed 2½. months a year.

(b) Selection of the Countries to be Members Thereof:

The U.S. position as to which countries it will support for election to the Committee has not been determined, but we will give careful consideration to the candidacies of any countries. (FYI, of special interest is whether the present Latin American members—Argentina, Brazil Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela—wish to [Page 275] continue or discontinue this membership. We have been informed of the desire of the Dominican Republic to be chosen for membership.)

23. Committee for Cultural Action:

(a) Functioning.

Our tentative views are that the Committee could function more effectively if: (1) it were brought into closer working relations with the organs of the OAS working in the cultural field, particularly the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Pan American Union, (2) it were to convene for a fixed period during the course of each year, as has been recommended for the Inter-American Juridical Committee.

(b) Selection of Countries to be Members Thereof.

As in the case of the slate for the Juridical Committee, the Department has not yet arrived at any firm decision as to which countries we shall support for membership on the Committee. (FYI, in the original selection of members to the Committee by the Council of the OAS (1951) the criterion was followed that the four languages should be represented. This policy will probably continue to be observed, in which case the seats held by Mexico and Uruguay would be the only ones open to change. In view of this fact, we do not want to stimulate candidacies but leave this matter up to the Spanish-speaking countries.)

24. Report8 Submitted by the Pan American Union, etc.

This report has not as yet been completed. It should furnish a basis for appraising the work of the OAS since the preceding Conference and a basis for giving general guidance for the future. (FYI, should any special problems arise in connection therewith, the Embassy will be informed.)

25. Inter-American Commission of Women.

Under this item we expect four separate reports to be presented: (1) a general summary of Commission activities and recommendations since 1948,9 (2) an analysis of laws affecting women’s civil and political rights,10 (3) a report on the economic status of working women,11 pursuant to Resolution XXIII12 of the Ninth Conference in Bogota, and (4) proposals from the IACW for amendments to its Organic Statutes.13 [Page 276] On (1) and (2), we expect to support continued work by the IACW along present lines to remove discriminations against women and encourage equal opportunities, taking note of recent progress on equal suffrage, women in public office, professional opportunities, and other matters. We understand that the report to be presented under (3) is a technical study which was completed so recently that the Commission has not had time to review the final text. We believe, therefore, that substantive discussion of the report would be premature, and Conference action should be limited to noting it and referring it back to the Commission for appropriate recommendations, with the understanding that it will first be circulated to governments and interested international agencies, including the ILO, for comment. On (4) we are prepared to support minor amendments which will aid in efficient functioning of the Commission provided these do not alter its basic organization and objectives, and may offer some additional suggestions along this line. We also will be prepared to favor referral of the problem back to the Commission itself, recognizing that it would be appropriate for the Commission, as an inter-American Specialized Organization, to modify its statutes.

26. Inter-American Specialized Conferences…:14 Standards With Reference Thereto:15

The “Standards” to be considered by the Conference were adopted by the Council of the OAS in 1949 to guide it in carrying out its responsibilities, under Articles 93 and 94 of the Charter, with regard to the planning and coordination of inter-American technical meetings. The “Standards” have been submitted to the Tenth Conference so that they may be adopted for the OAS as a whole. In the belief that inter-American cooperation through conferences may be made both more effective and, in some cases, more economical, the United States has strongly supported the Council’s efforts to carry out these responsibilities and considers the present “Standards” generally satisfactory. The U.S. may propose certain modifications for greater clarity and to insure that the provisions of the Charter will actually be applied in each case before it is decided that a forthcoming meeting is to be a “Specialized Conference” as defined in the Charter.

27. Administrative and Fiscal Policy of the OAS.

In introducing this topic, Brazil indicated that the Conference might consider: (1) new basis for financing; (2) possibilities of payment of quotas in national currencies; and (3) decentralization of certain administrative services of the PAU. It has, however, submitted no specific [Page 277] proposals. As the host government and largest contributor to the PAU budget (66%) the U.S. has a vital interest in this subject. As a general policy in these matters and without wishing to prejudge what the Brazilians propose, the U.S. believes that fiscal and administrative issues can be more adequately dealt with by the Council of the OAS. The Council, whose competence under the Charter encompasses such matters, is in a position to devote the time and effort which these highly technical and complex issues require. (FYI, we had serious misgivings regarding inclusion of this item on the agenda and abstained in the vote. It is feared that without adequate preparation the Conference may take hasty, ill-advised action which would seriously undermine the functioning of the OAS, particularly with respect to proposals for decentralizing the Pan American Union in various other American republics, and as a corollary, permitting payment of quotas in national currencies, which would have a special appeal to the Latin Americans. In an effort to minimize this risk, the U.S. succeeded in getting the Council of the OAS to request the Secretary General to prepare a special study for presentation to the Tenth Conference covering these two points. Despite repeated inquiries, the Brazilians have given us no indication as to what they intend to propose. The Embassy, is, therefore, requested to be particularly alert for any information regarding any proposals to be made under this subject.)

28. Designation of the Place of the Eleventh Inter-American Conference.16

Before arriving at any decision the U.S. would like to know the wishes of the other American republics with respect to this matter. Two countries have expressed an interest in the hostship, and we have indicated that we would be glad to take their request into consideration in determining our position. (FYI, in the selection of sites of inter-American meetings the U.S. generally follows the lead of the majority of the other American republics. The two countries which have indicated their interest in sponsoring the Eleventh Conference are the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. There has been some indication that Costa Rica might also have an interest. Since with the Caracas Conference, inter-American conferences will have been held in all the major capitals, the selection of the site for the Eleventh Conference may turn on whether to begin a second round with the major capitals or move on to the smaller ones, few, if any, of which have adequate facilities for a conference of this size.)

  1. Supra.
  2. The referenced report was published by the Pan American Union under the title Problems of Housing of Social Interest (Washington, 1954).
  3. For text of the convention, signed at Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 23, 1936, and entered into force for the United States, Dec. 7, 1937, see TS No. 928 or 51 Stat. 178.
  4. Not printed.
  5. A convention for the promotion of inter-American cultural relations was signed at Caracas, Mar. 28, 1954, and entered into force for the United States, Oct. 3, 1957; for text, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 3936, or United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 8 (pt. 2), p. 1903.
  6. Ellipsis in the source text.
  7. Reference is to the Second Meeting of the Inter-American Council of Jurists, held a Buenos Aires, Apr. 20–May 9, 1952; for additional information and the text of the Fina Act adopted by the meeting, containing Resolution X concerning the functioning of the Council of Jurists, see Annals of the Organization of American States, 1953, pp. 148 ff.
  8. Published as Report on the Activities of the Organization of American States, 1948–1953 (Washington, 1953).
  9. Submitted to the Tenth Inter-American Conference as Document 24, Memoria de la Comisión Interamericana de Mujeres, 1948–1953 (Washington, 1953).
  10. Submitted as Document 25, Derechos Civiles y Politicos de la Mujer de America (Washington, 1954).
  11. Preliminary Study on the economic status of working women in the American Republics (Washington, 1954).
  12. For text, see Ninth International Conference of American States, p. 247.
  13. For text of the Organic Statute of the Inter-American Commission of Women, approved as Resolution XXI by the Ninth International Conference of American States, see ibid., p. 243.
  14. Ellipsis in the source text.
  15. Reference is to the “Standards for the Exercise of the Authority of the Council with Respect to Specialized Conferences”, approved by the COAS, Apr. 21, 1949; for text, see Handbook for Delegates, p. 186.
  16. Quito, Ecuador was designated as the site for the Eleventh Inter-American Conference.