318. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

1937. Re: Article 19.

Early this morning Stevenson called SYG to suggest that SYG have meeting today in his office including US, USSR, UK, France, Sosa (Venezuela) and Quaison-Sackey (Ghana) to try to reach final agreement before GA opened. SYG agreed and called meeting at noon, SYG adding chairmen LA and Afro-Asian Groups.
Prior to meeting we drafted statements for possible use by SYG and Pres in which SYG would refer to consultations he had undertaken on crisis and their continuation and Sosa would then suggest GA start its work “on such basis that no voting would be involved.”
When meeting convened SYG noted he had been consulting members with “sole motive” of avoiding confrontation and asked for this meeting to discuss conduct of opening session. Stated that USSR yesterday had proposed fol procedures to avoid confrontation and facilitate negots outside chamber: GA would meet as scheduled, Pres would be elected and new members admitted by acclamation or without opposition; General Debate would subsequently proceed as scheduled; USSR would then discuss future business with colleagues, including Vice-Preses, chairmen of Comites, elections to Councils, and budget.
Stevenson then said that as presented by SYG Sov position was not satisfactory. There must be no voting until such time as agreement was worked out. Otherwise Art 19 could arise at any minute. If there were agreement on no voting and SYG said so something along suggested lines might be all right. But it would have to be explicitly clear there would be no other business and no votes taken.
Caradon (UK) said purpose of meeting was to avoid confrontation and we must not fail. As he understood position shared objective of those in room was that we go through period of no vote so we could find solution. Issue was how this was to be stated. Public impression was very important and we must act openly and not risk dangers of misunderstanding.
SYG then said he thought positions were very close. It was now question of formulations and procedures. With spirit of give and take he thought we could reach agreement.
Stevenson then read draft statements he thought SYG and Pres might make, which would refer to continuation of consultations and to GA proceeding on such basis that no voting would be involved.
SYG said that in principle he was prepared to make such statement if it acceptable to all. He had had impression Gromyko would prefer that Pres make any statement.
Sosa noted proposal on no voting meant waiving of rules. Believed this should be raised by SYG, not by outgoing Pres. He would then put issue to Assembly to obtain Assembly’s concurrence.
Fedorenko (USSR) said SYG had expressed main Sov points in clear terms. He wished to stress that USSR’s only idea was and is to have clear understanding among ourselves. It would then be satisfactory to open session as described by SYG and elect Pres by acclamation; then to admit new members in same way. If some states wished to make statements there would be no objection but there would be no controversial aspects for today’s work of GA. GA would then proceed with General Debate. No other steps would be taken until consultations were completed. He noted Gromyko and Rusk intended to have further talks. Beyond this there was no necessity to take up other aspects now, especially those of interest to one side. When meeting was ended we should [Page 692] tell other members of GA what we have agreed. No special statement by SYG was needed. This would be one-sided. We should simply go ahead with this understanding as there was no real problem now involved. Statement would be a “precondition” to further work of session, and this would not be right.
Seydoux (France) said it would be difficult to postpone opening of GA further. GA would lose prestige and it would be shock to public opinion. He thought confrontation should be avoided. But election of new Pres and admission of new members could be accomplished today. Position of future would be reserved. Perhaps a suspension of GA should follow this afternoon’s session for several days during which consultations would continue.
Sosa said if no agreement reached on procedure it might be wise to adjourn as Seydoux had suggested. GA could be adjourned either after election of Pres and admission new members or before these two items.
Stevenson said he understood Fedorenko as suggesting we go ahead with General Debate, while Seydoux suggested recess. Noted GA rules required election of new Pres to be without nomination and by secret ballot. Election without objection would therefore require waiving of rules. If there was agreement we could proceed on all these items without voting we could agree, but there needed to be explicit understanding on basis of which we could proceed. He failed to understand Fedorenko’s view that statement on non-voting would complicate matters. We needed to have precise understanding on procedure under which controversial business would be avoided and we would proceed without objection. On Seydoux’s suggestion of recess US had no firm views.
Quaison-Sackey (Ghana) said he wished make appeal. There was nothing fundamentally different between views of US and USSR. One wanted statement; one did not. He stated everyone knew about discussions which had taken place and about today’s meeting. He therefore thought some kind of statement was called for so that GA would know we were not following normal procedure. Statement of SYG might avoid word voting but get same meaning with other suitable language. He did not favor further suspension of GA procedures.
