A. Notes on Sources and Presentation of Material for the Geneva Conference on Korea

1. The nature of the Conference

Essentially the Geneva Conference on Korea was a two-sided affair with 16 Allied delegations confronting 3 Communist delegations. The Conference did not resolve the Korean question, did not reach any agreed positions, and, indeed, did not even vote on any proposals, since the Conference rules were very loose and informal and incorporated no procedures for voting. The Conference terminated with no agreement save the obvious one of continuing to disagree.

While the Conference was not open to the public, the statements and proposals made in the plenary sessions were for public consumption. Speeches were handed out to the press, as were the various proposals, for maximum publicity. The one restricted session on Korea, held on May 1, was restricted only in the number of nations attending—seven rather than nineteen; otherwise, the restricted session was as well publicized as the plenary sessions.

2. Presentation of the material

Due to the maximum use of publicity by the delegations and the quasi-open nature of the sessions, telegraphic summaries have been used to cover the meetings, with footnote references in each case to the minutes of the various meetings. This has been done in order to avoid repetition and save space in the volume.

The documentation is set forth in strictly chronological order, with no topical break-downs. Where telegraphic summaries of meetings were transmitted some time after the events, the documents have been given an italic heading to show the time of the meetings and have been placed in the compilation at that time.

Printed below are complete lists of the plenary sessions and the meetings of the heads of the 16 Allied delegations. (See sections C and D.)

3. Unpublished sources

The principal source of documentation in the Department of State central files is decimal file 396.1–GE. Some preliminary material is contained in file 396.1–BE (the Berlin Conference file), and some [Page 4] additional papers are in the main decimal files for Korea 795.00 and 795B.00.

In addition to the decimal files, several lot files are important. The large, consolidated Conference file, lot 60 D 627, contains the best single collection of material on the Conference. Also of considerable value are three retired lot files of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs, FE files, lots 55 D 480, 55 D 481, and 60 D 330.

4. Published sources

Overshadowed as it was by the Indochina Conference, the Korean Conference has not been heavily covered in secondary and memoir literature. For overall views of the Geneva Conference with occasional brief references to Korea, one should consult the list of published sources in this volume for the Indochina phase.

Two publications are useful because they reprint most of the statements and proposals made at the Conference on Korea. The first is a British White Paper, Documents Relating to the Discussion of Korea and Indo-China at the Geneva Conference, April 27–June 15, 1954 (Cmd. 9186). The second is The Korean Problem at the Geneva Conference, April 26–June 15, 1954 (Department of State publication 5609, October 1954). The latter has been used most often for citations to the text of speeches referred to in the telegraphic summaries on the meetings. In addition, some of the statements are printed in appropriate 1954 issues of the Department of State Bulletin.

5. Documentation on United States–People’s Republic of China Contacts

As a result of the presence of the two delegations in Geneva for the Conference, contacts took place informally and apart from the sessions, principally on the matter of nationals detained in each country who wished to return to their homes. For documentation of these contacts not printed here, see volume XIV.