396.1 GE/6–2954: Telegram

Nineteenth Restricted Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 29, 1954, 3 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 542. Repeated information Paris 18, London 333, Moscow 150, Saigon 225, Tokyo 163, Vientiane, Phnom Penh unnumbered. Tokyo for CINCFE. Department pass Defense. Following is text my statement, 19th Indochina restricted session, Tuesday, June 29, 1954:

I listened with interest to Mr. Pham Van Dong‘s statement and I have carefully studied further the Soviet proposal of June 14. With some minor differences this proposal seems very similar to the control Korean organization under Korean armistice agreement.

Also at our last meeting the delegate of the Soviet Union again made reference to the military armistice commission and the neutral nations supervisory commission in Korea and spoke of them in flattering terms. He described the work of these commissions in a manner apparently designed to have us believe that the supervisory commission now operating in Korea could be used as an example for this conference in our efforts to work out an effective control system for a cease-fire in Indochina.

I wish that I could agree with the Soviet representative’s statement that, and I use his words, “the Korean example is a good one”. The fact is that the NNSC system of control in Korea does not work. This can be demonstrated very simply: There is no effective supervision in North Korea. This is not just the conclusion of the US but, as the US delegation has frequently pointed out, that of the representatives in Korea of Sweden and Switzerland, two countries whose complete impartiality and objectivity is accepted by the majority of the delegates at this table.

I mention this because I think it important that we learn the lessons which can be drawn from the Korean experience and to profit by them.

What lessons can we learn from the Korean experience?

First of all it is absolutely essential that all members of a supervisory commission be truly impartial.

Another lesson of our experience with control machinery in Korea is that the supervisory commission must be able to make its decisions by majority vote. The fact that the neutral nations supervisory commission [Page 1265] in Korea consists of four members, two of whom are not impartial, obviously is responsible for the state of deadlock of the commission there; but even if an odd number of nations were to compose the commission, such as five or three, the probability of deadlock, especially on important issues, would be no less great if one member could veto the decisions of the rest. The solution is not to suggest that the supervisory commission operate according to majority vote on some issues and by unanimity on others, since the “other issues” are obviously the important ones and those on which deadlock would be most harmful to the maintenance of peace.

A third lesson of the experience with control in Korea is that the two belligerent sides, represented in the military armistice commission, have not been able to work out their differences between themselves. I will not dwell here on why this has been so. Irrespective of why the military armistice commission in Korea has been unable to correct the situation of inadequate supervision, we must recognize that some provision must be made to resolve differences between the two parties when they occur. In Korea the neutral nations supervisory commission has not performed and cannot perform this function. The lesson we have learned is that both sides must invest in an impartial body the authority to render decisions when agreement between the sides cannot be reached. As Ambassador Chauvel so effectively pointed out last Friday, both sides can demonstrate their good faith in a real sense by accepting the mediatory role of a truly impartial body.

As the US delegation has frequently stated, it believes that if the entirely reasonable proposal that the UN carry out this role is not accepted, the five countries of India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Burma and Ceylon should be acceptable to all parties genuinely interested in restoring and maintaining peace in Indochina.