Volume #17 - 429.|
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
Memorandum by Defence Liaison (1) Division|
TOP SECRET ||
April 5th, 1951|
METHODS OF POLITICAL DISCUSSION IN THE NATO DEPUTIES AND THEIR POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE DISCUSSION OF YUGOSLAVIA|
Basis of Political Discussions in the Deputies
1. The Deputies were created by Council resolution No. 4/7 in May, 1950. The resolution lists some particular tasks which the Council should undertake and one of these is to "exchange views on political matters of common interest within the scope of the Treaty". The resolution goes on to say that Deputies shall be appointed to enable the Council to carry out its responsibilities. The resolution then states:
"In the intervals between meetings of Ministers, the Deputies, duly authorised by their respective governments, will be responsible, on behalf of and in the name of the Council, for carrying out its policies and for formulating issues requiring decisions by the Member Governments."
In the proposed new terms of reference of the Deputies, both of these tasks will be mentioned in much the same terms as were used in May, 1950, i.e., the task of exchanging views on political matters and the task of formulating issues requiring decisions by the Member Governments (or by the Council).
2. At the Council meeting in May, 1950, Canada was in favour of the Council and the Deputies exchanging views on political matters of common interest within the scope of the Treaty, and there has been no suggestion since then that Canada is opposed to such exchanges of views.
3. There is clearly a sharp distinction between exchanging views, on the one hand, and formulating issues for decisions, on the other hand, although exchanges of views may often lead to the formulation of issues requiring decisions.
Chronological Account of the Discussion of Yugoslavia by the Deputies
4. The Summary Record of the Deputies for January 15, 1951, states: "THE CHAIRMAN recalled that general political problems had already been discussed by the Deputies. This procedure seemed valuable and fruitful. He suggested that at regular intervals, every week at first and later perhaps every fortnight, the Deputies might exchange ideas on one of the current political problems of a general nature. He proposed that Yugoslavia should be discussed at the following meeting on Monday, 22nd January, 1951.
"The Deputies agreed in principle with this proposal, but stipulated that it was important that there should be a genuine exchange of views and not a series of unilateral statements by one or two Deputies. It would also be necessary for the subjects to be decided in advance, in order to give every Deputy the opportunity to obtain the views of his government and to express the official view. It would not be necessary to keep a record of these discussions."
5. On January 22, the discussion of Yugoslavia took place. The Summary Record does not report on the substance of the discussion. The Summary Record states:
"At the suggestion of the Canadian Deputy it was agreed that while the discussion would not appear in the normal way in the Summary Record, it would be desirable for the Secretary to prepare a draft agreed minute setting out the points covered in the course of discussion. This draft agreed minute could then be considered by a working group on which would be represented all interested delegations. In addition to considering the Secretary's draft the working group would also discuss further those points mentioned in the discussion on which no general agreement existed. Their views thereon would be consolidated and circulated to the Council Deputies, who would, as necessary, seek further instructions from their governments thereon with a view to continuing their discussion of them at a subsequent date."
In telegram No. 212 of January 24,? Canada House reported on the discussion and listed the points on which "general agreement was reached by the Council Deputies". One of these points was that "it was most desirable that the Western Powers should continue to give economic assistance to the Government of Yugoslavia to the best of their ability".
6. On January 29, telegram No. 248 ? from Canada House described the contents of the draft "agreed minute" prepared by a Working Group. The Department of External Affairs did not send to London any comments on this draft before it came up at the next meeting of the Deputies on February 12. On February 12, the Deputies had before them the draft agreed minute and approved it with a few changes. The Summary Record of the meeting states:
"It was agreed that this document did not constitute an "agreement" in the sense of a commitment for the governments which were a party to it, but was merely the consensus of opinion of those governments on the particular question."
7. Telegram No. 359 of February 13? from Canada House reported on the discussion by the Deputies on February 12 and said, in part:
"In order to avoid misunderstanding and to allay the uneasiness of certain delegations (which apparently included the Danish delegation), Spofford explained that the document was not intended to represent a formal agreement for action, but was merely a record of the present consensus of the Deputies which might be helpful in assisting governments to determine their attitudes towards a common problem. The meeting agreed with Spofford's interprÉtation of the status of the document.
"The Belgian Deputy suggested that, if individual governments modified their views in a direction different from that indicated in the document, it might be desirable for the deputies to be advised informally of any such change. There was general agreement with this suggestion."