Vidaurre (Dominican Republic) stated LA group would have no objection to SYG’s proposal and appealed to all to agree to it.
Bouattoura (Algeria) agreed with Quaison-Sackey that we were close to agreement. Question was how to express this to membership. Quaison-Sackey’s proposal was a good way and he was sure SYG could do this. Problem was how to proceed with GA work without disturbing consultations going on outside. We should go ahead into General Debate with understanding no voting should take place. Consultations would continue with parties concerned, following which GA could follow [Page 693] its normal procedure. But GA should be convened. Two postponements had already been a blow and further postponement would be another.
Fedorenko then asked questions about Credentials Comite, to which we had referred in our statement. Stated he understood this was appointed by Pres. Sosa said Credentials Comite in fact had to be confirmed by GA but that there had never been vote on confirmation.
SYG said that it might be useful for him to make short statement as suggested by Quaison-Sackey, avoiding contentious phraseology, to explain why new procedure adopted.
Fedorenko stated he wished members to understand that anything beyond what SYG had suggested at start of meeting must be studied by his Del. He must see text of any statement that SYG would make and decision on it would be “in competence of Chief of our Del.”
SYG then produced one-sentence statement to effect that there was “an understanding” that controversial issues would be avoided while consultations were taking place. Plimpton suggested this might be modified to add something like “issues other than those which can be unanimously agreed upon.”
Fedorenko stressed again that USSR had to study anything new. SYG said he could have draft available by 2:30 PM. Fedorenko said the sooner the better. SYG then said he would have revised sentence available in five minutes. Short discussion on scenario of opening moments of GA followed, after which Narasimhan (UN) distributed revised text as fols: “There is an understanding to the effect that issues other than those that can be disposed of without objection will not be raised while the General Debate proceeds.” SYG suggested meeting reconvene at 2:45 for 15 minutes. In meantime he would draft rest of statement.
Stevenson asked whether SYG’s sentence was intended to be applied to procedural questions as well as to substantive items on agenda. Noted procedural question might arise at any time without notice and precipitate issue in spite of intention of agreement. He assumed Chair could handle such issues without vote. SYG said his statement was definitely applicable to procedural problems as well and Quaison-Sackey indicated he would handle them in accordance with the statement. Fedorenko added that if anyone who did not understand situation should try to raise such problem he was sure Chair could handle it.
Meeting reconvened at 2:45 at which time SYG distributed full statement contained USUN 1938.2 Only change in key sentence, as Dept will note, is substitution of “while General Debate going on” for “while [Page 694] consultations take place”. Fedorenko had draft copy of SYG’s full draft statement when he walked into room with several ink changes on it. When meeting started SYG said last minute corrections had been made and statement would be distributed shortly. Thus it appeared Fedorenko had already seen and agreed to full statement. Comment: It was interesting that Shukodrov (Gromyko’s interpreter) joined Fedorenko, Morozov and Fedoseev in afternoon meeting, while only latter three were present in morning.
In response SYG’s request for views Fedorenko promptly said Sov position was that it would be best if there were no statement. If there had to be one USSR had “no objection to this text.”
Stevenson said he understood opening day procedure under statement would be on these lines: After SYG’s statement Sosa would say, “I assume there is no objection and we can proceed on these lines; there being no objection it is so decided.” Appointment Credentials Comite, election of Pres, and admission of new members would then be accomplished on no objection basis. On this understanding he agreed to draft statement. SYG and Sosa both said this was correct understanding of procedure. SYG then distributed short statement for Sosa under which he would say if there were no objections it was so decided. Fedorenko said that if others agreed to this statement USSR had no objections.
Seydoux said that if understanding involved budget and elections to Councils he would have reservations, but if statement was agreed around table he would be reluctant to oppose it for today’s procedures. SYG said he took it from Seydoux’s comments that he had reservations but was not objecting. Meeting then adjourned.
US participants in meetings were Stevenson, Plimpton, Yost and Pedersen.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, UN 10–4. Confidential. Drafted by Richard Pedersen on December 1.
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Subject Files, Reel 142, Frame 9)