45. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, April 29, 19571


  • US-Indian Resolution on Togoland in the Trusteeship Council


  • Ambassador Alphand, French Embassy
  • Minister Vimont, French Embassy
  • Mr. Elbrick, EUR
  • Mr. Wilcox, IO
  • Mr. McGregor, ODA
  • Mr. Nunley, EUR

Ambassador Alphand opened the discussion by referring to the UNGA resolution on Togoland adopted in January, 1957.2 He said that this resolution had not been fully satisfactory to the French, but indicated that it represented a reasonable compromise under the circumstances and said that the French Government was pleased at having had US cooperation in achieving this compromise. He emphasized the importance of solidarity between the US and France, and among the other Western powers, on critical African problems. He then said that the French Government had been very surprised and disturbed that the US Representative on the Trusteeship Council joined India—a government not noted for friendship toward France—in sponsoring a resolution so critical of the French program in Togoland.3

Alphand observed that the proposed resolution, in addition to its critical reference to the existing Togolese territorial government and its demand for a change in the electoral system, contained a favorable reference to Mr. Olympio who is an avowed enemy of France and who represents only a small minority of the population of Togoland.4 He said the French Government was especially surprised to see such a resolution tabled without advance consultation with the French, apparently on the sole basis of Olympio’s allegations. In view of the common interests which France and the US [Page 173] have in the future of Africa, the Ambassador went on, this lack of consultation was difficult to understand.5

Ambassador Alphand pointed out that the present Togolese legislative assembly was approved by 72% of the local population, despite abstention of certain political elements such as Olympio’s followers. He said the statute provides that the Assembly is elected for a five-year period, and added that the electoral responsibility now belongs to Togolese authorities rather than to France. He stressed the point that the new electoral law represents a very remarkable step forward and said that France stands alone in black Africa in organizing elections based upon popular vote. Why, he asked, does the United States feel compelled to enjoin France to do what France has already said it wants to do and in fact had actually done to a greater extent than anyone else?

The Ambassador said that the passage of the resolution would have psychological consequences which might jeopardize the French program throughout Africa and not merely within Togoland itself. For this reason, continued support of the resolution could not be regarded by the French Government as a friendly act. He said the French Government takes a very serious view of this situation and would like to see the resolution withdrawn or else to see the US vote against it if India persists in pressing it.

Mr. Wilcox asked whether the resolution embodies any significant new elements over and beyond the content of the UNGA resolution of January. Ambassador Alphand indicated that the only distinctly new element is the favorable reference to Olympio. However, he added, the new TC resolution is based on a paragraph to which the French objected in the original GA resolution. The French voted against this paragraph, as did the United States, but later accepted it within the context of the resolution as a whole.6 The present problem arises from the fact that the substance of this one objectionable paragraph has been pulled out of context and made the subject of a separate resolution, and has been put forward before the other actions contemplated by the original resolution have been taken; in other words, before the visiting commission has studied the over-all situation and has reported to the TC.

Mr. Elbrick said that he is not surprised at the French reaction, particularly in view of the apparent absence of consultation, but said that he was surprised that the original reaction of the French [Page 174] delegation in New York seemed to be so mild. Ambassador Alphand insisted that the French reaction in New York was not mild, and that the attitude of the French delegation had been misunderstood. He added that the French first thought that the resolution was being sponsored solely by India and therefore did not react strongly since they were not surprised at India’s undertaking such an initiative.

Mr. Elbrick said he was not fully informed on all aspects of the problem, but that he was unable to see any reason why it should be necessary to act on the proposed resolution before the report of the visiting commission. He suggested that operative paragraph 5 of the original GA resolution might provide a basis for postponing the new resolution.7

Mr. Wilcox said that he could not say at this time what the US may be able to do about the matter. He said that he personally would probably have not taken the same position as the US Delegation in New York,8 but that he could not criticize the action of the Delegation without studying the problem in more detail and obtaining more background information. Even if it should be determined that the proposed resolution is unwise, he indicated, there will remain a serious question as to the best method of proceeding to rectify the situation, since it is difficult for us to vote against a proposal that we ourselves have taken the initiative in raising. However, he concluded, we will begin at once to reexamine the problem and will inform the French Embassy of our decision as soon as possible.9

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751T.00/4–2957. Confidential. Drafted by W.T. Nunley.
  2. See footnote 3, supra.
  3. U.N. doc. T/L 754, jointly introduced by India and the United States on April 26.
  4. Olympio was an Ewe nationalist who favored the unification of the Ewe of British and French Togoland and Ghana and opposed the incorporation of French Togoland in the French Union.
  5. The French were not given a copy of the draft resolution until the day before it was introduced.
  6. Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1046(XI) “Recommends that, in addition to such further reforms as the authorities concerned may deem appropriate, the Legislative Assembly of the Territory should be constituted, as soon as possible, by election on the basis of universal adult suffrage.”
  7. Paragraph 5 “Requests the Trusteeship Council to study the question, taking into account the report of the Commission, and to transmit the results of its study to the General Assembly at its twelth session.”
  8. Following the Indian approach, members of the U.S. Delegation to the Trusteeship Council discussed the draft resolution. Sears called Gerig on April 25, seeking Department instructions. Gerig was not enthusiastic about the text, but was persuaded to go along with it. (Memorandum from McGregor to Wilcox, April 29; Department of State, IO/ODA Files: Lot 62 D 225, Togoland (French))
  9. McGregor called Bargues on May 2 to indicate that the United States would propose that the election issue not be immediately discussed pending the special session of the Trusteeship Council scheduled for September to consider the report of the visiting Commission, which would soon embark for Togoland. He made it clear, however, that timing and not the substance of the draft resolution was the controlling factor. (Memorandum by McGregor, May 3; ibid.) On May 7, Sears, speaking in the Trusteeship Council, moved that the question be temporarily postponed. The Indian proposal was thus defeated on a tie vote. (Department of State Press Release 2677, May 22, 1957)