8. Instruction From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1



  • Tenth Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly
The tenth regular session of the General Assembly is scheduled to convene in New York on September 20. Enclosed for your information is the Department’s check list of items certain or likely to arise at the session (document SD/A/337/Rev.1).2 Items are arranged according to their probable allocation to the plenary meetings of the Assembly and its seven Main Committees. Items not bracketed are included in the provisional agenda which was circulated by the Secretary General on July 22, or have subsequently been proposed for inclusion in the supplementary agenda which will be circulated by the Secretary General not later than August 31. Bracketed questions may be proposed for consideration as separate items or raised in connection with the discussion of certain agenda items. As in previous years we would appreciate any information you may receive regarding any items which the Government to which you are accredited is likely to propose for inclusion in the agenda. However, we are anxious to avoid giving any impression that we wish to stimulate the introduction of new items.
We are planning, as in previous years, to consult informally with other friendly governments in advance of the Assembly concerning significant agenda items. Consultations will be held on the basis of our tentative views in order that we may be able to take the views of other governments into account in the formulation of our final positions. We shall, therefore, between now and the convening [Page 11] of the GA, send several communications setting forth our tentative positions on a number of issues which you will be asked to discuss with the government to which you are accredited. We shall parallel your approaches with consultations, through USUN, with permanent delegations in New York and in some cases with diplomatic representatives in Washington. In accordance with the suggestion of a number of Missions we shall enclose with certain of these communications, particularly those dealing with technical subjects, suggested texts of aides-mémoires which you may wish to present to the Foreign Office. With regard to certain items which will be considered by the Political Committees of the GA, we would prefer that they be discussed informally with Foreign Office officials, although you may, in your discretion, also present an appropriate written statement if you consider that such a procedure is likely to be most productive.
Outlined below are the Department’s tentative positions on a number of items which will be dealt with in the Political Committees or in plenary sessions. You are requested, in your discretion, to outline these views to the Foreign Office and to report its reactions as soon as possible. As noted above, you should indicate that these positions are tentative and that we shall wish to take account insofar as possible of the views of other friendly governments in determining our final positions. Any significant information you receive should be cabled if it is not likely to be received in the Department by September 9 if sent by air despatch. (Detailed background information on most of the issues you will be asked to discuss may be found in the Annual Reports of the President to Congress on US Participation in the United Nations.)

(a) President of the Tenth GA

Jose Maza of Chile is the only candidate, and the consensus appears to be that a Latin American should be elected this year. In accordance with our usual policy with respect to Latin American candidacies for UN posts, we shall wish to ascertain the view of the Latin American caucus before taking a final decision. (For your information, while the caucus has not yet met on this matter, it appears that Maza will be the Latin American candidate and we would of course support him.)

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(b) Elections to UN Councils3

Background information on these elections is outlined below. The Department is actively considering its position and you will be informed as soon as possible of decisions reached. (We shall, of course, support Latin American countries to replace Latin Americans, but in accordance with our usual policy we shall await the views of the Latin American states before deciding for whom we shall vote. We shall oppose the election to the Councils of Soviet bloc candidates. The Big Five have always been represented on ECOSOC and it is axiomatic that the United States will be reelected.)

Security Council The GA will elect three non-permanent Members for two-year terms to succeed Brazil, New Zealand, and Turkey whose terms expire on December 31, 1955. Cuba is the only announced candidate to succeed Brazil; Australia to succeed New Zealand; and the Philippines and Poland to succeed Turkey.

Economic and Social Council. The GA will elect six countries for three-year terms to succeed Australia, Venezuela, India, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and the United States whose terms expire on December 31 of this year. Canada is a candidate to succeed Australia; Costa Rica and Brazil to succeed Venezuela; and Indonesia to succeed India. Greece is a candidate for the seat of either Yugoslavia or Turkey, and Yugoslavia is running for reelection. We understand Turkey may seek reelection and that Thailand may also become a candidate. In addition, it is possible that a Soviet satellite may seek Yugoslavia’s seat which was occupied by Soviet bloc Members until 1953.

Trusteeship Council. The GA will elect two states for three-year terms to succeed El Salvador and Syria. Guatemala is a candidate to succeed El Salvador. Burma and Liberia are candidates for Syria’s seat and the incumbent is seeking to be reelected.

