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October 17, 1958

Press Release containing a Speech by Minister of External Affairs Frank Aiken and Draft Resolutions on Nuclear Disarmament

Aiken’s first step was a modest paragraph calling for the formation of a UN commission to recommend measures to the next session. However, global attentions were focused on nuclear tests and their health effects, so Aiken linked his initiative with the American-led seventeen-power resolution requesting all states to suspend testing voluntarily. Aiken proposed an amendment to that motion that included the notion of brokering an understanding between nuclear weapons powers and non-nuclear powers.  He submitted that the former voluntarily desist from supplying nuclear weapons to other countries, while non-nuclear powers reciprocated and volunteered not to develop such weapons during a test suspension. This proposed quid pro quo became a staple in the Irish resolutions subsequently and eventually be inscribed into the NPT.

Aiken’s speech invoked recognizable tropes such as a ‘geometric’ increase in nuclear powers, creating an urgent need to halt the spread. His speech was seminal in identifying themes he and international opinion would rehearse in future years. He conjured up fears about small states and revolutionary groups with a bomb acting as ‘the detonator for world-wide thermonuclear war’. Aiken was perceptive – he expected criticisms about institutionalized equality between states (nuclear “haves” and “have nots”), harms to alliances, the sufficiency of test bans, and the absence of monitoring. He sought to disprove the validity of such critiques, and these issues were worked through gradually, eventually leading to the finalization of the NPT ten years later.  

March 18, 1968

Note for the Directorate of Political Affairs, Disarmament, 'Non-proliferation treaty: Draft resolution on non-nuclear countries guarantees'

The finalization of a completed draft nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which the ENDC transmitted to by the United Nations without endorsement on March 18, 1968, launched a French review of the NPT’s implications for international law. The draft NPT was accompanied by a proposed United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC), whose soft guarantees against nuclear-weapon use or threats had been a compromise workd out between Washington and Moscow. An initial study by Foreign Ministry lawyers identified numerous “juridical reasons… to fight against a project that, in its letter if not its spirit, constitutes a revision of the [UN] Charter." The report elaborated on how the hierarchization of “forms of aggression” would “downgrade” non-nuclear (i.e. conventional) violence. Non-nuclear-weapon states treaty signatories would receive non-binding security guarantees. The “Anglo-Saxons and Soviets” would maintain “freedom of action as far as what measures they choose to adopt.” Although the French government’s foremost legal experts opted not to advise vetoing the UNSC resolution, they warned the NPT package could serve as a warrant for nuclear-armed permanent members of the UN Security Council to wage “preventive war” in the name of worldwide nonproliferation.

October 28, 1966

J. A. Thomson (Head of Planning Staff, Foreign Office) to J.E.D. Street (Head of the Atomic Energy and Disarmament Department, Foreign Office), 'German Views on Non-Proliferation'

Before and after de Gaulle's November 1967 veto of Britain's second EEC application, Britain's position in Europe and its relationships with existing EEC states shaped the UK's role in the NPT negotiations. Prior to 1967, London canvassed opinion in EEC capitals, particularly in Bonn. As the NPT negotiations wound their way through the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (of which the United Kingdom was a member) in 1967, British representatives reported deep-seated concerns in Bonn, Brussels, the Hague, Luxembourg City, Paris, and Rome that a non-proliferation agreement might threaten the continued functioning of EURATOM, namely that its power might be subsumed into the IAEA, opening non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) up to commercial espionage conducted by inspectors representing the nuclear-weapon states (NWS).

May 16, 1968

Speech by the President of the Mexican Delegation, Ambassador Lic. Alfonso García Robles, Undersecretary of Foreign Relations, in the General Debate of the First Committee on the Topic 'The Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons', 22nd Session of the UNGA

Alfonso Garcia Robles explained Mexico’s position toward the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Mexican delegation’s position toward the NPT draft, and a comparison between the Treaty of Tlatelolco and the NPT draft. He explained that the Mexican delegation favored the NPT draft but wanted to make minor language modifications and include an explicit reference to the UN Charter’s articles on the use of force, especially Articles 2 (IV) and 26. Garcia Robles also explained why he thought the Treaty of Tlatelolco was “superior” to the NPT draft as a response to nuclear risks. He argued that the regional treaty better addressed nuclear threats than the NPT draft because it included more constraints on nuclear powers, a more precise definition of a nuclear weapon, and a more institutionalized system of controls.

