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Department of State bulletin (Volume v. 22, Apr- Jun 1950) online

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in the opening sessions made only passing refer-
ence, if any, to the prol)UMn of the former Italian


The First Committee (Political and Security)
began to consider the question on Seijfember 150,
1949. It agreed that Italy, which had again asked
to have her representative take i)art in the dis-
cussion, should be gianted the same privilege as
before." The Chairman, Lester Peai-son, Minister
of External Affairs for Canada, submitted a draft
resolution ju'oposing that a new subcommittee
should consider:

1. Eequests emanating from political organiza-
tions or parties on which a repoit was not made by
Subconnnittee 14 during the second part of the
third regidar session; and

2. Requests on which the above Subcommittee
has already reported, if new material has been
submitted by the organizations or parties in

The new subcommittee, or Subcommittee 16 as it
came to be known, would report on "the extent to
which these j^arties represent substantial sections
of opinion in the territory in question" and woidd
recommend "whether, and if so how" they should
be heard by Connnittee I. The Chairman's pro-
posal was readily and unanimously adopted by
the Committee.^"

Views of the United Kingdom,
United States, France, and U.S.S.R.

General discussion of the problem began with
Mr. McNeil's full statement of the United King-
dom's views. His Government believed that
Tripolitania and Cyrenaica should be granted in-
dependence as soon as possible and that "in exist-
ing circumstances the Trusteeship System no
longer seemed practicable for those territories."
Cyrenaica had long demanded and had recently
obtained the fullest measure of self-government
that Britain and the General Assembly could pos-
sibly give under their international obligations
to make final disposition of the former colonies.^"

A similar grant of measures of self-government
in Tripolitania should not long be delayed. Al-
though union of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica
appeared an "inevitable historical development,"
it was important to know what form such a union
would take. This form could best be decided by
the inhabitants themselves, once they had achieved
the necessary development. In her administration
of these two parts of Libya, Britain was tiding
to arrange for their inhabitants to consult freely
on their future relation. The special position of
the Italian comnuniity in Tripolitania and the
close economic links between that area and Italy
should be borne in mind by the Assembly, and the

May 29, 1950


future government of Libya or Tripolitania might
advantageously conclude an agreement on eco-
nomic and social matters with Italy. As for the
Fezzan, the United Kingdom conceded France's
special interest there and would await an expres-
sion of France's views.

Mr. McNeil reaffirmed British support for the
placing of Italian Somaliland under trusteeship
with Italy as the administering power. He then
reviewed the problem of Eritrea. He made it clear
that his Government still believed the best solution
would be union of the eastern provinces with Ethi-
opia and incorporation of the western province
into the Sudan. Such disposition of Eritrean ter-
ritory would not, he asserted, be "dismemberment"
since Eritrea was a conglomeration of a wide vari-
ety of races and religions ; it had not been the result
of organic political growth but was a legacy of
old merchant companies and of nineteenth century
colonial expansion. The proposal would really
resolve into its component parts a "completely
artificial unit which, if set up as a state, could be
only a prey to internal conflict." ^'

Mr. Jessup then developed the United States
position which Secretary Acheson had previously
outlined. It should be possible, he said, to decide
on a plan for establishment of a united and inde-
pendent Libya which could be carried out in 3 to 4
years. The type of government should be of the
Libyans' own choosing. The form of the new state
might be federal, unitary, or some other form
acceptable to the population. Representatives of
the three parts of Libya should be consulted well
in advance in order to determine the desirable type
of association. Meanwhile, the British and
French administrations should be asked to coop-
erate in forming governmental institutions and in
preparing Libya for independence. In addition,
the United States believed it would be helpful for
a council, responsible to the General Assembly, to
advise the British and French administrations
and, without interference in their affairs, as to
how assistance might be given to the inhabitants
with regard to the formation of a government for
a unified Libya and on such related problems as
common services, a common currency, and bound-
ary changes.

