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

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8. U.S. (A/C.l/SC.n/L.19)

9. Atistralia (A/C.1/SC.17/L.20)

10. Argentina (A/C.l/SC.n/L.21)

11. Brazil. India, Iraq, Liberia, U.S.: alternative draft
resolutions {A/C.l/SC.n/L.22)

12. U.S.: amendments to the Onatemalan proposal

13. Chile: amendment to the U.S. amendments to the
Guatemalan proposal (.A/C.l/SC.n/L.2J,)

14. Australia and Guatemala: revised proposal {A/C.l/

15. U.S.: amendment to the Australian and Guatemalan
revised proposal (A/C.l/SC.n/L.26)

The general discussion of Eritrea was opened by
Mr. Jessup (United States) who felt there was
an area of agreement among the members on the
following points :

1. Ethiopia had fundamental rights and inter-
ests in the area which must be recognized.

2. The majority of Eritreans in the Central
Plateau were closely affiliated racially and ethni-
cally with the Ethiopians.

3. Ethiopia should have access to the sea.

Denying that the territory was originally a
single entity, Mr. Jessup described Eritrea as a
typical artificial colonial creation. She had none
of the linguistic, racial, geographic, or economic
attributes of a unitary state. On the economic
side, Mr. Jessup quotetl the Four Power Commis-
sion's conclusion tliat Eritrea would have the
greatest difficulty in meeting her economic needs
without external aid. The security interests of


Department of State Bulletin

Africa and the rest of the •world would be best
served by the reiiicoriionitioii of the central
plateau of Eritrea into Ethiopia as the majority
of the plateau people desired. Citing reasons for
the annexation of the western province to the Su-
dan, Mr. Jessup argued tluit her inhabitants were
predomiinxntly Moslem and nomadic — wandering
into the Sudan — in contrast to the predominantly
Christian and sedentary character of the people
of the central plateau.

Mr. Akiilou (Ethiopia) stressed two guiding
principles for the solution of the Eritrean prob-
lem provided for in anne.\ XI of the Italian Teace
Treaty :

1. the -wishes and welfare of the inhabitants;

2. the interests of peace and security.

The Subcommittee, he stated, had already
ignored the wishes of the people in regard to
Somaliland. If independence were granted to
Eritrea, the minority of 25,000 Italians would be
the actual leaders of one million inhabitants. This
situation, he added, would be tantamount to
Italian control and would constitute a menace to '
Ethiopia's security. The so-called port of Assab
was not really a port and had no installations.
Although Ethiopia needed Massawa, she had not
asked for it specifically, believing that Massawa
could not be cut off from Ethiopia and survive.

Mr. Clutton (U.K.) pointed out that the terri-
tory could never become an entity without an
external force to keep it together. Once this foi'ce
were withdrawn, the centrifugal forces would fly
apart. It would be wrong to keep a country to-
gether by outside force in view of the wishes of a
compact block of 450,000 Eritreans for unity with

Mr. Couve de Murville (France) supported the
United States position with regard to eastern
Eritrea, provided that the Italian interests were
safeguarded and a special status was given to
Asmara and Massawa. He felt that no satisfac-
tory solution would be found unless the settlement
was agreed to by both Ethiopia and Italy. With
respect to the western province, Mr. Couve de
Murville reserved his Government's position. He
was not convinced that annexation to the Sudan
was the best solution, and he felt that more serious
study was needed. He hoped that economic co-
operation between Ethiopia and Italy would be
assured, since this was the key to the problem.

Mr. Arutiunian (U.S.S.R.), supported by Mr.
Boratynsky (Poland), agreed that Ethiopia's se-
curity interests were important but argued that
Eritrean independence would not jeopardize these
interests in any way. He stated that he was pre-
pared to support the Pakistan proposal for
Eritrean independence in 3-years time, unless Pak-
istan endorsed the U.S.S.R. 5-year provision. The
interim administration must be through a direct
United Nations trusteeship, Mr. Arutiunian

