231. Airgram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1



  • Private Meeting of SC to Recommend the Appointment of a Secretary General

The UN Security Council held its 1026th meeting at 11:00 Friday, November 30. Since no official records are kept of private SC meetings, the following is transmitted for information and Department records.

The President of the Council for November, Mahmoud Riad of the UAR declared that under Rule 48 of the SC Provisional Rules of Procedure the meeting would be held in private and that the requirement for consecutive translation would be dispensed with.

After exchanging compliments with Amb Zorin on the latter’s conduct as October’s SC President (this being the first—and only—meeting in November), Riad ascertained that there was no objection to the adoption of the agenda. He then called attention to the draft resolution sponsored by Chile, Ghana, Ireland, Romania, United Arab Republic, Venezuela which reads as follows: “The Security Council, having considered the question of the appointment of the Secretary General of the United Nations, in accordance with Article 97 of the Charter, recommends to the General Assembly to appoint U Thant as Secretary General of the United Nations for a term expiring on November 3, 1966.” There followed a lengthy dissertation on the parliamentary situation with regard to the election of Secretaries General. Riad noted that the Council was acting under Article 97 of the Charter, the text of which he read. He then cited the General Assembly Resolution deciding to fix the term of the Secretary General at five years and the resolution of November 3, 1961 appointing U Thant Acting Secretary General to fill out the unexpired term of the late Dag Hammarskjold extending until April 10, 1963.

The import of Riad’s remarks was to convey the idea that the power to deal with the term of office of the Secretary General resided in the General Assembly.

Having completed his introductory remarks Riad then called on the members in the order in which they had inscribed starting with Ghana, [Page 508] Venezuela and Chile all of whom made pro forma speeches in favor of Thant’s election.

The next speaker was Professor Haseganu of Romania who observed, among other things, that the entire structure of the United Nations must in due course reflect the major transformations which had taken place in the world over the past 17 years and specifically that the Secretariat must in time give full recognition to the “principle of equal representation” among the three groups of states in the world. Meanwhile Professor Haseganu assured the Council that Romania had only the highest regard for U Thant and would vote in favor of the draft resolution.

Mr. Tadgh O’Sullivan of Ireland then spoke in place of Ambassador Boland who was, O’Sullivan said somewhat unconvincingly, absent because he thought the meeting would be held in the afternoon.

Ambassador Stevenson spoke next. The text of his speech is appended as an annex.2

Ambassador Seydoux then spoke followed by Sir Patrick Dean of the UK who loyally associated himself with the reservation entered by Ambassador Stevenson as to the propriety of the SC expressing itself on the question of the term of office of the Secretary General. Sir Patrick said, “. . . while the Security Council may wish to recommend a specific term it is for the General Assembly to determine the length of that term.”

The next speaker was Ambassador Zorin of the USSR who recalled turgidly the well-known Soviet position on the proper constitution of the organs of the UN, as stated by Chairman Khrushchev at the 15th GA and by other Soviet speakers thereafter. To leave no one in any doubt as to his drift, Zorin stated that the USSR favored entrusting the direction of the Secretariat to three individuals. He said the USSR would continue to strive for the arrangement as being the only one consonant with reality. But in the meantime, the USSR was prepared to support the election of U Thant, taking into account the good job he had done in the preceding year, and especially the “positive action” he had taken to meet the “dangerous crisis in the Caribbean.” Thant, Zorin said, had demonstrated his ability, in this and other crises, to take into account the legitimate interests of the main groups of states. Hence, the USSR had been prepared to support Thant’s election to a full five year term but was willing to support the draft resolution which recommended a shorter term.

Ambassador Liu of China then spoke followed by President Riad of the UAR who praised Thant in glowing terms including more than perfunctory references to the UAR’s friendship with Thant’s homeland, Burma.

[Page 509]

The meeting ended with an elaborate and lengthy minuet wherein Riad requested the Under Secretary Kiselev of the USSR, first to read the draft communiqué. This Kiselev did in fluent, Cairo-accented English. The communiqué was then solemnly assented to by the Council. At Riad’s request Kiselev then read for the Council’s approval the text of a letter notifying GA President Zafrulla Khan of the Council’s action. The Council assented and Riad signed. Finally came a letter to U Thant, read by Kiselev, assented to by the Council and signed by Riad.

The meeting ended at around 12:15 p.m.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1960–63, 330/12–562. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Franklin L. Mewshaw and cleared by Richard F. Pedersen.
  2. Not printed.