340. Memorandum of Conversation0



  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Wilcox
    • Mr. Satterthwaite
    • Mr. Hadsel
  • South Africa
    • Mr. Eric Louw, Minister of External Affairs, Union of South Africa


  • South African Attitudes at the United Nations

By way of preliminary, Mr. Louw mentioned that he would be in Washington October 14–16 for the Conference on the Antarctic2 and would then return to the Union of South Africa by way of Chile and the Argentine, where his country had Legations.

With respect to the items on Indians in South Africa and apartheid, Mr. Louw planned to put on record the objections of his Government to their discussion under Articles 55 and 56 in view of the overriding application of Article 2 paragraph 7 concerning domestic jurisdiction. He expressed his disappointment that the U.S. had supported so-called “moderate” resolutions on these items last year,3 but did not press this point. He felt that Krishna Menon had led other delegations “down the garden path” in his formulation of the resolutions which—whatever their wording—still had sting in them of intervening in South African domestic affairs.

Mr. Louw planned to devote his entire speech in the general debate to Africa with a view to developing the attitude of his government in respect to this continent. He felt that independence was coming too rapidly in parts of Africa, where the masses were still primitive, and that the Union’s policy of developing self-government for its Africans in due course should be explained. He emphasized the fact that unlike other European territories in Africa, the white population in the Union was permanent. His own roots went back 250 to 300 years, and neither the Europeans of Dutch or British ancestry had any [Page 737] real affinity with any other country. He thought, moreover, that full equity for the natives in the Union would not only swamp the Europeans but it would be bad for the West as a whole to have the southern tip of Africa under a native proletariat control. He referred to the fact that the African National Congress, although not banned in his country, was under communist domination. Mr. Louw described as “unbelievable” the press distortions in the U.S., U.K., and especially Sweden concerning the true conditions in the Union of South Africa.

With respect to South West Africa, Mr. Louw reaffirmed his Government’s position that the League “died without leaving a testament” and that the UN therefore had no authority with respect to this territory. Noting that he probably was the only head of delegation who had served in both the League of Nations and the United Nations, Mr. Louw said that the treatment of this problem by the League was entirely different from that of the UN, especially with respect to the hearing of oral evidence. He then went on to complain of the assistance of the United States Consul General in Salisbury in giving Mr. Beukas,4 a native of South West Africa, a visa and travel documentation for the purpose of giving oral testimony at the UN. Beukas had been condemned by his father and the elders of his tribe for undertaking this trip. Mr. Louw said that a visa presupposed a passport and he repeated his complaint about giving Beukas a visa.

The Secretary pointed out that under the U.S. agreement with the UN, the Department had no alternative but to issue a visa to anyone who had obtained an invitation from the UN to appear before the UN. He could understand how various governments might not always be pleased with this procedure. If there was any remedy, however, it was to persuade the UN to be more discriminating in its invitations.

Mr. Louw concluded the above conversation, which was almost entirely a monologue on his part, with his appreciation for this opportunity to talk with the Secretary.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Drafted by Fred Hadsel of the Bureau of African Affairs.
  2. The conversation took place at the Secretary’s suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; he was in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
  3. The Conference on Antarctica, which opened on October 15, negotiated the Antarctic Treaty, signed on December 1; for text, see 12 UST 794.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 336. Resolution 1302 (XIII), adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1958, appealed to South Africa to enter into negotiations with India and Pakistan on the question of the treatment of people of Indian origin in South Africa; for text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, p. 1099.
  5. Hans J. Beukas, a South West African student whose passport had been withdrawn, appeared before the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee in October. Resolution 1358 (XIV), adopted by the General Assembly on November 17, 1959, declared the withdrawal of his passport to be contrary to the Mandate for South West Africa.