Transfer of UN Mediator’s functions to the Commission – UNCCP 3rd Meeting – Summary record



Held at the Hotel des Bergues, Geneva,.

on Tuesday, 18 January 1949, at 4.10 p.m.








(United States of America)


Principal Secretary


Administrative Officer

* alternate

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY having circulated copies of the draft text of a telegram to be addressed by the Commission to the Acting Mediator,

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) expressed his approval of the text, but observed that it referred to the continuation of the armistice negotiations by the Acting Mediator, whereas the Acting Mediator had requested the Security Council to relieve him of that task. It was reasonable to assume that the Security Council would not give the Conciliation Commission powers to act before it reached Jerusalem and before the arrival of the United States Commissioner there. He therefore thought that it would be desirable to indicate to the Security Council the fact that the Commission would not expect to exercise functions or take decisions before arriving in Jerusalem.

Mr. WILKINS (United States of America) felt that it was desirable that the Acting Mediator’s services should be retained. Moreover, since he had not been able to come to Geneva, he should be requested to meet the members of the Conciliation Commission in Jerusalem.

Mr. du BOISANGER (France) also considered it highly desirable that the Acting Mediator should meet the Conciliation Commission, but felt that no telegram should be despatched which would be liable to interrupt his work. The telegram might express the hope that the members of the Conciliation Commission would be able to meet the Acting Mediator in Jerusalem as soon as his duties allowed.

Mr. WILKINS (United States of America) pointed out that the Security Council might wish the Acting Mediator to collaborate with the Commission in an advisory capacity. He also expressed the opinion that if the Acting Mediator had initiated negotiations with the Arab States, it was highly desirable that he should prosecute them further. It might however be premature to make reference to such negotiations in the telegram at present under discussion.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY agreed with the views expressed by Mr. Wilkins, and said that if the Commission so desired he could himself go to Rhodes to discuss the matter with the Acting Mediator. It would however be easier to assess the expediency of such a course in Jerusalem.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) did not feel that a decision could be taken on that point, since a visit of the Conciliation Commission to Rhodes would raise delicate issues.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, pointed out that he had not referred to a visit by the Conciliation Commission.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) appreciated the point made by Mr. Wilkins with regard to possible extension of the scope of negotiation by the Acting Mediator, but felt that, since it would be premature and inexpedient to refer to such negotiations, it would be wiser to delete from the text of the telegram the reference to the “Egyptian and Israeli representatives.”

The CHAIRMAN agreed with the representative of France, and emphasized that once the Conciliation Commission was established in Jerusalem the Acting Mediator would no longer be free to continue his negotiations with other Arab States, except with the cognisance of the Commission.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) emphasised that he had proposed the deletion of the reference to the Egyptian and Israeli representatives because the Acting Mediator might have an opportunity of bringing Lebanon and Transjordan into the framework of the negotiations at Rhodes before 24 January; the Conciliation Commission should do nothing to hinder such a development.

Mr. WILKINS (United States of America) recalled that the Acting Mediator had been entrusted with the task of concluding the negotiations in accordance with the terms of the Security Council Resolution of 16 November 1948, and proposed that a reference thereto be made in the telegram.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, speaking in a private capacity, informed the Commission that the Acting Mediator was not certain that he would be able to extend the negotiations now in progress to other States, and, indeed, desired the Conciliation Commission to take over such negotiations. He was also anxious that a date should be fixed for the termination of his functions.

After some discussion concerning the approaches made to the Governments of the Lebanon and Transjordan by the Acting Mediator, Mr. de BOISANGER (France) said that his Government was well aware of the fact that the Government of the United States was anxious to see the negotiations extended, and that it was important that the Conciliation Commission should in no way hamper the Acting Mediator in his endeavours to achieve that result. He therefore proposed that the words “now in progress” be deleted from the telegram.

Mr. WILKINS (United States of America) said that the negotiations now proceeding at Rhodes were covered by the terms of the resolution adopted by the Security Council and that it was intended that the Conciliation Commission should take up discussions on a political, and not a military, basis as soon as possible. It was not desirable for the Commission to inherit the armistice negotiations; if the Acting Mediator surrendered his office, supervision of the truce would devolve upon the Commission. It was to be hoped that the Acting Mediator would succeed in concluding an armistice agreement, so that the machinery of truce supervision could be reduced.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY pointed out that it was for the Security Council to take a decision on the transfer of the Acting Mediator’s powers to the Conciliation Commission. The latter would be better able to judge on the spot whether other and more extensive negotiations should be contemplated.