Sir Zafrullah Khan (Pakistan) contended that,
in his opinion and from existing evidence, a
majority of the people of Eritrea desired inde-
pendence. However, he was prepared to accept
wliatever a majority of tlie people desired, whetlier
union, partition, or independence. If some of the
provinces desired union with Ethiopia and others
desired partition, he would accept whatever these
l)rovinces desired. He was opposed to the imposi-
tion of union upon any section not desiring it. He
was ready to have the desires of the inliabitants
put to tlie test. Keplying to the U.S.S.R., Sir
Zafrullaii Khan said Pakistan was not wedded to
any jiarticular time for indejiendence and she was
prepared to support the Soviet 5-year proposal.
However, he preferred the Pakistan plan for an
interim administration along the lines approved
for Libya. Mr. Akiilou disagreed with the Pakis-
tan view on the wisjies of tlie jieople, stating that
68 percent of all the inhabitants favox-ed union
with Ethiopia.

Mr. Arce (Argentina) submitted a i)roposal for
an independent Eritrea and stressed that Eritrea
could enter a very close union politically or eco-
nomically with Ethiopia.* He was convinced that
Eritrea was in as favorable a position as Libya
to achieve statehood. As for the time of inde-
pendence, he indicated that he would not be
"sticky" on this point. He agreed with Pakistan
that Eritrea should be assisted by a council dur-
ing the interim period.

Sir B. N. Rau (India) suggested that the Sub-
committee first agree that Eritrea should be treated
■as a single unit and that she became independent
not later than January 1, 1952 (as in the Argentine
draft). He believed that this state should be
united with Ethiopia by certain common services
and ports insuring Ethiopia adequate access to
the sea but that the northwestern province should
have the right to secede from the state at any time.°

Mr. Cooper (Liberia) expressed opposition to
the partitioning of Eritrea but did not think that
the area was ready for independence. He also
opposed the return of Italy to any part of Africa.

ftlr. Jamali (Iraq) in submitting a compromise
proposal which provided for an autonomous state
at the end of 3 years and a United Nations Com-
missioner with a council to cooperate with the peo-
ple in setting up their autonomous government,
stressed two guiding princijiles: tlie peoples'
wishes and the integrity of Eritrea.^ His draft,
he declared, also paid due consideration to Ethi-
opia's rights by the provision for a referendum in
the third year to determine whether the majority
preferred union with Ethiopia, a federation under
the Crown of the Emperor, or, failing that, an eco-
nomic union granting Ethiopia a passage to the
sea and a port thereon.

Mr. Jooste (Union of South Africa) was of the
opinion that independence as a separate state was
not justified now or in the immediate future.
South Africa recognized the legitimate claims of

MoY 29, J 950


Ethiopia and the need for guaranteeing Italian
minority rights but doubted whether incorpora-
tion of the eastern area was justified without fur-
ther evidence. He preferred further study of the
whole problem, but if pressed to cast his vote on
the two major issues namely, incorporation of the
major portion into Ethiopia and independence,
he would be obliged to reserve his position on the
former and oppose the latter. Mr. Yu (China)
opposed the partitioning of Eritrea and stated
that he would support any proposal which pro-
moted the interests of the United Nations.

Since it appeared unlikely that all would agree
on a proposal which each would deem the best
possible solution, Mr. Jessup introduced "sugges-
tions" which were based on the previous discussion
and on Iraq's proposal and which, in his view, indi-
cated common points of view.' Mr. Jessup read
the series of "suggestions" for federation with
Ethiopia through the person of the Emperor which
he thought might be utilized by a drafting group
in framing a resolution. At the request of Mr.
Aklilou, further consideration of these suggestions
was adjourned until the following day.

Sir B. N. Rau, on October 20, explained that the
resolution he had proposed at the last meeting
was not intended to restrict the extent of Eritrean
linkage with Ethiopia. The draft providing for
common services set out "only a minimum range"
with the actual amount of the union to be left for
determination by a constitutional assembly.
Therefore, the Indian proposal was not intended
to exclude a possible federation with Ethiopia as
proposed in the United States suggestions. "In-
dependent sovereignty" in the Indian draft, he
said, should not be construed too strictly since
Eritrea's status in an Ethio-Eritrean union would
resemble the position of a state within the U.S.S.R.
Provinces joming in such a union would enjoy a
certain degree of local autonomy, including the
right to secede.

Mr. Aklilou declared that the United States
suggestions and the Indian proposal were positive
proposals, although they did not fully satisfy
Ethiopian claims. He was not quite certain as
to the exact meaning of the Iraq proposal and
thought that it was unacceptable because it would,
in fact, form an independent state of Eritrea and
then ask this state to cede part of her territory.

