47. Memorandum of a Conversation, Washington, October 23, 19571


  • Termination of Trusteeship for French Togo


  • M. Alphand, Ambassador of France
  • M. Lucet, Minister, French Embassy
  • M. de Laboulaye, Counselor, French Embassy
  • M. Leprette, First Secretary, French Embassy
  • M. Ajavon, President, Togolese Assembly
  • M. Apedo-Amah, Minister of Finance, French Togo
  • Mr. Ferguson, AFS
  • Mr. Ludlow, NEA
  • Mr. Gerig, ODA

Ambassador Alphand invited Messrs. Ferguson, Ludlow and Gerig to a small stag dinner last night to discuss informally and hear further detailed views of the two Togolese leaders regarding termination of trusteeship for French Togo.

The gist of the French and Togolese views, as explained by the Ambassador and by President Ajavon,2 is as follows:

The French wish to have a resolution adopted by the present Assembly which would be based on a recognition by the Assembly that in accordance with Article 76(b) of the Charter, French Togo is in process of reaching one of the two objectives, namely, self-government, and therefore the GA should immediately provide for the termination of trusteeship.
The resolution which the French have in mind (which they said they have in draft and would make available to us shortly) would include the following essential points: (a) the Assembly to agree that the trusteeship should be terminated automatically when two or perhaps three conditions have been fulfilled. First, that France make a further transfer of powers to the Togolese Government which would include everything except foreign affairs, defense and currency (a French concession), and (b) that new elections on universal suffrage basis be held during 1958 to elect a new Legislative Assembly for Togo, and (c) that these elections might be observed by the UN at the invitation of the present Togolese Government (the last two are regarded as Togolese concessions because the present Legislative Assembly which was elected on a restricted suffrage basis in 1955 could still function for three more years).
The Togolese leaders would explain to the GA that such a transfer of powers and such a newly elected Legislative Assembly would grant to French Togo full self-government. They would explain further that they do not wish to have independence at the present time, since they are not in a position to provide for their own defense nor to conduct their foreign affairs nor to operate their own currency system. By their own choice, therefore, they are requesting that these powers, for the time being, be exercised by the French Government, pending a possible later assumption of some or all of these powers. However, in their view., the Charter objective of self-government would be fulfilled and therefore the UNGA should not deprive them of the full exercise of their autonomy.

Ambassador Alphand went on to say that they hoped the US Delegation would appreciate the importance of these concessions by the French and the Togolese and would be able to support them and perhaps co-sponsor such a resolution. The Ambassador went on to emphasize that if greater steps toward independence were insisted upon by the GA, it would lead to chaos and would provide the minority opposition in Togo, led by Sylvanus Olympio and others, to open the way for extreme left and fellow-traveling if not communist elements to get control.

We said that we were not in a position to express any views for the Department since we did not yet have knowledge of the details of their plan and the draft resolution which they hope to have laid before the Assembly. We would, however, certainly give the most serious study to their proposal.

We pointed out, however, that such a plan which, in effect, would ask the Assembly to give a kind of blank check for a future development, would probably, in the light of our past experience, encounter a good deal of opposition. As they know, it was necessary to get a two-thirds vote, or 56 out of 82, which is extremely difficult at best. Moreover, if no provision is made in the resolution for some future assumption of independence before the trusteeship is terminated, there will likely be a number of delegations, particularly from the so-called Afro-Asian group, who would find the proposal inacceptable.

Ambassador Alphand said that they were fully aware of these difficulties, but believed that it was better to be defeated on a reasonable proposal than to pander to a number of prejudiced delegations who did not have the best interests of the Togolese people in view, nor the wider interests of West Africa.

The Ambassador was exceedingly disdainful of the large number of small countries who exercise, as he said, irresponsible views and voting powers in the GA. M. Ajavon added that if the Assembly does not accept this plan in its essentials, then the Government and people of Togo would be willing to disregard the trusteeship and [Page 182] might make it impossible for further reports to be made to the Trusteeship Council on matters which are wholly within the autonomous powers of Togo.

In the course of the discussion, the French and Togolese gentlemen pointed out that they could expect no support from Ghana, and therefore the UK would be somewhat embarrassed also to fully fall in behind the French and Togolese plan. Ghana, they said, has a long-range objective of assimilating French Togo as they assimilated British Togo last year. Ghana, therefore, will support a plan for immediate independence of French Togo in the hope that this would be the first step for breaking away from France and to become a part of a greater Ghana.

We asked the gentlemen whether they had been in contact with other African delegations, such as Liberia, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan and Ethiopia. They said that they had had some preliminary conversations but nothing very decisive. We further asked if they had taken up their plan with Canada and Denmark, since those two countries had furnished members to the recent Special Commission which visited the Territory. They said they had not gone very far in this direction either, and had wished, first of all, to get US reaction, and if possible our support.

We said that we would, of course, discuss the matter urgently in the Department and would hope that our views would take shape in a relatively short time.

At the close of the discussion the Ambassador said France attached the highest importance to the question and he intended to take it up with the Secretary.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751T.00/10–2457. Confidential. Drafted by Gerig on October 24.
  2. Robert Ajavon was one of the leaders of the Parti Togolais du Progrès.
  3. No record has been found to indicate that Alphand took this matter up with Dulles. On November 29, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1182(XII) by a vote of 50 (France and the United States) to 1 (Ghana), with 29 abstentions. It provided for U.N. supervision of the prospective elections for the Legislative Assembly and requested the Trusteeship Council to report to the General Assembly at its next session so as to enable it, if so requested, to reach a decision concerning the termination of the Trusteeship Agreement.