It would be best, said Mr. Jessup, to incorporate
Eritrea, except the western province in Ethiopia,
for racial, religious, and economic reasons, while
joining the western province to the Sudan on simi-
lar gi'ounds. The majority of the Assembly at
its last session had favored this solution with the
understanding that provision would be made for
the protection of minorities and for appropriate
municipal charters for the cities of Asmara and
Massawa. Italian Somaliland aspired to inde-
pendence and, since her people had not yet devel-
oped political institutions, she should be assisted
toward that goal through the United Nations trus-
teeship system. The United States was convinced
that democratic Italy was well-fitted to be named

as administering authority and that she would
faithfully discharge the obligations of trusteeship
toward the General Assembly and the people of the

Mr. Couve de Murville set forth France's views
in some detail on October 1. France, like other
members, believed that Libya was rightfully ap-
proaching early independence. Along with this
principle, the problem of unity and of providing
for a "guiding authority" during the transitional
period had to be considered. Though many dele-
gations were inclined to stress the importance of
unity, France believed that the affinities between
the three parts of Libya were easily exaggerated.
It might be best, with Libyan independence as a
goal, to create, in the respective parts of that ter-
ritory, separate governments which should be
granted independence soon but without attempting
to define the exact period. After such govern-
ments were functioning, they could determine "the
system of association under which they would
wish to live." During the interim, the administer-
ing powers would continue their responsibilities,
and the United Nations would naturally wish to
supervise, in appropriate fashion, the political
evolution which it would recommend for the area.
France, too, believed that the special connections
between Italy and the Italian community in Trip-
olitania should be taken into account.

For Somaliland, Mr. Couve de Murville advo-
cated Italian trusteeship. Reminding the Com-
mittee of the considerable support found at the
spring session for the division of Eritrea, he felt
that any solution must take into account Ethiopia's
territorial claims and the wishes of the inhabitants,
including the Italian minority. Any constructive
decision on that territory should be such as could
be accepted both by Ethiopia and Italy since their
future collaboration would be needed.^^

Speaking on October ?>, Mr. Arutiunian
(U.S.S.R.) insisted no further delay must be made
in solving this problem ; he added that, although
his country had always tried to expedite a just
solution, the Western powers, pursuing selfish
aims, had obstructed progress and had only pre-
tended to take into account the wishes of the inhab-
itants. As at the earlier session, the Soviet delegate
argued that there was an Anglo-American plan to
partition the former Italian colonies to suit their
own special interests. He censured Britain for
having gone so far as to grant internal self-govern-
ment to Cyrenaica, describing this as a "trick"
which was contrary to treaty obligations and not to
the liking of Libyans and of Arab countries gener-
ally. The General Assembly could choose between
the solution proposed by the United Kingdom and
the United States and that advanced by the
U.S.S.R. A choice of the former solution, he said,
would be in disregard of the Peace Treaty with
Italy and of the true wishes and welfare of the
peoples involved.^"

Mr. Arutiunian then read to the Committee the


Department of State Bulletin

Soviet draft resolution which had been circulateil
several days earlier.-' iinniediately at the conchi-
sion of Mr. McNeil's speech. The Soviet draft
called for —

1. The immediate gi-ant t)f independence to
Libya, and the withdrawal of all foreijrn forces
and military personnel, tofjether with the liquida-
tion of all military bases within :> months;

•2. Independence for Eritrea after 5 years, that
territory durinj; the interim to be placed under a
direct United Nations trusteeship with an admin-
istrator api)ointed by tlie Trusteeship Council.
There would be an advisorj' conmiittee to the ad-
ministrator consistinji of representatives of the
permanent members of the Security Council
and of Italy and Ethiopia plus a European and
two indigenous residents of Eritrea; a territorial
cession to Ethiopia would provide her with an
outlet to the sea through Assab.