Mr. Muniz (Brazil) welcomed the proposals of
Iraq, Argentina, and India and the suggestions
of the United States. All these proposals, he said,
embodied the concept of maintaining the terri-
torial integrity of Eritrea, which in the view of
his delegation, was an essential factor in any pro-
posed solution.

The debate thus far had indicated that there
was no majority support for any solution dis-
cussed. Mr. Hood (Australia), thereupon, pro-
posed on October 21 that the General Assembly
create a special committee which would study the
problem of the disposal of Eritrea and report

back with recommendations "paying special re-
gard to the claims and interests of Ethiopia."^
He felt that such a group could obtain the neces-
sary information and assess local opinion prior
to submitting recommendations. Mr. Bauer
(Guatemala) indicated he was introducing a simi-
lar proposal."

Mr. Glutton, analyzing the various alterna-
tives, stated that partition was the only "workable
and just" solution. With regard to the western
province, his delegation would not oppose a solu-
tion which was found to be better than the pro-
posal of incorporation into the Sudan. Turning
to independence, he warned that a purely Eritrean
government would collapse shortly after the with-
drawal of the administering authority since op-
posing factions would clash, resulting in civil war.
Eventual appeals for intervention would result,
he predicted. Similar problems would face any
United Nations trusteeship organ and "a consid-
erable armed force" would be required to maintain
its administration. The United States sugges-
tions for federation had the merits of doing justice
to Ethiopia, preserving Eritrea's integrity, and
offering alternatives to the eastern province, but
the suggestions were unclear in certain respects.
The move for further study should be only a last
step and should include investigation to check
British information and predictions that certain
plans would be unworkable and dangerous. Mr.
Glutton concluded that he did not oppose the
United States suggestions provided that the task
of implementation was not left to the U.K. but
transferred to some other authority such as Etlii-
opia. He might, after further consideration, sup-
port the United States ideas.

Messrs. Jessup, Akilou, Joose, Bauer, and
Gouve de Murville agreed that the proposal
for postponement and an investigating com-
mission would be an admission of failure by the
United Nations to solve the question of Eritrea and
that it should be considered, if at all, only as a
last resort. Sir Zaf rullah Khan said that it would
be better not to arrive at a solution at the present
session if the delegates were not completely satis-
fied that the solution reached would be fair and
just to the people concerned. Mr. Yu suggested
prior Italo-Ethiopian agreement and opposed
forming any investigation commission until the
possibility for such talks had been explored.

Mr. Gouve de Murville still hoped for a positive
solution. On the question of independence, he
stressed the need for devising implementation
measures and believed the United States sugges-
tions were not clear. The concept, "perfect union
under the crown," must be strictly defined; the
drafting of the constitution, although important,
was less so than providing for its implementation.
Mr. Gouve de Murville concluded by agreeing with
Mr. Yu that there would be no real solution before
Italy and Etliiopia had reached agi'eement on


Departmenf of Stafe Bulletin

Mr. Jessup dcfondod his suggestions. He
said the word "partition" had a "psychic fringe";
although "iniU'pondence" also had a "psychic
fringe," titklod the fancy, and gave a sense of
righteousness, independence was something which
was granted, not imposed. The solution of inde-
pendence would mean a solution imposed on at
least 40 percent of the Eritrean population who
desire union with Ethiopia. He agreed with Mr.
Glutton as to the complexity of trusteeship and
defended the original United States proposal for
partition as a frank acknowledgment of the facts.
Mr. Jessup doubted that an investigation body
could uncover any universal opinion and believed
that a plan could be worked out for Eritrea in the

g resent session as had been done for Libya and
omaliland. Conceding the gaps in the United
States suggestions, Mr. Jessup suggested that a
working group of Brazil, India, Iraq, Liberia, and
the United States should meet before to elaborate
the suggestions. Etliiopia was invited to partici-
pate along with Chairman Nervo (Mexico) and
Rapporteur Hood.


