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This statement was originally issued by the Department of State as a mimeographed press release, for publication July 30, 1940. Printed copies are for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., at 5€ a copy.


19 '40





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HE Habana Meeting of Foreign Ministers

of the American Republics faced unprecedented problems and conditions.

Possibilities of danger to the peace, security, and welfare of the continent have been increasingly apparent in recent months and weeks. To meet them successfully it has been clear that the American nations must strengthen further their already strong ties of unity and solidarity and devise a constructive program for implementing, through consultation and cooperative action, effective means of continental protection and defense.

We are confronted in this respect with three sets of problems and conditions:

The first relates to the possible transfer of sovereignty at any time over certain islands and regions from one non-American state to another non-American state.

The second involves the threat of subversive activities in the American nations directed from outside the continent.

The third comprises extremely grave economic difficulties and dislocations resulting from war. With regard to all three of these sets of menacing conditions, the American governments have manifested their full recognition of the dangers which confront them in common and have created machinery for common action. Instead of faltering and abandoning the spirit of unity and concerted steps for safety, 250782-40




they have demonstrated to the world their unalterable determination to preserve strengthen the spirit and the system of conti: nental unity and solidarity. They have thus cleared the decks for effective action whenever such action may become necessary.

The situation with respect to possessions in this hemisphere controlled by European powers for many years has for the first time become most acute by reason of the fact that the European territory of some of these powers is now under military occupation, and there exists the danger that change in sovereignty or control of any of these regions might make them objects of barter or a battleground for the settlement of differences between European na: tions. There also exists the danger that these regions might be used as a base for the carrying on of activities of a subversive character in the American countries.

I cannot too strongly emphasize at this point that at no time has any American nation had the slightest thought of taking advantage of the European situation for the purpose of grabbing territory. Quite the contrary; the thought has been to protect the peace and safety of this continent.

At the beginning of the meeting at Habana there was some difference of view as to the modus operandi for achieving the desired end in relation to the island possessions. In certain quarters there was a feeling that until a transfer of sovereignty or control had actually taken place it would be sufficient to have no more than a general declaration reasserting the principle of solidarity and consultation agreed upon at previous conferences.

On the other hand, there was a strong feeling on the part of other delegations, including that of the United States, that having in mind the situation now obtaining in Europe, the fact that a transfer of sovereignty might be made overnight with or without formality and that

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uctivities in these regions detrimental to the peace and safety of the Americas might be pegun momentarily, it was necessary to formuate at this meeting definite methods of procedure to cope with any situation that might hus arise.

It was realized that provision should be made for prompt action in any emergency ituation and that delay pending later consultation might be disastrous to the maintenance of peace and order in the Western Hemisphere. Happily, such differences of view as at first appeared to exist were reconciled, with he result that the meeting of the foreign minsters has unanimously agreed upon two documents designed to take care of any situation that may arise. These documents consist of (1) a convention and (2) a declaration and resolution referred to as the Act of Habana.

The convention contains definite provisions for the administration of any region which it may be found necessary for the American republics to administer. It has the two-fold purpose of protecting the peace and safety of the American republics and of safeguarding and advancing the interests and welfare of the inhabitants of the region.

The administration, which will be under an "Inter-American Commission of Territorial Administration", is to be provisional in character and is to continue only until such time as the region is in a position to govern itself or is restored to its former status-whenever the latter is compatible with the security of the American republics—whichever of these alternatives shall be found to be the more practicable and just.

The convention condemns all violence, whether under the form of conquest, of stipulations imposed by belligerents in treaties, or by any other process, and states that no transfer or attempt to transfer or to acquire any interest or right in any such region shall be rec

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