3. For Italian Somaliland, the same trusteeship
arrangement as in the case of Eritrea.

Ethiopia's Position

Foreign Minister Aklilou's (Ethiopia) state-
ment dealt almost exclusively with Eritrea which,
he said, had for centuries been an integral part of
Ethiopia. Repeated investigations had shown
that tlie great majority of the people of eastern
Eritrea wanted union with Ethiopia and that only
thus could their economic welfare be assured. He

Cointed to the racial, religious, and cultural ties
inding tlie peoples of the eastern Eritrea plateau
and of the coastal region with Ethiopia; he
stressed that many Eritreans were in Ethiopian
Governmental service and that Moslems as well as
Christians lived under equal protection in his
country. To establish an independent Eritrea
would result in placing 70 percent of its people in
subjection to the minority in the western province.
This arrangement could only invite "domestic
troubles'' and possibly foreign intervention, a situ-
ation which Ethiopia would regard as all the more
disturbing if Somaliland were placed under Ital-
ian trusteeship. If Italy would recognize that
Eritrea could not be separated from Ethiopia and
would have confidence that Italian interests in
Eritrea would be protected by Ethiopia, then a
real and fruitful collaboration between former
enemies could grow.^-

Italian Statement

On October 1, Count Sforza, Italy's Foreign
Minister, set forth his (lovermnent's views."
Since Italian trusteeship in Tripolitania and Eri-
trea had not proved possible, Italy now favored
independence for both, with Tripolitania enabled
to choose freely her connection with a united Libya.
For Libya as a whole, there should be an "appro-
priate federal council" to protect the interests of
the peoples of its component parts. Italy favored

elections within fi months for a constituent as-
sembly in Tri|M)litania to establish a government
which would take over administration from the
Bi-itish; during the transitional period, an inter-
national commission, including an Italian repre-
sentative, could supervise that process. Italy
hoped to negotiate with such a goverimieni an
agreement safeguarding the interests of the Ital-
ian minority. Regarding Eritrea, Italy believed
she had the makings of an independent state and
that such a solution would be to the interest of lier
inhabitants and of Ethioi)ia as well, with whom
such a new state should develop fruitful relations.
Italy would welcome the opportunity to guide the
people of Italian Somaliland toward independence
under trusteeship — a res|)()nsibility which his Gov-
ernment did not take lightly since it would demand
patient effort, time, and capital. Count Sforza
concluded by expressing Italy's conviction that
she must "actively seek the friendship of the new
states coming to life in the territories where we
brought civilization." "

Views of Pakistan and India

Sir Zafrullah Khan (Pakistan) supported the
principle that Libya should be gi-anted independ-
ence as soon as possible with machinery such as
to assure attainment of that goal during a transi-
tion period. His delegation was not convinced
that Eritrean independence should be rejected on
economic grounds alone. It felt that more infor-
mation was needed on the whole question and in
particular on the wishes of the inhabitants. He
indicated that Italy's new position had impressed
him favorably but felt that further investigation
might be needed also to determine whether the
people of Italian Somaliland would welcome Ital-
ian trusteeship or might wish some other solution.
Sir Zafrullah Khan touched on his Government's
idea that, in dealing with Italian Somaliland,
nothing should be done to block eventual attain-
ment of some kind of union among all the Somali
peoples of whom those in Italian Somaliland were
but a part.^^

Sir B. N. Rau (India) advocated a special, three-
man commission to arrange for the setting up of a
constituent assembly in Libya, the latter then to
draw up a constitution embodying the desired form
of unity. That process might take 3 years. For
Somaliland and Eritrea, India felt that further
study and inquiry were needed and that commis-
sions should go to those territories for that pur-
pose. Possibly, the commission he envisaged for
Libya could devote a necessary measure of atten-
tion to the other two territories.^"

Arab States Attitudes

The views of several of the Arab states were
given during the first week of October. Mr.
Jamali (Iraq) led off by asking the Committee