Sir B. N. Eau (India) and Mr. Jessup (U.S.)
reopened the debate on October 22 by presenting
the joint compormise proposal prepared by Brazil,
India, Iraq, Liberia and the United States." It
provided for a 10-year federation of Eritrea
with Ethiopia and a plebiscite at the end
of that period in each province to determine
whether the people desired to continue the feder-
ation, secede therefrom, or unite more closely with
Ethiopia. A United Nations commissioner with
the help of a committee of experts (composed of
representatives of the various communities in
Eritrea and of certain countries) would draw up
the constitution of the federation, and the com-
missioner would reside in Eritrea for 11 years
to supervise the working of the constitution. After
Sir B. N. Rau explained that the draft as "ham-
mered out" represented a reasonable compromise,
Mr. Jessup said that the draft was a very serious
and sincere effort at reconciling the different points
of view and that he and the other sponsors reserved
the right to return to their original proposals if
this compromise were rejected. He observed that
the measure recognized differing points of view
and called for a plebescite after 10 years to test
a reaction to federation. The provision for a
United Nations commission and committee of
experts envisaged a continuing United Nations
concern in the problem until all details were
worked out, he said, stressing that only a short
transitional period was provided before the new
regime would be inaugurated in June 1950.

Mr. Arce (Argentina), adhering to independ-
ence, did not like the proposed compromise for-
mula, nor did Mr. Arutiunian (U.S.S.R). Sir
Zafrullah Khan (Pakistan) also took exception

to the plan. Mr. Boratynsky (Poland) shared Mr.
Arutiunian's views, while Mr. Jamali (Iraq) pre-
ferred his own approach, notwithstanding his
participation in the drafting of the compromise.
Mr. Cooper (Liberia) considered the proposed
formula the best move to avoid a deadlock and, in
this opinion, was joined by Mr. Muniz (Brazil),

Mr. Clutton (U.K.) considered the proposal as
not meeting the real problem of unity, but he would
not commit himself before hearing Ethiopia's
views. If his own preference for partition were
rejected, he would abstain. He suggested that the
drafters provide for the early transfer of admin-
istration to the Government of Ethiopia pending
the full establishment of an Eritrean government.

Mr. Aklilou (Ethiopia) asserted that his first
reaction to the joint compromise plan was not
favorable but that this was not his final position.
He did not like certain of the provisions such as
the use of an outside organ to prepare the consti-
tution of the federation. Mr. Couve de Murville
(France) referred to the same question; he won-
dered how a United Nations commissioner could
draft a federal constitution while the Ethiopian
Government still functioned. He also held that
the powers of the commissioner, once the constitu-
tion were promulgated, were vague.

Mr. Jessup agreed with Sir B. N. Rau that under
the joint compromise proposal independence for
Eritrea would be one of the alternatives open to
the people of Eritrea after 10 years. The proposal
did give the Eritreans an opportunity to express
their desires by a method far more specific than
any one so far proposed. Since all proposals con-
tained provisions for some interim period of from
3 to 5 years, the 10-year period specified in the
compromise proposal might be revised to meet the
general desire. Mr. Jessup was confident that
there would be little difficulty in relying on Ethio-
pian administration, and, although certain amend-
ments and clarifications might be needed, this pro-
posal pointed a way out. Sir B. N. Rau believed
that the constitution framing would include two
documents, one Eritrean, the other federal. The
commissioner would serve primarily to consult
with local representatives on the former. Sir
B. N. Rau suggested that the constitution might
contain provisions for subsequent amendment by
an Eritrean legislature, thus allowing full voice
eventually to local views.

In the view of Mr. Santa Cruz (Chile), federa-
tion looked very much like annexation and he
would have to vote against the joint proposal. In
the absence of an indication of public wishes and
if an immediate solution were imperative, he
thought that independence should be voted; the
people could then correct any United Nations error.
In view of the lack of agreement, the proposals of
Australia and Guatemala for postponement of the
issue should be seriously considered. He did not
think that any of the proposed solutions for Eri-

May 29, 1950


trea would find the necessary two-thirds majority
in the General Assembly.