(c) Treatment of Indians in South Africa

This item has been included in the provisional agenda again this year pursuant to the resolution adopted at the last Assembly session. That resolution (a) suggested to the Governments of India, Pakistan and South Africa that they seek a solution of this question by direct negotiations; (b) suggested that the parties designate a Government, agency or person to facilitate contacts between them and assist them in settling the dispute; (c) decided that if the parties failed to reach agreement on the foregoing suggestion within six months, the Secretary General should designate a person for the purposes specified; and (d) requested the Secretary General to report to the forthcoming [Page 13] Assembly session. The Secretary General is expected to report that the parties failed to reach agreement in accordance with (b) above and that he therefore (in July) appointed Mr. Luis de Faro (Brazil) to facilitate contacts between them and assist them in settling the dispute.

We understand that the Indian Government is prepared to agree to a postponement of further discussion of this issue until the eleventh GA session (1956) to permit sufficient time for Mr. de Faro to exercise his good offices in accordance with the resolution adopted last year. We would support action to this effect. We continue to believe that the only real hope for a settlement of this dispute lies in direct negotiations between the parties.

(d) Race Conflict in South Africa (Apartheid)

A Commission of three individuals [Santa Cruz (Chile); Bellegarde (Haiti); Laugier (France)]4 established by the GA in 1952 was requested by the last session of the Assembly to keep this problem under review and to report to the forthcoming session. While the Commission’s report is not yet available it is clear that it will again report failure to make any progress toward a solution.

As in previous years the United States will not play a leading role in the consideration of this question. We intend, however, to point out that from the outset we questioned the wisdom of establishing the Commission. The experience of the past three years has demonstrated that this body is not in a position to play a useful role. We therefore see no utility in its continuance. Because we consider that singling out South Africa for criticism and censure neither improves the situation in South Africa nor contributes to the success of United Nations efforts to promote respect for human rights, we would look with favor on a generalized proposal along the lines of a resolution adopted in 1952, which proclaimed general standards of conduct in the field of human rights (with particular emphasis on race relations), or possibly a proposal for some arrangement providing means for the voluntary exchange of experience on racial questions between countries having such problems. We believe that such an approach would be more likely to obtain constructive results than a purely political approach directed exclusively at South Africa.

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(e) Korea

The participants on the UN side at the Korean Political Conference (Geneva, 1954)5 stressed in their report to the last GA that agreement had not been reached because the Communists refused to agree on procedures for genuinely free elections under UN supervision. The Ninth GA (a) approved the report; (b) reaffirmed “that the objectives of the UN remain the achievement by peaceful means of a unified, independent and democratic Korea under a representative form of government and the full restoration of international peace and security in the area”; (c) expressed the hope that progress towards these objectives could soon be achieved; and (d) requested the Secretary General to include the question of Korea in the provisional agenda of the forthcoming session.

There has been no indication that the position of the Communists has changed—specifically that they are willing to accept the principle of genuinely free elections under United Nations auspices. In these circumstances we believe that no useful purpose would be served by further UN discussion at this time of the question of Korean unification and that the GA should confine any action merely to a renewed expression of hope that progress toward the achievement of UN objectives in Korea can soon be made, and to taking note of the annual report of UNCURK.

(f) Chinese Representation

We shall, of course, continue actively to oppose any efforts designed to change the representation of China in the General Assembly. As last year, we shall take the position that the Assembly should decide not to consider any proposals designed to exclude the representatives of the Government of the Republic of China and/or to seat Chinese Communists. (For your information, by taking the foregoing procedural position and avoiding votes on the substance we anticipate that we should be able again this year to achieve our policy objective with maximum free-world support and with minimum difficulty.)

(g) Atomic Radiation

Although scientific data available to the United States indicates that properly safeguarded nuclear testing does not constitute a threat to human health, we believe that all possible information should be made available to all nations as a basis for their own evaluation of the problems of radiation. The United States has therefore proposed [Page 15] that the following new item be included in the Assembly’s agenda: “Coordination of information relating to the effects of atomic radiation upon human health and safety”. Our explanatory memorandum (which the Secretary General will circulate to all UN Members) includes the following principal points: (a) we recognize that widespread concern exists regarding the question of atomic radiation and its effects upon human health and safety; (b) we note that competent scientists in the United States and other countries are making intensive studies of this question and that although a large amount of scientific data relating to this question already exists, this information has not been systematically assembled and internationally disseminated; and (c) we believe that the United Nations is the appropriate agency to collect, assemble, and make available this information.

We intend to seek GA endorsement of an appropriate resolution which will (a) establish a small UN Committee (composed of technical representatives appointed by a few Governments) which would receive and assemble radiological information furnished by States Members of the UN or the specialized agencies; (b) request the Committee to transmit from time to time as appropriate such data to UN Members for their information; and (c) call upon States Members of the UN and the specialized agencies to cooperate in making available to the Committee (1) reports on observed levels of radiation, and (2) the results of studies of radiation effects upon human health and safety already under way or later undertaken by their national scientific bodies or by government authorities.

