321. Telegram From the Mission at the United Nations to the Department of State1

Delga 453. For Secretary from GADel. Re apartheid. As GA each year discusses problem racial segregation in South Africa, I find it increasingly difficult justify our position abstention.2 Declaring as we so often do our belief in moral principles and necessity support Charter, our inability join others this issue has effect confirming suspicion many African and Asian members UN that on racial and colonial issues we have different standards in judging problems white and non-white peoples. Fortunately this year our stand could in part be mitigated by pointing to our responsibilities on South West Africa Good Offices Comite.

This question taken up by del before and after consideration in Special Political Comite, del is firmly convinced that if we mean what we say on racial segregation we should be more forthright in our stand in UN. Del recommends US revise policy on apartheid before next year with view to supporting moderate resolution critical South African policy this issue for following reasons:

“Yes” vote on moderate resolution critical of apartheid is most consistent with US beliefs, traditions and law. Ethical position US before world rests on bedrock human rights and civil liberties, [Page 834] and it is our interest maintain best possible posture on racial questions before UN.
Department’s policy abstaining on apartheid was set before Supreme Court’s decision to effect segregation in education was necessarily discriminatory,3 before new civil rights legislation, and before President’s decision use troops to enforce decisions Federal Court in Little Rock.4 These developments make it even more important we express ourselves positively on racial issues.
Apartheid arouses strong feelings particularly among peoples of colonial backgrounds. Our abstention regarded by them in simplest terms as meaning we have one standard for white and another for colored races. It will not help us when next we seek Afro-Asian support on US-Soviet issues involving human rights and freedoms.
Regardless our feelings on desirability apartheid issue being placed before UN, fact is it probably will continue to be and resolution critical of South Africa’s apartheid policies will be put forward. Indians and Pakistanis themselves kept resolution remarkably moderate this year, but because of our known policy of abstention US Del was unable to exert any influence on it. We were not even shown copy until it was introduced. Ability to vote “yes” on resolution along lines of one this year would enable US Del in future to assure UN action remains moderate and in proper perspective.

View these considerations US Del urges reconsideration at high level of our present position on apartheid.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 845A.411/11–2057. Confidential.
  2. Telegram 398 to USUN, October 31, instructed the delegation to abstain on the apartheid resolution then under consideration by the Special Political Committee on the Question of Race Conflict in South Africa. (Ibid., 845A.411/10–3157) The draft resolution was adopted on November 4 by a vote of 59 to 5, with 10 abstentions.
  3. Reference is to the Supreme Court’s decision of May 17, 1954, in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
  4. President Eisenhower sent Federal troops to Little Rock Arkansas, in September 1957.
  5. The United States was one of 14 nations abstaining on November 26 when the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1178(XII) by a vote of 59 to 6. The General Assembly thereby appealed to the Union Government “to revise its policy in the light of” the purposes and principles “enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations” and in response to world opinion. See Yearbook of the United Nations 1957, pp. 98-102.