587. Memorandum From William H. Brubeck of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson1

Attached is proposed US position for UN Security Council debate and resolution later this month on South Africa.

Key points we will support—

Appeal for clemency in South African sabotage trials against nationalist leaders.
Security Council committee study of possible economic sanctions against South Africa (but making clear no US pre-commitment on sanctions).

Essentially, there are just minimum concessions we think must be made to African pressures in order to win Security Council vote; our immediate [Page 987] purpose is to buy time pending next year’s World Court decision on South Africa’s mandate policy in South West Africa, and this should do it.







  • Security Council Meeting on Apartheid

The United Nations Security Council will probably be called into session by the African states about mid-May to consider again the problem of apartheid. Continuing failure of the Government of South Africa to mitigate its discriminatory racial policies, the trials of leading African nationalists and the completion of recommendations on next steps by a UN expert study group will lend impetus to demands for more far-reaching UN action against South Africa.

We expect the Council to focus on four major subjects: (1) the trials in South Africa of several hundred people in the past year under various South African security laws; (2) a multi-racial conference involving the UN in South Africa on the country’s future; (3) establishment of a committee to study sanctions; and (4) the imposition of sanctions on South Africa in the event the first two subjects are not satisfactorily settled.

Our objectives in the meeting will be to maintain our posture of opposing apartheid without going so far as to invite a rupture of our ties with South Africa and to defer a substantive decision on the imposition of economic sanctions until close to the time (1965) when the International Court of Justice hands down its ruling on South Africa’s conduct of its mandate in South West Africa.

[Page 988]

To maintain the credibility of our anti-apartheid position, to avoid being faced with a vote on a resolution which we could not support, and to demonstrate our continuing concern about the need for movement by the South African Government, we plan to take an active lead in seeking support for a resolution containing the following major elements:

an appeal to South Africa to end arrests and detentions without charges and without trials, to exercise clemency in the trials of African leaders, and to grant amnesty to political prisoners who have not been guilty of common crimes;
provision for UN-sponsored educational and training programs for South Africa;
establishment of a committee of all Security Council members to make a broad study of sanctions, including those cited in the report of the UN Expert Study Group; however, we would make clear our support for such a study does not commit us to implement sanctions at some future date; and
endorsement of the need for a multi-racial dialogue in South Africa.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of McGeorge Bundy, “B.” Confidential.
  2. McGeorge Bundy initialed below Brubeck’s signature.
  3. This option is checked.