144 Dixon to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 431 WASHINGTON, 11 May 1944, 5.40 p.m.


From Dixon.

I.L.O. Conference and Article Seven Discussions.

Having learned yesterday morning 10th May of the developments of the previous evening at Philadelphia [1] and that Mr. Beasley thought we might be able to assist, particularly by finding who in the State Department was responsible for restraining the American Delegation from agreeing, I saw Dean Acheson. [2]

From him I ascertained- (1) That there had been a Conference or discussion of the question with Mr. Hull by several officers.

(2) That it was thought to be out of the question for United States of America to contemplate undertaking an obligation such as that proposed, requiring economic measures of exact nature, extent and consequences of which they could not foresee.

(3) That there was a definite objection to the I.L.O. itself summoning an initial Conference.

(4) That Adolf Berle was the Assistant Secretary in charge of the matter.

I communicated this information to Mr. Beasley and with his approval in the afternoon I took the matter up with Mr. Berle. The latter said that until, as I understood him, the Monday he had not been informed of exactly what was proposed. He had felt that the effect of undertaking an International obligation had not been appreciated. Apart altogether from the position of the Senate an obligation framed in the suggested terms could not be undertaken by the American Government and he would think it surprising if other Governments would commit themselves internationally to economic measures of the kind described in whatever conditions might prevail though it was true that in one case they would be bound only to 'consider' the course indicated by the provision. He then referred to the proposal that the I.L.O. should call a conference and said that though he supported the I.L.O. it was felt that this was going beyond its province.

I put before him the position in which the late intervention of the State Department had placed Mr. Beasley and pointed out how the Australia Delegation had been led by the American Delegation into a course which the State Department had now disavowed and suggested that some compromise would be still possible except for the fetters placed on their Delegation. At the length after discussion Mr. Berle said he would go up to Philadelphia first thing this morning to see if he could produce a more satisfactory result. I learn that he in fact has gone there this morning.

1 See Document 142.

2 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State.

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