May 29, 1950


not to tie, its consideration of any one of tlie former
colonies to any ])ossib]e disjiositions of the others.
He called for tlie immediate independence of Libya
with provision during a very short transitional
period for her people to work out the desired form
of unity.-' Ahdul Rahim (P^gypt) noted the gen-
eral trend in favor of independence and unity for
Libya. He suggested a short transitional period
during which a constituent assemljly could lie
elected and during wliicli tlie administering powers
would hand over authority without prejudicing
unity. The General Assembly could appoint a
special committee of five members (including an
Arab state representative) to supervise elections
and the gradual transfer of power to the Libyans.
Abdul Raliim also alluded to "adjustments along
Egyi)t's western boundaries with Liliya."-" He
suggested that three-member boundary conunis-
sions be formed to facilitate adjustment of bound-
ary questions involving all three of the former

For Syria, Fayez Bey El Kliouri reiterated the
importance of Libyan unity and inde])endence.
He exi)ressed concern over the extent to which
France would ])eriuit the Fezzan to join in that
unity. He warned against any further attemjits
at "subjugation or division" of Arab lands. Mr.
Malik (Lebanon) shared the views of other Arab
s]iokesmen on Liliya and urged that each of
Libya's component parts obtain its inde])endence
simultaneously so that the whole country could be-
come independent at once. He felt that the
trusteeshi]) system was ajijiropriate for Souialiland
and that for Eritrea a j^lan similar to tliat sug-
gested for Libya could be applied.^"

Some Latin American Views

Mr. Arce (Argentina) favored the principle of
independence for all of the territories concerned
and for Libya and Eritrea immediately. In eacji
case, a United Nations connnissicui, witliout. inter-
fering with the responsibilities of the administer-
ing powers, should guide the ]>eople of the
territories toward establishment of a provisional
goveriunent. In the case of Libya, I'epresentalives
of her three autonomous parts would tlien nego-
tiate for a suitable form of union, whether fedei-al
or otiierwise. An independent Eritrea should,
said Mr. .Vrce, iinme(liat(>ly entei' into an agi'ee-
menl witii Ethiopia guaranteeing the latter free
access to (he sea thi-ough Massawa. If necessary,
tlie I'nited Nations comniission, to secure Kthi-
opia such an outlet, might reconniiend a territorial
cession to Ethiopia. Jtalian Somaliland should
be ])laced under Italian trusteeshi)) with a view
to its indep(Midence. Mr. Aice iiulicated that h(>
would i-ecommeiul a subconniiit lee, consisting of
delegations whirb had offered drafts or ])roi)osals
during the ('omniilti'e debate, to consider tlie vari-
ous ])i'oj)osals and to di'aw u|) one oi' more final
j)roposals for tlie Committee's consideration."

Garcia Bauer (Guatemala) approved the idea
of Libyan independence and unity but felt that
it would l:>e wise to create a commission of inves-
tigation to prepare a plan on Eritrea for the next
General Assembly. He supported Italian trustee-
ship for Somaliland for KJ years after which the
territory's status should be reviewed.^-' Mr. Ichaso
(Cuba) opposed any artificial discussion of the
territories concerned and felt that the only ques-
tion was how best, in each case, to set their peoples
on the path to unity and freedom in accordance
with their wishes. Mr. Henriquez-Urena (Do-
minican Republic) adopted a similar approach but
mentioned a possible trusteeship imder Italy and
a special committee of the United Nations for
Somaliland. He also inclined toward a special
commission to study the question of Eritrea and
prejjare a report for the next Assembly.^^ IMr.
Stolk (Venezuela) agreed with the idea of inde-
pendence as a goal for all three territories and
attached great weight to Italy's cooperation and
point of view in working out solutions.^^

