16. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, July 11, 19581

SUBJECT

  • Hungary

PARTICIPANTS

  • Viscount Hood, Minister, British Embassy
  • Mr. Charles Wiggin, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • IO—Mr. Francis O. Wilcox
  • EUR—Mr. William T. Nunley
  • UNP—Miss Elizabeth Brown
  • UNP—Mr. M. H. Newlin

Mr. Wilcox said that present indications are that the UN Special Committee’s report will appear during the first part of next week.2 We were concerned that perhaps not enough was being done to keep the [Page 23] executions of Nagy, Maleter and others before the eyes of the world.3 Mr. Wilcox referred to the action taken by the ILO meeting in Geneva in rejecting the Hungarian credentials.4 There is a growing feeling in the Department Mr. Wilcox said, that we must consider “where do we go from here?”

Lord Hood asked if we had had a preview of the contents of the UN Special Committee’s report. Mr. Wilcox said he understood that, considering the composition of the Committee, the report will be generally favorable. It will not mention the possibility of a special session or placing the Hungarian item on the agenda of the 13th GA. In his opinion, it was important not to permit the indignation of the overwhelming majority of the world to evaporate between now and the time the GA meets in the middle of September. He said that the US is inclined, if enough support is forthcoming, to call for a special Assembly session. Possible action at such a special session would be to reject Hungarian credentials; condemn the Hungarian authorities for recent events in Hungary; appeal for an end to repression; and renew the mandate of the Special Committee. Lord Hood inquired whether the action contemplated against Hungarian credentials would apply not only to the special session but also to the 13th GA. Mr. Wilcox expressed the hope that any action taken by a special session to reject Hungarian credentials would be also followed by the 13th GA.

Lord Hood inquired as to the actual mechanics of possible action on Hungarian credentials. Mr. Wilcox replied that action under Articles 5 and 6 of the Charter was not contemplated, but rejection of credentials under the pertinent GA rules.5

Mr. Wilcox referred also to the pressure in the US last fall for UN action against Hungary growing in part out of reports of renewed repression in December. At that time it was decided to take no action, but Ambassador Lodge made a statement in the Assembly to the effect [Page 24] that it might be necessary to reconvene a special session of the GA should subsequent events warrant.6

Lord Hood asked whether, if action were taken in the UN to reject Hungarian credentials, the American Legation in Budapest would be closed. Mr. Wilcox replied that we did not know but were willing to accept such a risk. Mr. Wiggin observed that if a state voted in the GA to reject Hungarian credentials it was logical to assume a rupture in diplomatic relations would ensue. Mr. Wilcox thought that this was not necessarily the case and drew a distinction between representation in the UN and bilateral diplomatic relations.

Lord Hood asked when a special session could take place. Mr. Wilcox replied that we would like to see a special session convene as soon as possible after the appearance of the Special Committee’s report. Lord Hood inquired if we thought there was enough sentiment in favor of a special session. Mr. Wilcox answered in the affirmative, noting the attitude of many Latin American countries, Denmark and other Western European countries such as Italy. Lord Hood said that one could not always equate expressions of indignation with readiness to vote in the GA. Mr. Wilcox recognized this point, but nevertheless the GA had repeatedly voted to condemn Hungary in the past and many governments had shown a willingness to reject Hungarian credentials at the recent ILO meeting.

Lord Hood said that he could see the advantages of a special session from the point of view of political warfare because it would provide an opportunity to make speeches. Mr. Wilcox said that a special session would have a definite humanitarian purpose too in that it might deter future executions and repression. He thought it would be a great mistake to sit by and permit the Soviet Union to divert attention from the Hungarian situation. Lord Hood promised to consult London and give an answer as soon as possible.

Lord Hood inquired as a practical matter how long would it take to convene a special session and how long such a session would usually last. Mr. Wilcox said that a special session could be convened in less than two weeks and that ordinarily its business, depending on the number of speeches, could be completed in three or four days. He mentioned that the Italians had informed us that they were in favor of a special session. Lord Hood said that an alternate course of action would be to inscribe the Hungarian question on the agenda of the 13th GA. Mr. Wilcox thought that this would permit present indignation to evaporate. Lord Hood asked if a condemnatory resolution would mention the Soviet Union. Mr. Nunley interjected that a primary objective [Page 25] of a special session would be to fix Soviet reponsibility for the situation in Hungary. Any resolution adopted should also contain an appeal to stop future trials and executions.

  1. Source: Department of State, IO Files: Lot 60 D 216, Hungary. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Newlin on July 15 and cleared by Wilcox.
  2. Reference is to the Report of the Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary, released July 14; U.N. doc. A3849
  3. On June 16, Radio Moscow announced that former Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy, General Pal Maleter, and other Hungarian officials had been executed for their participation in the 1956 uprising.
  4. After learning of the executions, the 42d regular International Labor Organization Conference, which met at Geneva June 4–26, voted by a two-thirds majority to reject the entire Hungarian Delegation’s credentials.
  5. Article 5 of the U.N. Charter states: “A Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council.” Article 6 states: “A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” For text of the U.N. Charter, see 3 Bevans 1153. For text of the U.N. General Assembly Rules of Procedure, see U.N. doc. A520/Rev. l5.
  6. For text of Lodge’s December 14, 1957, statement, see U.N. doc. APV.731.