October 9, 2020

Interview with Michael Yaffe

Michael Yaffe is a former US diplomat. He served as a member of the US delegation to ACRS. 

November 13, 1974

United Nations General Assembly Official Records, 29th Session : 2282nd Plenary Meeting, Agenda Item 108, 'Question of Palestine (continued)'

As other documents in this collection on Moroccan nationalists in 1947 and 1950 have exemplified, the United Nations was an important arena in decolonization struggles for Arabs, as it was for Asians and Africans as e.g. Alanna O’Malley’s The Diplomacy of Decolonisation: America, Britain, and the United Nations during the Congo crisis, 1960-1964 (2018) has shown. In this regard, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was founded in 1964 and taken over by the Fatah movement in 1969, was no exception.

To be sure, Palestinian organizations including Fatah and the PLO decried key UN actions. One was the UN Palestine partition plan of 1947; another was UN Security Council resolution 242 of November 1967. Calling upon Israel to withdraw “from territories occupied” during the Six-Day War in June and calling for the “acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace,” it did not mention Palestine or the Palestinians. Even so, the PLO sought to get access to the UN and UN recognition. A crucial landmark on this road was the address to the UN in New York in November 1974 by Yassir Arafat (1929-2004), a Fatah co-founder in 1959 and from 1969 PLO chairman.

Arafat did not speak at the Security Council, which was and is dominated by its five veto-carrying permanent members Britain, China, France, the United States, and the USSR/Russia. Rather, he addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA), where from the 1960s Third World states were in the majority; his speech was the first time that the UNGA allowed a non-state representative to attend its plenary session. The UNGA invited the PLO after having decided, in September, to begin separate hearings on Palestine (rather than making Palestine part of general Middle Eastern hearings), and after the PLO was internationally recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, a landmark accomplishment for the organization. The UNGA president who introduced Arafat, Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1937-2021), was the Foreign Minister of Algeria, which since its independence in 1962 had supported the Palestinian cause organizationally, militarily, and politically. Arafat spoke in Arabic; the below text is the official UN English translation. Arafat did not write the text all by himself; several PLO officials and Palestinians close to the PLO, including Edward Said, assisted, as Timothy Brennan has noted in Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said (2021). Later in November 1974, the UNGA inter alia decided to give the PLO observer status and affirmed Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

June 13, 1938

Jawaharlal Nehru, 'A Letter from the Mediterranean'

In June 1938 Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), a Indian National Congress (INC) leader, one of the earliest INC members calling for full independence in 1927, and the main responsible for INC’s foreign relations, took a ship to Europe. This trip was not a first for India’s inaugural prime minister (1947-1964) to be. Already in 1905 he had left India to enroll at the elite British boarding school of Harrow, going on to study at Cambridge and work as a lawyer in London before returning home in 1912. And the last time he had sailed was in 1935, staying until 1936 as the INC representative in meetings with fellow Asian and increasingly also African anti-imperialists in Britain and Europe. Sure, by then the League against Imperialism (LAI), whose Comintern-organized foundational conference Nehru had attended in 1927, was defunct. (For the LAI see the 1927 document on Messali Hadj in this collection.) Even so, Nehru continued to see his secularist Indian nation-statist goals within an international leftist-anti-imperialist and now anti-fascist framework and web, as Michele Louro’s Comrades against Imperialism: Nehru, India, and Interwar Internationalism (2020) argues.

Hence, when on the ship en route to Europe in 1938 he received an invitation from Egypt’s leading nationalist wafd party and agreed to meet their leaders. Having been in contact with Egyptian nationalists before, a story told in Noor Khan’s Egyptian-Indian Nationalist Collaboration and the British Empire (2011), and having detailed their anti-imperialism in Glimpses of World History (1934), he saw the wafd as INC’s appropriately leading anti-imperialist counterpart in Egypt. Sure, in confidential INC memoranda, he criticized the wafd’sinsufficient attention to the masses, especially the peasants, which cost them an election in early 1938, he thought; indeed, the wafdistswere liberal nationalists whereas Nehru was a leftist nationalist. Nonetheless, sitting down with the wafd and exchanging views about world politics and anti-imperialist strategies was called for, in his and the wafd’s view,at a time when fascism was rising and Britain continued to rule India and be very present in Egypt. Reproduced in the massive compilation Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, this text is a letter by Nehru, the first to the INC while he was on the ship en route to London.