(For your information, we strongly believe that the terms of reference of the UN Committee should be confined, as indicated above, to the assembly and dissemination of radiological data. We would actively resist any efforts to expand the terms of reference in such a way as to permit the Committee to carry on an independent investigation and evaluation of radiation effects since (a) pressure might be exerted upon us to disclose classified scientific data and we would be accused of non-cooperation if we refused; and (b) this might open the door to politically motivated studies designed to prove the “harmful effects” of test explosions.)

(h) Disarmament

The meetings of the Subcommittee of the Disarmament Commission (France, Canada, USSR, UK, US) will be resumed on August 29 and may continue during the GA session. Moreover, the disarmament question is on the agenda of the Four-Power Foreign Minister Meetings scheduled to be held in Geneva in October.6 In these [Page 16] circumstances it seems clear that it will not be appropriate for the GA to consider the disarmament question until the latter part of its session. Barring some unforeseen development, we anticipate that it may not be prudent for the GA to engage in a detailed substantive debate of the question, and action might well be confined merely to a request that the Disarmament Commission Subcommittee continue its efforts and to an expression of hope that progress can be made during the forthcoming year.

(i) Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy

This question was considered by the last GA as a result of United States initiative. The resolution adopted on December 4, 19547 inter alia (a) noted that negotiations were in progress for the establishment of an International Agency to facilitate the use by the entire world of atomic energy for the benefit of mankind; (b) expressed the hope that the Agency would be established without delay; (c) suggested that the Agency (when established) should negotiate an appropriate form of agreement with the UN; (d) suggested that UN Members be informed of progress achieved in the establishment of the Agency; and (e) decided that an international technical Conference of Governments (UN and specialized agency Members) should be held, under UN auspices, to explore means of developing the peaceful uses of atomic energy through international cooperation and, in particular, to study the development of atomic power and to consider other technical areas—such as biology, medicine, radiation protection, and fundamental science—in which international cooperation might most effectively be accomplished.

The forthcoming Assembly session will have before it a report submitted by the Secretary General concerning the international technical Conference which convened in Geneva on August 8. In addition, the United States and presumably other governments will report on progress made in their countries during the past year in developing atomic energy for peaceful purposes. The United States, inter alia, will report that we have now increased to 200 kilograms the amount of fissionable material which we will make available to other countries for the development of their own programs in this field; that we have concluded bilateral arrangements with a number of countries, making available to them varied amounts of fissionable material; and that we and seven other countries (UK, France, Canada, [Page 17] South Africa, Portugal, Australia, and Belgium) have prepared a draft agreement providing for the establishment of the International Agency. The draft agreement for the Agency will be made available to all UN and specialized agency Members for their comments, if possible prior to the convening of the GA. (For your information, negotiations with the USSR with respect to its possible membership in the Agency are continuing.)

We believe that it would be appropriate for the GA to (a) note with satisfaction the report submitted by the Secretary General concerning the technical conference; (b) note with satisfaction the reports of governments concerning their activities in the development of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and in particular the progress toward the establishment of the International Agency; (c) express the hope that the Agency will be speedily established; and (d) reaffirm the suggestion expressed in the GA resolution last year that the Agency negotiate as soon as possible an appropriate form of an agreement with the UN.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320/8–1155. Confidential. Sent to 54 posts and repeated to 11 others.
  2. Dated August 1. (Ibid., IO Files, SD Series, 1955–1958)
  3. Documentation on this topic is ibid., Central Files, 320/ and 330/; ibid., UNP Files: Lot 59 D 237, Elections; and ibid., IO Files: Lot 60 D 113, U.S. Mission Correspondence and UNESCO. See also Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations file for records of telephone discussions between Dulles and Lodge on this topic during and before the meetings of the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Sessions of the General Assembly, 1955–1957.
  4. Hernan Santa Cruz, Dantes Bellegarde, and Henri Laugier. Brackets in the source text.
  5. For documentation concerning the Geneva Conference on Korea, April 26–June 15, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, volume XVI.
  6. For documentation, see volume V.
  7. Reference is to Resolution No. 810 (IX), “International co-operation in developing the peaceful uses of atomic energy,” adopted at the 503d plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 4, 1954. For text, see United Nations General Assembly Official Records, Ninth Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/2890), Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly during its Ninth Session from 21 September to 17 December, 1954, pp. 4–5.