At the October 24 meeting, Mr. Arce (Argen-
tina) introduced what he described as a com-
promise proposed on Eritrea ; " although, he was
not withdrawing his original plan. The text en-
visaged a United Nations commissioner to be
assisted by a council composed of nine members,
six to be designated by the Governments of Egypt,
Ethiopia, France, Italy, United Kingdom, and
United States; the remaining three members
would be designated by the commissioner and
would represent the Moslem, Coptic, and Italian
communities of Eritrea. The United Nations
commissioner, after consultation with the council,
would set up a "provisional assembly of Eritrea"
composed of sixteen members, seven of these would
be representatives of the Moslem, seven would
represent the Italian community- The members
of the council who would represent the three com-
munities of Eritrea would also be eligible for
membership in the provisional assembly. This
provisional assembly would decide on behalf of
the people of Eritrea whether —

1. Eritrea should become totally or partially
annexed to Ethiopia; or

2. Eritrea should be united to Ethiopia in the
form of a confederation preserving its autonomy
only for the purpose of local governments; or

3. Eritrea should keep its unity and autonomy
and be established as an independent and sov-
ereign state.

Satisfaction of Ethiopian claims was to be pro-
vided for in two special clauses in the constitution
in the event that independence was decided

1. that Eritrea undertake to negotiate a treaty
of peace, friendship, and commerce with Ethiopia,
providing for Ethiopia's free access to the Red Sea
through the port of Massawa ;

2. that, if it was not found possible to sign such
a treaty, Eritrea undertake to cede to Ethiopia the
necessary territory in order that Ethiopia might
have access to the Red Sea through the port of

Sir B. N. Rau (India) circulated his own gen-
eral plan for a federal constitution prepared in
reply to the various questions of the previous day.
He also circulated a series of'amendments to the
joint compromise proposal which had been ac-
cepted by the other four co-sponsors. The revi-
sions included changing the interim period before
the plebiscite from 10 to 5 years. The United
Nations commissioner's committee of experts
would include in addition to representatives of

certain unspecified countries and a representative
from the Moslem, Coptic, and Italian commu-
nities in Eritrea, three members elected by the
legislature of Ethiopia, which was to be a partner
in the federation. Sir B. N. Rau proposed that in
drafting the part of the constitution relating ex-
clusively to Eritrea, the commissioner should be
guided by the advice of the Eritrean members of
the committee, while the advice of the committee
as a whole should be employed in framing the rest
of the document. Turning to the new proposal
introduced by Argentina, Sir B. N. Rau observed
that the joint compromise proposal would give
Eritrea independence over a large number of mat-
ters 11^ years earlier than the Argentine measure
and offered the possibility of complete independ-
ence by 1955. He also felt that the provisional
assembly of 16 proposed by Argentina would not
be so satisfactory as a plebiscite of the entire

On October 25, the consideration of the Argen-
tine proposal was continued. Mr. Jessup (U.S.)
asked whether —

1. the three local representatives on the pro-
posed United Nations committee of experts would
be members of the sixteen-man provisional assem-
bly and whether

2. these three local representatives would be se-
lected by the commissioner without prior consul-
tation with the communities involved. He also
asked if

3. the two Italian members of the provisional
assembly would not hold the balance against the
Copts and Moslems;

4. was the proposed public consultation consid-
ered better than a plebiscite

5. finally, he asked what would happen to the
rest of the territory in case of partial union with
Ethiopia and whether

6. if the ultimate decision was independence,
Ethiopian claims in respect to Massawa (as out-
lined in paragraph 8(A) of the Argentine draft)
would not be rejected by Eritrea.

Mr. Arce replied that the local members of the
committee of experts would undoubtedly be the
most able, indigenous representatives and that they
should be included in the 16 members of the
provisional assembly. Furthermore, these three
representatives could be selected by the commis-
sioner after consultation with the local communi-
ties and the six United Nations members also on
the Committee. Mr. Arce said he liad proposed
a provisional assembly of seven Moslems, seven
Copts, and two Italians not to put the Italians in
a pivotal position but because in a larger repre-
sentative body each person would feel more like
voting individually rather than as a bloc mem-
ber. His provisional assembly consultation was
better than a plebiscite, he contended, since the
latter would take at least a year to organize. As
to partial annexation, Mr. Arce explained, he did


Department of State Bulletin

not incliule such specific provisions since it would
make tiie draft too cumbersome. In response to
Mr. Jessup's last query, Mr. Arce felt that an inde-
pentlent Eritrea with half its population stron

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 22, Apr- Jun 1950) → online text (page 67 of 116)