293. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

SUBJECT

  • Committee of 24 Consideration of United States Territories

Enclosed for your information is a copy of United Nations Resolution 1970 (XVIII) of December 16, 19632 which will affect United Nations activities regarding non-self-governing territories including the United States possessions of Guam, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. By [Page 630]this resolution the General Assembly dissolved the United Nations Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, on which the United States has served as an administering authority, and transferred the principal functions of that Committee to the United Nations Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, generally referred to as the Committee of 24.

The Committee of 24 will probably undertake its initial consideration of United States non-self-governing territories within the next few weeks.

By Article 73 e of the United Nations Charter, the United States agreed to transmit information to the United Nations on our non-self-governing territories. Since the beginning of the United Nations the United States has transmitted such information to the Secretary-General and cooperated throughout its existence with the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, which was established by the General Assembly to review these data.

The Committee of 24 is much different in composition and emphasis from the Committee on Information. Its membership is weighted heavily in favor of the Afro-Asians, and Soviet Bloc, in contrast to the balanced composition of the Committee on Information, and its basic thrust thus far has been rapid independence for dependent areas. While the Committee of 24 has on a number of occasions taken unrealistic and unwise actions, it should be noted that the issues involved (e.g., Portuguese Territories, South West Africa, Aden) have been mainly those having high emotional and political content for the Afro-Asians and involving disputes between the metropoles and important elements of the indigenous peoples in the territory. We, of course, have no such problem in the United States territories, and the Committee’s approach to our territories may pose no difficulties for us. However, we do not know yet how the Committee will approach the subject of our territories and believe it desirable to inform you of the Committee’s upcoming discussions in case problems arise.

The United States objective regarding our territories in the Committee is to prevent or minimize any harmful or embarrassing Committee action (e.g., call for Committee Visiting Mission to U.S. territories, criticism of fact U.S. territorial governors are not elected). We believe the best way to achieve our objective is by making an effective presentation of the United States accomplishments of territorial administration as we successfully did in the more favorably composed Committee on Information. The Departments of State and [Page 631]the Interior are now preparing these presentations and undertaking appropriate Congressional consultations.

Benjamin H. Read 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Miscellaneous. Confidential.
  2. Not attached to the source text; for text, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1963, p. 438.
  3. J.W. Davis signed for Reed.