Other Views

The Union of South Africa, said Mr. Jooste,
agreed generally with the idea of independence
and unification of Libya, to be worked out accord-
ing to the wishes of the inhal)itants and with the
help of the administering authorities. He wanted
Italy's interest in the Italian community of Tri-
politania taken into account. For Italian Somali-
land, his country favored Italian trusteeship for a
substantial period of time. Since Eritrea was not
economically viable, she should not be pushed into
independence. Mr. Jooste remarked that the case
for the incorporation of a major jiart of Eritrea
into Ethiopia was a strong one, but he emphasized
that the interests of Italian communities in Eri-
trea would have to be safeguarded under any solu-
t ion for that territory. He indicated a preference
for some foi-m of trusteeshiji in Eritrea.-'^' Messrs. (Poland) and Clenientis (Czecho-
slovakia) sui)i)orled the Soviet ])ro])osals and criti-
cised the United Kingdom and the United States
for allegedly trying to gain control over these ter-
lilories.'" ^'ugoslavia*s re|)resentative, Mr. Beb-
ler, v.anted a unilied Libyan state immediately
and an independent Somaliland as soon as ]iossible.
Yugoslavia felt that a substantial part of Eritrea
.should justly be joined to Ethiopia, and a collec-
tive trusteeship could be ap])lii'd to the western
])rovince.-' Ml-. l''J)an (Israel) favored independ-
ence with varying degrees of spei'd for all 'A
territories and asked s])ecial consideration for the
Italians and .lews of Tripolitania."'* The repre-
sentative of Belgimu, Mr. van Langenhove, ex-
])ressed cautious interest in the idea of early inde-
pendence forLiliva and favored Italian trust eeshij)
for Somaliland.-*-' Mr. van Tallandt (Nether-
lands) ga\-(> posit ive support to Libyan inde]>end-
ence and suggested .'5 oi' 1 yeai's to woik out the
form of the new titate.'"'


Departmenf of Sfafe Bulletin

Hearings of Representatives of the Inhabitants

Betwoeii October t> ami 10, the First Coiuiuitteo
devoted most of its time to hearing the views of
the groups from the various territories whidi
the "screening" subcommittee had reconmiended
should be heard. The parties and organizations
included the following:

From Libya. — The National Congress of Tri-
jiolitania, the National Congress of Cyrcnaica, In-
dependence Party of Tripolitania, and the Jewish
Community of Tripolitania.

From. Italian Sonialiland. — The Somali Con-
ference, the Somali Youth League, and the Hamar
Youth Club.

From- Eritrea. — The Representative Committee
of the Italians in Eritrea, the Unionist Party of
Eritrea, the Independent Moslem League, and the
Eritrean Bloc for Independence.


Bashir Sadawi Bey spoke for the National Con-
gress of Trijiolitania and urged an independent
and united Libj-a which could become a factor for
peace and stability in the Middle East. His or-
ganization sought an immediate grant of inde-
pendence to Libya.*' Omar Sheiieib (National
Congress of Cyrenaica) also asked for Libyan inde-
pendence and referred to the impatience with
which the Cyrenaicans, under the Emir Al-Senussi,
were awaiting full freedom. He argued against
too long a transition jieriod and felt that Libya
should be unified under the Emir if the Tripoli-
tanians were agreeable. He saw no obstacle to
Libyan unity in the British action of granting
Cj'renaica internal self-rule and urged early inde-
l>endence for Tripolitania and the Fezzan.''^
Later, another spokesman for the same group read
to the Committee a cable from the Emir asking
for the complete independence of his country with-
out an interim period. Abdulla Sherif Bey (Inde-
l)endence Party of Tripolitania) demanded the
"immediate, integral and complete independence"
of Libya. During a transitional period prior to
the emergence of a democratic and constitutional
government, he felt that a United Nations Com-
mittee .should supervise implementation of the
Assembly's decision.''^

Mr. Perlzweig (Jewish Community of Tripoli-
tania) made two statements on October 7 and 10.
He asked for special safeguards for the position of
the Jewish conmiunity whose e

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 22, Apr- Jun 1950) → online text (page 63 of 116)