623. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Ball) to President Johnson1


  • South West Africa

You will recall that at the National Security Council meeting on July 14, we had a full discussion regarding the ICJ decision on South West Africa, and based on the assumption that the Court would rule against South Africa, it was agreed that a special Task Force should do a priority study and make recommendations regarding the U.S. position. Circumstances, of course, have changed by the unexpected nature of the Court’s judgment.2 Therefore, the priorities that we had in mind at the July 14 meeting have been somewhat altered.

In the first instance, we will have to develop quickly our overall strategy and tactics for handling this matter either at the annual General Assembly in September, or at a special session of the Assembly or in the Security Council meeting which may be called sometime before then. This we will do through normal channels in concert with Ambassador Goldberg.

The Court’s decision, of course, does not alter the need for a fundamental review of our contingency planning since a number of the questions confronting us are much the same regardless of the fact that the Court refused to rule on the merits of the case. Our Interdepartmental Regional Group on Africa offers an appropriate forum and its members have already been asked to undertake such a review.

Assistant Secretaries Palmer and Sisco will concert in the handling of follow-up to the Court’s judgment both inside and outside the UN.

George W. Ball
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Africa, Union of South, Vol. II, Memos and Miscellaneous, 11/64–9/66. Secret.
  2. On July 18, the International Court of Justice rejected the Ethiopian/Liberian complaint against South Africa on the technical ground that Ethiopia and Liberia had not established “any legal right or interest in the subject matter of their claims.” On July 27, the Department of State issued a press release stating that the United States considered that the July 18 judgment in no way diminished the legal authority of earlier ICJ advisory opinions on South West Africa. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, August 15, 1966, p. 231.