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111 Cablegram From Spender to Menzies

Cablegram, Washington, 9 August 1951

1413. Tripartite Security Treaty and Japanese Peace Treaty. My 1412.[1]

Rusk took the initiative in raising the subject of the signature of the Tripartite Security Treaty. He said he wished to see this Treaty well launched with adequate publicity and that he would be keeping in close touch with me concerning arrangements at San Francisco.

[matter omitted]

4. In conclusion Rusk referred to the political difficulties of the Philippines and said that, if a formal security treaty between the Philippines and the U.S. would relieve the situation in the Philippines with regard to the Peace Treaty, the U.S. would be prepared to negotiate such a treaty. Nevertheless the U.S. still regarded existing arrangements with the Philippines as satisfactory and did not consider a formal treaty to be necessary. Rusk thought that discussions with the Philippines about a formal treaty would start soon and said any agreement with the Philippines would be along the lines of the Tripartite Security Treaty with Australia and New Zealand. Rusk was aware of our conversation with Melby (my 1378)[2] but said that, whilst he could not give me a firm assurance that the treaty with the Philippines would not go further than our own, he did not think it would. My impression is that negotiations are already under way.[3]

I suggested to Rusk that it would be most undesirable from many points of view if the Philippines were, because of their tactics, to achieve a firmer guarantee than that provided to Australia and New Zealand. Rusk saw the point in this remark. He said he would keep me informed of developments.

5. One danger which I see in a Security Treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines similar to our own is in connexion with ratification of the treaties. It is not impossible that, if the treaties were virtually identical, Senate might suggest or insist that our tripartite treaty and the bilateral treaty with the Philippines be combined and ratified as a single treaty.

1 1413 covered Spender's discussions with Rusk on Korea.

2 3 August. It reported a conversation with John F. Melby, Office of South East Asian Affairs, Department of State. Melby said that negotiations between the United States and the Philippines about a formal security treaty had not begun and considered that, if one were negotiated, it would not go beyond the terms of the tripartite Security Treaty and 'would not provide for a council or for consultation'.

3 Cablegram 1419 (10 August) reported an informal conversation between Spender and Dulles on that afternoon. Spender indicated that he was satisfied that preliminary discussions between the United States and the Philippines on the matter had already begun. He reported that the Philippines had apparently suggested that it might simply adhere to the tripartite Treaty. This, the United States had discouraged, suggesting a bilateral treaty with the Philippines would not be more favourable than the tripartite Security Treaty; (2) that the security clauses would be the same as in the Treaty; and (3) that a council would not be established.


On 16 August 1951 the Governments of the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America announced that they had agreed to execute a mutual defence treaty in connection with their conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan. They noted that the mutuality of interest of the Philippines and the United States in matters relating to the defence of their respective territories had been stated in the Bases agreement of 1947 and the Military Assistance agreement of 1947 and that Truman, in public utterances, had emphasised that the United States would not tolerate an attack on the Philippines. They added that 'it now seems appropriate, as part of the growing treaty fabric of peace in the Pacific, to embody these commitments in a formal treaty of mutual defense'.[2]

The preamble to the treaty reads:

'The Parties to the treaty, Reaffirming their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all Governments, and desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace in the Pacific Area,
Recalling with mutual pride the historic relationship which brought their two peoples together in a common bond of sympathy and mutual ideals to fight side-by-side against imperialist aggression during the last war,
Desiring to declare publicly and formally their sense of unity and their common determination to defend themselves against external armed attack, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the Pacific Area,
Desiring further to strengthen their present efforts for collective defence for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific Area,
Agreeing that nothing in the present instrument shall be considered or interpreted as in any way or sense altering or diminishing any existing agreements or understandings between the United States and the Philippines,
Therefore declare and agree as follows' [then follows the text of the Treaty].

Articles I, II, IV, V, VI, are the same as those of the Security Treaty between Australia and New Zealand (Document 105) and the text of Article IX of the former is the same as the text of Article XI in the latter. Article II of the Treaty with the Philippines reads:

'The Parties through their Foreign Ministers or their deputies will consult together from time to time regarding the implementation of the Treaty and whenever in the opinion of either of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either of the Parties is threatened by external armed attack in the Pacific'.

Article VII of the Treaty with the Philippines reads:

'The Treaty shall be ratified by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Government of the Philippines. The Treaty shall enter into force as soon as the ratifications of the signatories have been deposited'.

Article VIII reads:

'The treaty shall remain in force indefinitely. Either Party may terminate it one year after notice has been given to the other Party'.

On 30 August 1951, with Presidents Quirino and Truman in attendance, representatives of the United States and the Philippines concluded The Mutual Defence Treaty between the two countries. President Truman ratified the Treaty for the United States on 15 April 1952, after the United States Senate had given its advice and consent to ratification on 30 March 1952.

1 The text of the Treaty is given in Current Notes, vol. 22, 1951, pp. 501-2.

2 Department of State Bulletin, vol. XXV, 1951, p. 335.

[NAA: AA1984/25, 1951, iv]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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