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The International Conference on Laos and the Geneva Agreement of 1962

  • John J. Czyzak and Carl F. Salans

On July 23, 1962, the International Conference on the Settlement of the Laotian Question in Geneva came to a close with the formal signature of a Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos and a Protocol to the Declaration. The Conference had been in session for over a year; fourteen governments participated, and all of them became parties to the agreements reached.

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1. For texts see 47 Dept. of State Bulletin 259 (1962); or LAOS/DOC/53 and LAOS/DOC/54. References to LAOS/DOC— are to the official “documents” series issued by the Conference.

No official verbatim records were kept of the debates in the plenary or restricted meetings of the Conference. The Conference did issue an official “statement” series (LAOS/STA/—), consisting of prepared speeches delivered in the plenary sessions. It also kept official records of the decisions reached at each restricted meeting (LAOS/RECORD/— series), which included a record of items on which it was not possible to reach agreement. The Conference also issued an official “decisions” series (LAOS/DEC/—).

2. Participants were Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, France, Laos, the USSR, the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, and the Republic of Viet-Nam (all parties to the 1954 Geneva Accords), plus Canada, India and Poland (members of the International Commission for Supervision and Control in Laos established by the 1954 Accords), plus the United States, Burma and Thailand as interested parties. The presence of all these parties, for political, military or geographic reasons, was considered desirable and even necessary if a completely satisfactory settlement of the Laotian question was to be achieved.

3. An international conference was held at Geneva from April 26 to July 21, 1954, to bring an end to the hostilities in Indochina. The Conference produced the 1954 Geneva Accords, consisting of a Final Declaration of the Conference, several unilateral declarations by participants in the Conference, and three armistice agreements relating respectively to Cambodia, Laos, and Viet-Nam. “Further Documents relating to the discussion of Indochina at the Geneva Conference, “Cmd. No. 9239 (1954); or Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 83rd Cong, 2d Sess, “Report on Indochina” (Committee Print, 1954). The United States, while participating in the 1954 Geneva Conference, did not become a party to the Accords. See 1 American Foreign Policy 1950–1955, pp. 787–788.

4. For texts of the Vientiane Agreements, sec Fourth Interim Report of the International Commission for Supervision and Control in Laos, Cmnd. No. 541 (1958).

5. New York Times, April 25, 1961, p. 16; cols 1–3.

6. The Commission consisted of representatives of the governments of Canada, India, and Poland, with the representative of India as Chairman. It was responsible for supervising the execution by the parties of the 1954 Geneva Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Laos.

7. 44 Dept. of State Bulletin 999 (1961).

8. At its first meeting, the Conference decided that the representatives of the United Kingdom and the USSR should act as Co-Chairmen of the Conference (LAOS/DOC/1).

9. On May 17, 1961, the USSR tabled a draft declaration on the neutrality of Laos (LAOS/DOC/4), and a draft protocol on the withdrawal of foreign troops and military personnel from Laos and on the terms of reference for the International Control Commission (LAOS/DOC/5). France, on May 23, 1961, submitted a draft declaration to be made by the Royal Laotian Government and a draft declaration of the 13 other Powers in reply thereto (LAOS/DOC/7), which, on July 27, 1961 was revised (LAOS/DOC/7/Rev. 1). On June 6, 1961, the French Delegation tabled a draft protocol on control (LAOS/DOC/11). The United States, on June 26, 1961. submitted ten draft articles as a supplement to the French draft protocol (LAOS/DOC/17). On July 13, 1961 India submitted a draft neutrality declaration (LAOS/DOC/23) and on the following day tabled a draft protocol (LAOS/DOC/24).

10. LAOS. DOC/5.

11. See note 9 above.

12. LAOS/DOC/27/Add. 1.

13. The Conference established two drafting committees. One, composed of representatives of the People's Republic of China, France, India, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, was appointed to draft texts for the Declaration on Neutrality. The other was to draft texts for the Protocol, and consisted of the same members as above, plus representatives of Canada, Poland and the United States. Other interested Conference participants were permitted to attend drafting committee meetings as observers and express their views. The British and Soviet members served alternately as chairmen of the committees.

