603. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in South Africa1

114. Ref: Deptel 74 to Cape Town.2 US and UK agreed at London Africa talks March 23 desirable both countries make early confidential approaches to SAG about ramifications SWA problem after ICJ judgment. Aim would be continuing discussion with appropriate levels in [Page 1023] SAG, if possible, to keep fully advised SAG thinking and to encourage contingency planning by SAG for response following judgment which will avoid UN-SAG confrontation and facilities accommodation. British initially anticipated difficulties beginning discussions now but subsequently concluded current SAG efforts in London to discuss sanctions questions with UK officials might provide basis for broader talks to include consequences of ICJ judgment.

Embassy Cape Town should discuss soonest with British Embassy timing, level of approach, and content of these first representations. US should then begin dialogue with Foreign Minister Muller. If UK Embassy not prepared to make own representations within reasonable time of your first talk with Muller or if there substantial disagreement on content, Embassy should request further instructions.

In Dept view commencement of dialogue should be low key, such as incidental to call on Foreign Minister concerning some other matter or informal exchange of views on possible nature of judgment and of choices available to parties to case and to UN after judgment.

Developments of past year in South Africa, in US and in US relations in Africa and elsewhere emphasize it essential we make clear US policy with respect South Africa under administration President Johnson continues be one of firm support for rule of law and racial justice. There has been no softening on these fundamental issues. Significance growing and articulate interest American public, particularly churches, trade unions, students and, above all, civil rights groups in South African situation and ICJ case may not be realistically appreciated by SAG. Based on reports of American visitors to South Africa, probing pressures by SAG on such items as Ford boycott, and conversations with SAG representatives in US and elsewhere, there is reason believe SAG may be operating on mistaken premises that USG softening its policy. This is not so. Both UK Ambassador and SAG Fonoff should understand USG desires dialogue because in its view SA course respecting ICJ judgment can have most importance consequences for SA position in world and USG policies toward SA.

Initial talks should cover at least following six points:

US believes it would be useful to initiate conversations with SAG on problems which may arise as result of ICJ decision whatever its substance. USG regards these as logical follow-up to representations made in Spring 1963 and as extension continuing frank exchanges on matters mutual concern. US appreciative of spirit in which past conversations, including those in Spring 1964, received by SAG.
US interest in subject stems from policy of support for rule of law and authority of ICJ and its participation in UN which is bound to be seized of various aspects of South West African problem, as well as USG constant desire for peaceful disposition of SWA issues.
USG would welcome views of SAG on shape it thinks ICJ decision might take.
Without wishing to prejudge outcome of Court case USG believes it would be prudent to discuss all contingencies including those ICJ rulings and UN responses which might be most unsatisfactory from SAG point of view.
US would welcome opportunity to continue conversations on this subject from time to time as desirable.
Should ICJ judgment follow 1950 advisory opinion that SWA still under Mandate, that SAG still subject to Mandate and Article 22 of Covenant, and that UNGA has succeeded to League’s supervisory functions, prompt declaration by SAG of readiness to comply, and action by SAG evidencing intention to respect judgment, for example by sending annual report and negotiating appropriate supervisory machinery to give effect to judgment, could forestall precipitate UN action. Such an approach essential to counter efforts in GA to terminate Mandate or pressure for SC action under Article 94.
As to apartheid, even if judgment rules certain practices incompatible with Mandate obligations, we would hope SAG would not react negatively, and would take time consider all implications and advantages maintaining its traditional attitude of respect for ICJ and the law. Rejection of judgment on racial matters would create major complications jeopardizing any prospect for moderate solution of SWA problem.

Embassy may wish to cover point 7 in subsequent conversation because of SA sensitivity and possibility judgment may be less clear about apartheid.

In London talks UK expressed view that SAG might prefer give up Mandate rather than submit to international supervision, provided territory demilitarized. Dept believes talks should proceed on assumption SAG wishes to retain Mandate but Embassy should note any indication of SAG consideration of relinquishing Mandate rather than submit to international supervision.

Following Embassy report of opening talks Cape Town Dept will arrange similar conversations with Ambassador Taswell whose first meeting with Secretary still pending and unscheduled. N.B. London’s 4939 to the Dept3 indicates UK Emb Cape Town has already been instructed make similar approach to SAG.

For Embassy London: Advise Fonoff and report reaction to Dept and Cape Town.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 19 SW AFR. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Campbell and Kriebel; cleared by Hooper, Assistant Legal Adviser for United Nations Affairs Stephen M. Schwebel, Sisco, Buffum, MacKnight, Deputy Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs Frank D. Taylor, Runyon, Fredericks, and Komer at the White House; and approved by Williams. Sent to Cape Town and London, and repeated to Pretoria, Paris, Rome, USUN, Bonn, Ottawa, Tokyo, The Hague, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo by pouch.
  2. Telegram 74 to Cape Town, March 4, expressed the Department’s belief that the United States and the United Kingdom should initiate and carry on a dialogue about the South West Africa problem with the South African Foreign Office during the months remaining before the ICJ judgment. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated April 9. (Ibid.)