411. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

143841. Subj: Committee of 24—VM’s to US NSGT’s. Ref: USUN’s 4051.2

Dept has carefully reviewed question of receiving Comite of 24 Visiting Missions to US Non-Self-Governing Territories, and concludes as last year (CA 9790, April 1, 1966)3 that US should not receive VM’s. FYI. Decision based on following considerations:
UN Charter does not obligate US to admit VM’s to our NSGT’s. US regularly submits information to UN on developments in US NSGT’s, including information on political developments. US territories part of open society and therefore, there little additional relevant information which Comite might develop which not already available in press and public proceedings of US and territorial legislatures.
Past performance of Comite of 24 provides no reason to believe Comite would submit objective report. Rather some members can be expected to use occasion to reiterate dogmatic views already expressed towards traditional colonial situations.
Reception of UN VM in US territories would provoke considerable criticism both in the islands and in US. Islands are inhabited by US citizens or nationals, and despite designation as non-self-governing territories, Guam and the Virgin Islands are already largely self-governing. Removal of last major obstacle to internal self-government for Guam and the Virgin Islands, through election of governors, can be expected in near future. In addition, Samoa legislature has just completed review of its governmental machinery.
Question of VM’s to US territories must be viewed in context their effect on policy of US allies. Forthcoming Quadripartite Talks on Pacific Islands expected discuss, among other topics, question of VM’s.
Even if US could hope for relatively favorable reports, particularly on American Samoa and the Virgin Islands, acceptance of VM’s would probably have unhelpful effect of leading to more detailed [Page 891] Comite of 24 consideration of US territories than we anticipate in case of refusal. End FYI.
After discussing US position with UK, Australian and New Zealand missions, believe USDel should inform Comite of 24 Chairman Malecela that US not prepared to receive VM’s to US territories. In doing so, the delegation should point out US submits complete information on US NSGT’s and that US reports combined with public information freely available to Comite, including free press and proceedings of popularly elected legislatures, provide full picture on developments.
USDel may add that while US not prepared to receive VM’s as such, USG and Governments of the territories ready to extend official courtesies to individual UN Reps who may wish to visit US territories, subject, of course, to applicable travel regulations.
If necessary USDel may reiterate to whole Comite points in paras 2 and 3.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 9 UN. Secret. Drafted by Jones; cleared in EA, H, L, ARA, UNP, EUR, and the Department of the Interior; and approved by Popper. Repeated to London, Wellington, and Canberra.
  2. Dated February 18; it provided an analysis of meetings of the Committee of 24. (Ibid.)
  3. Not printed. (Ibid., POL 19 UN)