8. The "agreed minute" is Document DD(51)29(Final).? It is in two main parts. The first part lists points on which `general agreement was reached by the Council Deputies", and one of these points is the desirability of the Western Powers giving economic assistance to the Government of Yugoslavia to the best of their ability. The second part summarizes an exchange of views on the question of military support in advance of any open attack; this part merely reports views which were expressed and does not purport to say that the Deputies agreed to them.
Subsequent Political Discussion by the Deputies
9. Following the precedent established in respect of Yugoslavia, the Deputies had a similar discussion on March 12 regarding the Balkan satellite states. The Summary Record states:
"THE CHAIRMAN suggested that the procedure adopted for the exchange of views on Yugoslavia should also be followed in this instance and that an Ad Hoc Working Group should be instructed to prepare an agreed summary, setting out the consensus of the views expressed in discussion, for subsequent consideration by the Council Deputies after consultation with their respective governments. This agreed summary would not constitute any commitment for the NAT countries with regard to future action. He suggested that it might help future exchanges on political questions if the Ad Hoc Working Group could devise an agreed outline which would consist of a number of specific questions, on the basis of which the respective governments would be asked for instructions. The main object of this outline would be to enable those governments whose sources of information were more restricted than others to frame specific questions on which they were anxious to obtain information from other NAT countries.
THE COUNCIL DEPUTIES:
(1) Instructed the Ad Hoc Working Group to prepare a draft agreed summary on the lines proposed by the Chairman.
(2) Instructed the Working Group to draw up an agreed outline, for transmission to governments, consisting of specific questions on which instructions from governments would be sought."
10. Telegram No. 702 of March 22? from Canada House gives the text of the draft agreed minute concerning this discussion. Most of the minute consists of an appreciation of conditions in the countries. It goes on to say that there should be further consultation in the Deputies on several questions of future policy, e.g., policy towards admission to the United Nations, and policy regarding diplomatic representation. The discussion of these points will take place in April. To date, therefore, we are not called upon to approve a draft agreed minute containing positive policy recommendations.
Possible Objections to the Procedure Followed by the Deputies
11. There has not been a clear distinction between the task of exchanging views and the task of formulating issues for decision by Governments.
12. There has not been a clear distinction, at least in the case of Yugoslavia, between agreeing on an appreciation of the present position and recommending future policy to be followed by the NATO Governments.
13. If it is thought desirable, in certain fields of foreign policy, to try to obtain an agreed policy among NATO Members, the recommended policy (i.e. the issue) should be clearly formulated and segregated for decision by Governments or, in some cases, for decision by the Council on behalf of the Governments. In the case of the Yugoslav discussions, the final result seems to be that we are onequarter committed to an economic policy which has not been placed before the Canadian Cabinet and which, in fact, Canada has not been following. If it is desired to obtain an agreed NATO foreign policy on some point, all Governments should know clearly that this is the object of the exercise and should not imperceptibly slide from an exchange of views into a kind of vague agreement on future policy.
14. The main criticism of the procedure followed is that the "agreed minute" is not the best instrument for formulating an issue for decision by Governments.
Suggestions for Future Procedure in the Deputies
15. If there should be agreement with the criticisms listed under the previous heading, the following procedure might be considered as more satisfactory:
16. The discussion itself should not be restricted or limited. There is everything to be said in favour of frank discussion in the Deputies of political questions which may affect the Treaty. If any Deputy is in a position, in such a discussion, to recommend a policy on behalf of his Government, he should certainly do so.
17. The agreed minute should do two things:
(1) Set forth the agreed appreciation of the presentposition;
(2) Set forth what any named or unnamed Deputy or Government thinks the policy should be on any point.
18. The agreed minute should not be officially submitted to Governments in advance of its approval by the Deputies. It should be approved by the Deputies as an accurate record of the discussion and as nothing more and should then, of course, be sent to Governments for their information and consideration.
19. If, during the political discussion, or as a result of it, any Deputy thinks that an issue should be formulated for decision by Governments, or for consideration by the Council, he should formulate it in a resolution, and ample time should then be given to Governments to consider the resolution before it is adopted.
20. The High Commissioner in London might be asked to comment on this memorandum and on the substance of the procedural suggestions listed above. He could also be asked to give advice on the following question: If the Secretary of State for External Affairs would be in agreement with these suggestions, what would be the best method of bringing them before the Deputies?34
34Note marginate :/Marginal note: