229 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN743 NEW YORK, 20 November 1946, 12.56 a.m.

SECRET

Assembly 195. Veto.

1. The following is a summary of proceedings of the Committee meeting referred to in our Assembly 185. [1]

2. Ecuador opposed revision as premature. It suggested that Soviet distrust was due to nations regularly voting against Soviet proposals. It appealed for an attempt to avoid such divisions. It pointed out that the veto could be used against use of regional arrangements for settlement of disputes. It expressed sympathy with the proposal and hoped that use of the veto would be modified by practice.

3. India stated that use of the veto was a reflection of international tension, and appealed to politicians to help reduce the tension. It opposed the Cuban proposal. [2] Considered that the Australian proposal [3] attempted to restrict the area of use of the veto instead of manner of use. It supported French proposal for postponement.

4. South Africa spoke strongly of abuse of the veto by one member.

It emphasised necessity restoration of confidence in the Council which was dangerously near propaganda machine. Disarmament and implementation of national policies must await growth of such confidence. It was imperative that permanent members make suitable declaration which all will honour. It opposed revision of Charter.

5. