355. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Bohlen) to Secretary of State Herter0


  • Telephone conversations with Senator Morse1

Senator Morse called me from New York at about 12:30 to ask for a change in the voting instructions in regard to the Resolution before Committee IV involving the recommendation for the despatch of the Committee on Southwest Africa to go to Southwest Africa on a Committee of Inquiry.2 Senator Morse said that they had worked very hard to have certain parts of the original Ghanaian Resolution modified and he felt it would be very detrimental to the U.S. standing, therefore, to abstain on the Resolution as a whole. He said the Italian Delegation had suggested a procedure which they intended to follow and which Senator Mores hoped we could do likewise. This would involve voting on operative paragraph 3 of the Resolution3 — the one providing for the Committee to go to Southwest Africa first—on which vote the U.S. would abstain. If, as was expected, however, this paragraph still carried, the U.S., after having made its position plain on the Committee by abstention, would then vote in favor of the Resolution. I told the Senator we would look into this matter and I would call him back.

After discussion with the Staff of IO and other interested Officers of the Department, I called Senator Morse back and said that we did not see how we could vote in favor of the Resolution quite apart from the Committee paragraph because of its very extreme text. I also pointed out to him that in terms of references, the Committee seemed [Page 761] to go beyond the requirements of Class “C” mandate which the ICJ had specifically certified as being the only international agreement binding on the Union of South Africa in this respect.4 Senator Morse pointed out that the language in paragraph 2 condemning the Union of South Africa had been changed to disapproval. He further questioned the legal interpretation of the Department of State in regard to the problem of the mandate. I told him that in view of the change in language to which he referred which we had not known about, we would have a further look at the matter. However, on further examination, it was the general consensus in the Department that we could not support the precedent of attempting to send a Committee to a country against that country’s wishes, nor could we, as the language indicated, go beyond the requirements of the mandate.

At three o’clock, Senator Morse telephoned me and I told him that our final decision was to abide by the original instructions and abstain on the whole Resolution. Senator Morse said he would accept the decision but wishes to state that “we were making one of the greatest mistakes” that we had ever made in the UN and that we would have a bad time, not only in Committee IV, but again when this matter came to the floor of the Assembly. I told him we had carefully considered all the factors involved, but we felt that we would be in worse shape after we voted for a Resolution with which we disagreed on so many points.

In the meantime, following Senator Morse’s first call, Mr. Wallner called up Ambassador Wadsworth who confirmed his support of Senator Morse’s opinion, but said, of course, they would abide by our instructions.5

  1. Source: Department of State, UNP Files: Lot 65 D 379, South West Africa. Official Use Only.
  2. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the 15th Session of the U.N. General Assembly.
  3. Reference is to an 11-power draft resolution, a revised version of a draft resolution proposed on November 24 by Guinea, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Togo, and Tunisia; see U.N. docs. A/C.4/L.653 and A/C.4/L.653/Rev.1 and Rev.2.
  4. Operative paragraph 4 of the final resolution.
  5. In an advisory opinion of July 11, 1950; International Status of South-West Africa, I.C.J. Reports (1950) 128. The term “Class “C” mandate” refers to the classification of mandated territories in Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant; the text is in 2 Bevans 55.
  6. The draft resolution was approved by the Fourth Committee on December 6. In separate votes on the operative paragraphs, the United States voted in favor of all except operative paragraph 4, on which it abstained. The resolution was approved by a vote of 65 to 0, with 15 abstentions, including the United States, and was adopted by the General Assembly on December 18 as Resolution 1568 (XV) by a vote of 78 to 0, with 15 abstentions, including the United States. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, pp. 642–643.