592. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Cleveland) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Security Council Adopts Resolution on Apartheid

Early this afternoon, the Security Council adopted by a vote of 8–0–3 (USSR, Czechoslovakia, France) the Norwegian/Bolivian resolution on apartheid in South Africa (Tab A).2

Particularly noteworthy was the affirmative vote of the United Kingdom. Although the British had continued to be unwilling to work openly for the resolution’s adoption, their position changed from a reluctant abstention to a guarded endorsement of the resolution. In addition, the British for the first time agreed to participate in the sanctions study committee. I believe our talks with them last week—on which I have reported to you—contributed substantially to allaying British fears by convincing them that (a) a study committee was a useful time-consuming device; (b) we would seek to assure that the committee’s work was serious and constructive; and (c) that UK participation would help assure a responsible approach by the committee.

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The African members of the Council (Morocco and the Ivory Coast), while supporting the resolution, expressed disappointment that it did not include sanctions. I consider this was a sop to the more radical segments of African opinion who had played a very tough negotiating game throughout the proceedings. In the last analysis, however, they all recognized the art of the possible and apparently considered that even this modest step is a net gain in their war on apartheid. Creation of the committee, however, is admittedly a far cry from the recommendations of the Expert Study Group which called for the application of sanctions against South Africa if the South Africa Government refused to respond satisfactorily “by an early date” to a Security Council invitation to discuss the formation of a National Convention of all races of South Africa.

The Communist powers, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, explained their abstentions on the ground that the resolution was too weak and that it did not invoke sanctions against South Africa. They blamed this alleged deficiency on the U.S., the U.K., and France. The France explained their abstention by their opposition to UN intervention into the internal affairs of a member state.

On balance, I think we came out very well in this exercise. We were able to maintain every essential aspect of the position you approved following your discussion with Governor Stevenson last April. The main carrot in this position, the sanctions study committee, may well prove of considerable utility by introducing a new note of realism into calls for sanctions in colonial and racial situations. Of course, the concept of the sanctions study committee was hedged in by appropriate reservations, both on our part (first paragraph on page 4 of Governor Stevenson’s speech at Tab B)3 and that of the British and Norwegians to the effect that support for the study committee was without prejudice to our ultimate position on the application of sanctions.

The next item on the agenda is to organize ourselves and our friends on the Security Council to turn the sanctions study committee to useful ends, along the lines of the US–UK agreed paper (Tab C).4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, SOC 14–1 S AFR/UN. Confidential. Drafted by Director of the Office of UN Affairs William B. Buffum and Hennes.
  2. For text of Security Council Resolution 191 (1964), June 18, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents 1964, pp. 802–804.
  3. For text of Ambassador Stevenson’s statement in the Security Council on June 16, see ibid., pp. 798–802.
  4. Not printed.