He read out the paragraphs relating to the transfer of the powers of the Acting Mediator to the Conciliation Commission in the General Assembly’s resolution of 11 December 1948 (Document A/807), and pointed out that only after the Security Council had made a request to the Conciliation Commission would the Commission be in a position fully to assess the situation and reply to the Council.

Mr. WILKINS (United States of America) moved that the words “now in progress” be deleted.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY said that the same words should therefore also be deleted from the Chairman’s telegram to the President of the Security Council.

It was decided that the request to the Acting Mediator to meet the Conciliation Commission should be made at a later stage.

The proposal to delete the words “now in progress between Egyptian and Israeli representatives” from the text of the telegram to be despatched to the Acting Mediator was adopted. Item 2 of the Agenda. (Draft of telegram to be despatched to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the governments concerned).

The CHAIRMAN having asked whether Israel was a government.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY said that he would use the formula adopted by the United Nations.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) requested that Syria should be included in the list of governments concerned.

After some discussion, it was decided that the telegram should be sent to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria as well as to those of Egypt, Israel, Lebanon Iraq and Transjordan.

Item 3 of the Agenda: (Draft telegram to be sent to the League of Arab States).

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) stated that his Government did not recognise the League of Arab States. He felt that since the-telegram was to be addressed to the Government of each country, it would be superfluous to address a copy to the League.

The CHAIRMAN pointed out that the Arab world regarded the League as a recognised political entity, and that it had played a part in earlier negotiations.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) maintained that the whole question of the League was an internal problem of the Arab world alone.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY stated that the Arab League had played an important role in the Palestine question, and that for the Conciliation Commission to ignore it at the present stage would be too flagrant a departure from past practice. He proposed therefore that the telegram should not be sent by the Chairman of the Commission, but that he himself should send a copy to the Secretary-General of the League for information only.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) did not object, provided there was no reference in the text of the telegram to any instructions issued by the Conciliation Commission.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY emphasised that, as the Chairman had pointed out, the League of Arab States had been taken into account in all earlier negotiations; the Mediator had in fact accredited a political observer to it.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) agreed to the solution proposed by the Principal Secretary on condition that the latter despatched the telegram in his personal capacity.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY stated that he was prepared to send the telegram to Azzam Pasha, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, for the latter’s “personal information” and that the Chairman of the Conciliation Commission could later disavow that action.

The CHAIRMAN ruled that there should be no reference to “personal information” in the telegram.

It was decided that subject to the reservations expressed, the principal Secretary should send a copy of the telegram to the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

Mr. WILKINS (United State’s of America), having asked what form of address would be used in the case of Israel, it was decided that the precedent established by the United Nations Mediator in his Report (Document 4648) should be followed, and the telegram addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Provisional Government of. Israel.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France), referring to the General Assembly’s resolution of 11 December 1948 (Document A/807), asked whether a telegram should not also be sent to the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees, informing him that the Conciliation Commission had been constituted.

It was so decided.

Item 4 of the Agenda. (Information from the Principal Secretary).

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY informed the members of the Commission that the Deputy Principal Secretary had been appointed and would shortly join the Commission.

He gave a general outline of the administrative organization in Palestine, with special reference to the fact that the supervision of the truce came within the province of the Mediator’s Chief of Staff. The Acting Mediator, on the other hand, was responsible for all political questions, and had appointed a political representative to each of the Arab States.

Mr. de BOISANGER (France) said that it would be very useful for the Commission to have a complete picture, in the. Principal Secretary’s report, of the administrative machinery at the disposal of the Acting Mediator. His impression was that that machinery was somewhat complex.

Mr. COOK (Administrative Officer), pointed out that the Secretary-General of the United Nations had ordered that as from 1 February 1949, the number of observers should be reduced from 500 to 288.

The PRINCIPAL SECRETARY added that that reduction in the number of observers would make possible a reduction in the civilian administrative staff. He hoped to be able to prepare his report and give members a full administrative picture before the Commission left for Jerusalem on 20 January. He wished also to include in that report a statement as to the competence of the Conciliation Commission.

The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.


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