February 20, 1935

Letter, Bayard Dodge to Edmund E. Day (Excerpts)

In 1866, US Presbyterians who had been working for half a century in the Ottoman city of Beirut founded the Syrian Protestant College (SPC), to compete with Arab and French endeavors in higher education. Chartered in the State of New York, the American University of Beirut (AUB), as the SPC has been called since 1920, came to employ American, European and Arab professors. It soon turned into a foremost institution of higher education for Arab Christians and Muslims alike from Greater Syria (present-day Syria, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan), and especially after World War I attracted more and more students also from other Arabic-speaking countries, a history told in Betty Anderson’s The American University of Beirut: Arab Nationalism and Liberal Education (2011). AUB’s educational quality and missionary institutional bedrock gave it some clout in the United States.

Hence, when the New York-based Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation in 1924 added an international layer to a US-centered social science grant program it had been running since 1922, it in 1925 asked the AUB president, Bayard Dodge, whether his institution would apply for such a grant. AUB did. Making its case in a way that reflected the establishment of League of Nations Mandates in the post-Ottoman Iraq and Greater Syria and the rise of anticolonial nationalisms there, AUB received a US$39,000 grant to develop its social science offerings in 1926-1931, and three additional grants through 1940.

The text published here is a letter written by Bayard Dodge to senior officials in the Rockefeller Foundation. The letter was sent from the AUB office in New York, United States, which Dodge visited periodically.

April 12, 1931

Letter, Bayard Dodge to Thomas B. Appleget (Excerpts)

In 1866, US Presbyterians who had been working for half a century in the Ottoman city of Beirut founded the Syrian Protestant College (SPC), to compete with Arab and French endeavors in higher education. Chartered in the State of New York, the American University of Beirut (AUB), as the SPC has been called since 1920, came to employ American, European and Arab professors. It soon turned into a foremost institution of higher education for Arab Christians and Muslims alike from Greater Syria (present-day Syria, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan), and especially after World War I attracted more and more students also from other Arabic-speaking countries, a history told in Betty Anderson’s The American University of Beirut: Arab Nationalism and Liberal Education (2011). AUB’s educational quality and missionary institutional bedrock gave it some clout in the United States.

Hence, when the New York-based Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation in 1924 added an international layer to a US-centered social science grant program it had been running since 1922, it in 1925 asked the AUB president, Bayard Dodge, whether his institution would apply for such a grant. AUB did. Making its case in a way that reflected the establishment of League of Nations Mandates in the post-Ottoman Iraq and Greater Syria and the rise of anticolonial nationalisms there, AUB received a US$39,000 grant to develop its social science offerings in 1926-1931, and three additional grants through 1940.

The text published here is a letter written by Bayard Dodge to senior officials in the Rockefeller Foundation.

February 1926

Report Submitted by the Faculty of the American University of Beirut [to the Rockefeller Foundation] concerning the Opportunity to train Students for Service in the Near East through Commerce and the Social Sciences (Excerpt)

In 1866, US Presbyterians who had been working for half a century in the Ottoman city of Beirut founded the Syrian Protestant College (SPC), to compete with Arab and French endeavors in higher education. Chartered in the State of New York, the American University of Beirut (AUB), as the SPC has been called since 1920, came to employ American, European and Arab professors. It soon turned into a foremost institution of higher education for Arab Christians and Muslims alike from Greater Syria (present-day Syria, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan), and especially after World War I attracted more and more students also from other Arabic-speaking countries, a history told in Betty Anderson’s The American University of Beirut: Arab Nationalism and Liberal Education (2011). AUB’s educational quality and missionary institutional bedrock gave it some clout in the United States.

Hence, when the New York-based Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation in 1924 added an international layer to a US-centered social science grant program it had been running since 1922, it in 1925 asked the AUB president, Bayard Dodge, whether his institution would apply for such a grant. AUB did. Making its case in a way that reflected the establishment of League of Nations Mandates in the post-Ottoman Iraq and Greater Syria and the rise of anticolonial nationalisms there, AUB received a US$39,000 grant to develop its social science offerings in 1926-1931, and three additional grants through 1940.

The text published here is an excerpt of an initial report by AUB professors to Rockefeller Foundation grant officials.

Pagination