Hodgson to Makin

Cablegram 500 LONDON, 17 December 1945, 1.15 p.m.


The intense interest and debate on the site of headquarters culminated yesterday in a most dramatic session of conference with the selection of the United States. Protagonists for Europe had fought the question very hard and had used every device and tactic to decoy the vote. We had endeavoured without success to induce them to put up a specific amendment to recommendation that one of the Executive Committee committees report either in favour of Europe or a particular country as against the United States.

Eventually a proposal was submitted yesterday whereby a vote would be taken generally on any country a delegate desired to vote on.

The country receiving the greatest number of votes outside the United States would then be submitted as an amendment. If this was defeated then the vote would finally be taken on recommendation one. The only procedural question at issue at that stage was whether such vote should be by secret ballot. With two speakers for each side I spoke strongly in favour of open ballot in consonance with the views all delegates had already openly and freely expressed and on the grounds it would be bad principle for the United Nations to have a secret ballot on questions of major substance. Further it was a vote not by or for individuals but a vote of governments.

When the open ballot was carried the opponents then called off the whole of the proposal before the Committee. Eventually it was agreed to have a vote on a site in Europe first. I strongly favoured this and put the views that if this was defeated then some members might at least abstain or give a vote to the United States in an endeavour to show to world opinion a great measure of unanimity. This proved to be so in fact for although Europe was defeated by 26 votes to 24 the final vote then gave the requisite two-thirds majority for the United States and this was then made unanimous. Some surprising results were-India voted for Europe and then in the final vote for America. New Zealand voted for Europe and then abstained, coming in for severe criticism right to the last for sitting on the fence. Egypt after speaking for Europe voted against. Discussion will commence on Monday for a specific site in United States. We have some forty invitations with some twenty delegations actually present in London advocating the merits of specific cities.

There will certainly be some support for San Francisco but in an exhaustive ballot I am inclined to the view it may be eliminated towards the end of the vote as the majority of European and Near East states are naturally going for an eastern site and Boston, whose case was splendidly presented to the Sub-Committee, seems a favourite selection for them. Chicago is also receiving considerable support. Hyde Park, seventy miles from New York, the ancestral home of the late President Roosevelt has also come into calculation, and I understand is being supported by the Soviet group. I think Philadelphia and the site in Connecticut is too near New York and Washington.

I appreciate the discretion given me in case San Francisco is eliminated but frankly I have an open mind and would appreciate any views the government may have as soon as possible. [1]


1 An unexpected vote forced by the European group a week later narrowed the choice to a site east of the Mississippi. Hasluck represented Australia on an interim committee established to report on possible sites to the first General Assembly. See cablegram 12628, UN035, dispatched 24 December (in AA : A5954, box 1838).


[AA : A1838 T189(sv), 852/9/1, i]