19. Minutes of the Eighth Meeting of the Delegation to the Tenth Session of the General Assembly, Mission Headquarters, New York, October 13, 1955, 9:30 a.m.1


[Here follows discussion of Security Council and ECOSOC elections.]

Charter Review

Mr. Sisco then took up the question of Charter review which he noted would be debated in plenary session possibly next week. Mr. Sisco recalled that the question of Charter review was automatically on the agenda of this GA and that, for this Assembly only a decision on the subject required only a majority vote in the GA plus the concurrence of 7 members of the Security Council. Mr. Sisco observed further that there was a great deal of interest in this country on the subject of Charter review. He pointed out that the Congressional Subcommittee which studied the question had left the decision up to the Executive Branch. Our position was that while we favored a decision in principle to hold a review conference, we wanted to leave the date and place open and to create a preparatory committee which would recommend to the twelfth GA the date, place, organization and procedures for the conference. We hoped in the debate, Mr. Sisco said to avoid substantive discussion of specific proposals for the amendment of the Charter.

Mr. Sisco went on to review the attitude of other governments on this question. He said that with the exception of certain Latin American states there was no strong view in favor of an early review conference. The majority of the delegations, however, favored agreement in principle for such a conference. At the same time, many countries were highly skeptical that such a conference could achieve [Page 35] anything constructive under the circumstances existing in the world today. The view was widely held, Mr. Sisco observed, that it was not the Charter which was at fault but the political situation in the world.

Mr. Sisco called attention to the draft resolution (document US/A/3754, October 122) which the British had agreed to co-sponsor with us. There were two problems, Mr. Sisco said. The first was the question of other co-sponsors. The United Kingdom wanted to limit co-sponsorship to our two countries, arguing that it was essential that tight control be maintained over the wording of the resolution. The United Kingdom feared that if other countries co-sponsored, it would be more difficult to resist textual changes. Mr. Sisco said that while we were in agreement with the UK on the need to resist changes we felt that on such an important question as this we should seek to get other co-sponsors who would not be likely to try to make substantive changes. We were working along these lines now, Mr. Sisco said.

The second problem which arose in connection with our resolution had to do with the composition of the Preparatory Committee. Mr. Sisco called attention to Delga 78 of October 11, which listed a group of states drawn from the major geographical areas who would be acceptable to the UK as members of the Committee. Agreement on this list would lead to a committee of 15 countries. The Department desired to add two more states, namely either Burma or Indonesia in order to give Asia greater representation and either Turkey or Greece to give the same to South Eastern Europe. The UK, Mr. Sisco pointed out, disagreed with our view, arguing that Asia and South Eastern Europe were adequately represented in the slate of 15 and that the inclusion of Burma or Indonesia and Turkey or Greece would lead to a demand for greater representation especially [Page 36] from the Latin Americans thus resulting in an unwieldy committee. Mr. Sisco pointed out that we had reached a point of impasse with the British on this question, they insisting that a committee of 15 was adequate and we insisting upon a committee of 17. Mr. Sisco suggested that we now needed authority to be a little more flexible.

Mr. Bell pointed out that there was no great enthusiasm among any but our own delegation for Charter review. He noted that Mr. Sisco had successfully worked to the point where the British were willing to accept our views but that we had reached a sticking point on the size of the committee. Mr. Bell endorsed Mr. Sisco’s view that we should seek enough flexibility in our negotiations with the British on this point to recede to a committee of 15, if this were absolutely essential.

Ambassador Lodge commented that he was personally very enthusiastic about the possibilities implicit in the idea of Charter review. He felt that the two or three years which would lapse before a Charter review conference was convened offered us tremendous psychological possibilities to expose the Soviet position and to put them in an embarrassing situation.

Congressmen Hays and Merrow agreed with Ambassador Lodge about the potential value of Charter review discussion. Senator Pastore also concurred, pointing out that our position on the admission of new members made it especially important for us to continue agitating for constitutional changes on the membership question. Ambassador Lodge agreed with this observation pointing out that in countries like Italy and Spain the communist position could be seriously damaged by exposing their stand on membership.

Miss Gough commented that in reaching a decision on the membership and the size of the preparatory committee it would be necessary to keep the Chinese representation issue in mind. If we should succeed in obtaining agreement to add Burma or Indonesia to the committee in return for dropping Greece or Turkey, the number of countries recognizing Communist China would be relatively greater. Miss Gough suggested that if we included Burma or Indonesia on the committee we should include a second country which did not recognize Communist China. Mr. Barco pointed out that it would be necessary also, in deciding how the committee would be constituted, to keep the balance between those who favored Charter review and those who did not. Mr. Sisco pointed out that while the Burmese were not against Charter review, they were not as enthusiastic as either Greece or Turkey. Ambassador Lodge commented that what we needed was authority from the Department to adjust the number of committee members, keeping in mind these two points. Ambassador Wadsworth suggested that we might also tell the British that we [Page 37] would accept their idea of a committee of 15 if they would go along with our desire for additional co-sponsors. It was agreed that Mr. Bell would request the Department for authority to make the necessary adjustments.

  1. Source: Department of State, IO Master Files, US/A/M(SR)/1—. Secret.

    Master Files of the extant Minutes of U.S. Delegation Meetings during the various Sessions of the U.N. General Assembly from 1946 to 1961 are in two locations: the IO Master Files at the Department of State and the USUN Files at New York. The Minutes of Delegation Meetings from the First through the Eighth Session of the General Assembly (1946–1953) were given the designation US/A/M/CHR 1–281. Beginning with the Minutes of the First Meeting of the Delegation to the Ninth General Assembly, September 21, 1954, the designation was changed to US/A/M(SR)/1—.

    For the 1955–1957 period, these files are incomplete, as the Minutes of the 4th, and 7th to 22d Meetings of the Delegation to the Twelfth Session of the General Assembly (September 17–December 14, 1957) are missing. Apparently no formal Minutes of these Meetings were ever drafted. However, the USUN Files in the Mission at New York do contain detailed draft notes on those Meetings not formally accounted for.

  2. This draft resolution reads as follows:

    Mindful that Article 10 [109], paragraph 3 of the Charter of the United Nations provides that if a general conference of the members of the United Nations for the purpose of reviewing the Charter has not been held before the 10th annual session of the General Assembly, such a conference shall be held if so decided by a majority vote of the members of the General Assembly and by a vote of any seven members of the Security Council;

    Believing that it is desirable to review the Charter in the light of the experience gained in its operation;

    Recognizing that such a review should be conducted under auspicious international circumstances;

    Decides that a general conference to review the Charter shall be held at an appropriate time;

    Further decides to appoint a Committee consisting of _________ to consider, in consultation with the Secretary-General, the question of fixing a time and place for the Conference, and its organization and procedures;

    Requests the Committee to report to the General Assembly with its recommendations at its XIIth Session.” (USUN Files, US/A/3731–3765)