43. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

2403. Paris 3022.2 Suggest you approach Deferre urgently along following lines and inform Foreign Office:

French request for immediate termination Togoland trusteeship has presented US with difficult dilemma. US anxious avoid taking position adverse to French on this issue, especially in view of our conviction new Togoland statute represents valuable step forward and may provide useful pattern for evolution other African territories. If request for termination trusteeship were not involved, US would be prepared commend French action in most favorable terms. Hope France will be able reconsider pressing termination request for following reasons:

US support of French request would establish precedent which would tend undermine basic premises of whole trusteeship system. System is designed assure protection and support for dependent peoples until capable of self-government, either as independent [Page 169] entity or in association with others. US does not believe full independence is requirement for termination trusteeship in every case. Also recognize “self-government” is matter of degree and would not contend that trusteeship must continue until dependent territory has complete authority over all aspects of domestic and foreign affairs. However, powers reserved to France in new Togoland statute are so substantial that US would find it impossible to maintain position that objectives stated in Article 76(b) of the UN Charter have been realized.3 Is noted that reserved powers, in addition French control of foreign affairs and defense, include French jurisdiction over administration of justice, penal and commercial code, currency and foreign exchange, customs, educational curricula, etc.
US does not question validity French decision reserve foregoing powers. Reservations seem altogether realistic in view present stage development political capabilities of Togolese people. But it is for this very reason that US convinced termination trusteeship premature. Support of request for immediate termination would leave US in position of advocating termination of dependent status regardless of capabilities of local population and regardless degree of evolution attained. Would have far-reaching implications for US policy on whole range of “colonial” issues and might weaken ability of US to support continuation of European administration in other areas that are not ready for responsibilities of self-government. Vital that fundamentals of US policy re these issues be consistent. Could not hope successfully to argue that external authority in one area must be maintained until capabilities of indigenous population fully developed while proposing that protection of trusteeship system be removed in another area where indigenous capabilities less advanced. In this context, US does not necessarily regard views and sentiments expressed by indigenous population as decisive. To do so would compel us to support immediate independence for any area whose people demand independence, without regard to their ability to sustain independent existence. Such a policy would be wholly unrealistic and dangerous to vital interests of European allies.
Even if US were able support French request for termination, we see virtually no chance approval by General Assembly. Unlike US, many governments will refuse recognize enormous advance [Page 170] represented by new statute and will probably denounce new Togolese arrangements as “hoax”. Validity of referendum itself will probably be widely challenged. Moreover, present GA offers worst possible atmosphere for consideration French request. Even if we believed extent of self-government granted Togoland were sufficiently great to permit US wage vigorous campaign on behalf of France (which we do not), we would see no prospect at 11th GA of obtaining majority approval of termination, let alone required two-thirds majority. US fears overwhelming GA defeat would have much more adverse impact on French position Togoland and other parts Africa then French decision withdraw request for termination.

In light foregoing considerations, US hopes France able defer request for termination at 11th GA. If French commitments to Togolese preclude withdrawal of request, US would be prepared (if French concur) sponsor compromise resolution which would: (1) note new statute is major step forward; (2) commend French initiative; (3) empower TC to send a special mission to Togoland to observe progress and report back to the 12th GA. Believe adoption resolution along these lines would avoid open conflict between French and US positions, avoid French defeat in GA and at same time sustain Togolese hopes for termination of trusteeship at future date, after further development Togolese capacity for self-government. If French willing proceed along these lines, US would seek work out text of compromise resolution in consultation with French, and would use all practical energy and influence to secure support from LA’s and others.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751T.00/12–2256. Confidential. Repeated to USUN.
  2. This reference is apparently in error; presumably it should be to telegram 3088, supra.
  3. At a meeting with representatives of the Administering Powers and the Netherlands on December 20, Bargues claimed that the choice given the populace of French Togoland was no more restrictive than that offered the people of British Togoland, who could only gain independence through union with the Gold Coast. France could concede autonomy to the Togolese but not independence, he revealed, because of the situation in Algeria. (Memorandum for the files by Bolard More, December 31; ibid., IO/ODA Files: Lot 62 D 225, Togolands)
  4. Dillon discussed the outline of a compromise resolution with Deferre on December 26. Deferre indicated that the French Cabinet would have to consider the U.S. proposal before making a definite reply. He did note, however, that France was committed to securing as early a termination of the trust as possible and had not granted full independence because the Togolese were not yet prepared for it. Any compromise, he maintained, had to signify to the Togolese that the termination of the trust had not been rejected but only delayed pending further consideration of the matter. (Telegram 3145 from Paris, December 26; ibid., Central Files, 751T.00/12–2656)