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Dumbarton Oaks Conversations – 70th Anniversary

Posted On September 21, 2017 | 16:10 pm | by jamesc | Permalink
James N. Carder (September 2014)

 

Opening session of the “Dumbarton Oaks Conversations.” Seated in the Dumbarton Oaks Music Room are the American, British, and Soviet delegations. Dumbarton Oaks Archives (AR.DP.UN.02).

This summer marks the 70th anniversary of what have come to be called the “Dumbarton Oaks Conversations.” Undertaken at the height of the Second World War, these “conversations” were a series of informal meetings among American, British, Russian, and Chinese diplomats on the question of establishing an international organization for maintaining peace and security in the world. They were organized by the U.S. Department of State, using the facilities of Dumbarton Oaks, and were held between August 21 and October 7, 1944. The “Dumbarton Oaks Conversations” would lead directly to the signing of the United Nations charter in San Francisco on June 26, 1945.

These meetings were officially known as the “Washington Conversations on International Peace and Security Organization.” The stated objectives were (1) to maintain international peace and security; (2) to develop friendly relations among nations and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace; (3) to achieve international cooperation in the solution of international economic, social, and other humanitarian problems; and (4) to afford a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the achievement of these common ends. The delegates to the “Dumbarton Oaks Conversations” agreed on a proposal to meet these goals on October 7, 1944. For more information, see Robert C. Hilderbrand, Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

In 2004, the Dumbarton Oaks Archives acquired seven rare pamphlets on the “Dumbarton Oaks Conversations” that had been de-accessioned from the library of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The pamphlets—all but one written in 1944 during the months immediately after the close of the “conversations”—attempted to explain the outcome of the meetings at Dumbarton Oaks to various interested constituents, including the U.S. Senate. The pamphlets offer an interesting glimpse into how these constituents interpreted, agreed with, or objected to the meaning and purpose of the goals voted on in October at Dumbarton Oaks.

The pamphlets are:

Memorandum of the Washington Dinner on The Dumbarton Oaks Proposal “Memorandum of the Washington Dinner on The Dumbarton Oaks Proposal,” National Policy Memoranda Number Thirty-Four (The National Policy Committee, Washington, D.C., 1944). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.051, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization “Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization as submitted by The Dumbarton Oaks Conference, Washington, D.C., 1944” (The Woodrow Wilson Foundation, New York, N.Y., October 9, 1944). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.052, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Dumbarton Oaks, Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization “Dumbarton Oaks, Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization,” Senate, Document No. 245 (United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., November 14, 1944). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.053, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Dumbarton Oaks Documents on International Organization “Dumbarton Oaks Documents on International Organization, Together with Chart and Questions and Answers,” Department of State, Publication 2223 (November 20, 1944). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.054, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Resolution of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals “Resolution of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, Adopted by the Political Committee of the American Labor Conference on International Affairs” (American Labor Conference on International Affairs, New York, N.Y., December 16, 1944). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.055, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Dumbarton Oaks Proposals in comparison with Non-Partisan Council’s Formula “Dumbarton Oaks Proposals in comparison with Non-Partisan Council’s Formula,” Critique No. 4, Non-Partisan Council to Win Peace, Washington, D.C. (December 27, 1944). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.056, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco, An Analysis of the Proposals “Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco, An Analysis of the Proposals together with suggestions for improvements to be made in the drafting of the Charter of a World Security Organization,” Supplement to Fortune (May 1945). Archives, AR.OB.Misc.057, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.