14. See note 12.

15. LAOS/DOC/7.

16. LAOS/DOC/18.

17. The Conference had decided that the Neutrality Declaration should consist of two parts, a Statement of Neutrality by the Government of Laos, and a responsive 13-Power Declaration on Neutrality (LAOS/RECORD/39).

18. The draft declaration was contained in LAOS/DOC/38 and the draft protocol in LAOS/DOC/34.

19. LAOS/DOC/50.

20. See preamble to the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos.

21. Par. 5 of the Declaration provides: “The present Declaration ‥… together with the statement of neutrality by the Royal Government of Laos of July 9, 1962 shall be regarded as constituting an international agreement”.

22. Support for this view may be found in 1 Oppenheim International Law 146–147 (8th ed., Lauterpacht, 1955), and 1 Hackworth, Digest of International Law 346–354.

23. LAOS/STA/2.

24. LAOS/STA/113.

25. LAOS/STA/125.

26. See preamble to Statement of Neutrality by the Royal Lao Government contained in the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos (hereinafter referred to as the “Statement”).

27. Par. (1) of the Statement.

28. Par. (3) ibid.

29. Par. (5) ibid.

30. Par. (4) ibid. For a fuller discussion of these latter two undertaking, see below. See also note 45.

31. Par. 1 of the 12-Power responsive declaration contained in the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos (hereinafter referred to as the “responsive declaration”).

32. Par. 2 (a) of the responsive declaration.

33. Par. 2 (c) ibid.

34. Par. 2 (d) ibid.

35. Par. 2 (e) ibid.

36. Par. 2 (c) ibid.

37. Par. 2 (f) ibid., and see discussion below.

38. Par. 2 (h) of the responsive declaration.

39. Par. 2 (i) ibid., and see discussion below.

40. Par. 2 (j) of the responsive declaration.

41. Par. 4 ibid.

42. Item A-13 on List of Questions for Discussion at the Conference (LAOS/DOC/27/Add. 1, July 25, 1961).

43. Par. (4) of the Statement of Neutrality.

44. See note 9 above.

45. 6 U.S. Treaties 81; T.I.A.S., No.3170; 209 U.N. Treaty Series 28. While Laos was not a party to the treaty, the protection afforded by the treaty was in effect extended to Laos pursuant to Art. IV, par. I, which permitted such extension to “any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate…’ In the accompanying protocol to the treaty, the parties unanimously designated Cambodia, Laos and South Viet-Nam.

46. See note 16 and discussion above.

47. LAOS/DOC/50.

48. See Arts. 2 and 3 of the Protocol.

49. See Art. 4 ibid.

50. See Art. 5 ibid.

51. See Art. 6 ibid.

52. See Art. 7 ibid.

53. See Art.8 ibid, and discussion below.

54. See Arts. 9–17 of the Protocol and discussion below.

55. LAOS/DOCsol;5.

56. For further ramifications of this provision see par. 2 (b) below.

57. LAOS/DOC/17/Rev. 1, Art. 13.

58. LAOS/DOC/5, Art. 3.

59. LAOS/DOC/5, Art. 8.

60. 26th Restricted Meeting, Aug. 24, 1961.

61. See note 9 above.

62. Ibid.

63. 14th Restricted Meeting, Aug. 8, 1961.

64. Ibid.

65. LAOS/STA/59.

66. LAOS/STA/113.

67. For a discussion of the peace-keeping problem in connection with the Geneva Disarmament Conference, see the article by Neidle, Alan F. in 57 A.J.I.L. 4672 (1963).

* Mr. Czyzak was legal adviser to the United States Delegation to the Laos Conference. The authors express their appreciation to Katerine F. Lincoln, member of the United States Delegation to the Laos Conference, whose research into the records of the Conference proved invaluable in the preparation of this article. The views expressed herein should not be attributed to the Department of State. This article, first published in and copywrighted by the American Journal of International Law, is reprinted with permission.

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Journal of Southeast Asian History
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