54. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in South Africa and the United Kingdom and the Mission to the United Nations1

174301. Subj: South West Africa.

Clifford J. Hynning, Washington attorney for South African Government initiated meeting on South West Africa with Asst. Secty Newsom September 20. Hynning explained he had, after some delay received authority from SAG to discuss subject with Department.
Stating SAG wished find way out this issue he said he sought determine what kind approach might be acceptable to USG. He indicated SAG willing consider “over time”: A) withdrawal application to SWA Terrorism Act and possibly other similar legislation; B) independence for Ovambaland; C) new codification laws and regulations under international commission; D) resumption of reporting to UN. He noted that UK and France less ready than U.S. accept ICJ decision;2 he felt such decision held real dangers for U.S. and our position should be similarly cautious. SAG prepared endeavor meet legal concerns of Western nations if this likely to be helpful in reducing pressures to more dramatic solutions.
In response Newsom said he welcomed chance discuss issue. U.S. interested in seeing acceptable solution if this possible. Obviously matter complex one and even definition of issues involved sometimes difficult. He suggested session be devoted seeking define existing concerns of various parties involved, after which it might be easier determine whether meaningful steps possible. Further meeting might take place after Secretary had seen Foreign Minister Muller. Hynning agreed.
In response Newsom suggested would be useful see if U.S. clearly understood SAG concerns this issue which he presumed to be: A) security of its own territory; B) continued control economic resources, including uranium; and C) desire prevent development social or political system in SWA incompatible with that in Republic. Hynning agreed, but said security is less of consideration than economics.
Newsom then said to understand U.S. position it was essential recognize four areas of our concern: A) our domestic opinion which, while not fully crystallized on this issue, reacted against what it considered repression, injustice or discrimination elsewhere, particularly in racial matters; B) our responsibilities to UN; C) our concern over international law and support for ICJ; and D) our relations with Africa. Hynning asked how (D) differed from (C). Newsom explained our bilateral relations with Africa, as distinct from our relations in UN context, are affected by our stand on Southern African issues. Commenting on Hynning’s initial presentation, Newsom said in his opinion actions which embraced only Europeans and South Africans would not be helpful; UN and African participation in ultimate resolution essential.
In subsequent discussion:
Hynning described South Africa’s thinking on plebiscite3 as providing a choice between: 1) continued administration by South Africa; 2) administration by UN; 3) independence. SAG was prepared have international observers and to open plebiscite to all persons of SWA origin, including those banned and in exile. Hynning added that present SAG Ambassador to Washington Botha had made survey of SWA for SAG before SAG brief to ICJ and had concluded SAG would win plebiscite.SAG would require two years to prepare for plebiscite since not all peoples of territory ready now.
Hynning said SWAPO not banned organization and participation SWAPO in plebiscite not ruled out.
According Hynning, SAG would be willing invite SYG visit SA for discussion SWA issue; he had been previously invited but had declined come. Any discussion with an OAU mission as such, however, would be politically impossible. But he did not rule out possibility Africans accompanying SYG.
Hynning emphasized any solution must start with premise SA still has mandate authority. SAG has not ceased consider SWA international territory. Newsom pointed out this would be difficult after UNGA and ICJ actions. Majority of nations in UN would probably take position only issue to be discussed would be transfer of authority—over whatever period—on assumption mandate ended.
Hynning expressed difficulty in understanding why U.S. failed give greater weight to SA’s role as ally in two world wars, anti-Communist state, and significant Western presence in strategic area, particularly when we appeared take more tolerant view Communist states. Newsom said USG not unaware those elements and desired [Page 141] friendly relations with SA, but great significance of factor of race in international as well as domestic arena could not be ignored.4


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 SW AFR. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Newsom; cleared in L and IO; and approved by Newsom.
  2. On June 21, the International Court of Justice delivered its advisory opinion that the Mandate was terminated and South Africa’s presence in Namibia was illegal. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1971, pp. 581–586.
  3. See Document 46.
  4. The telegram is unsigned.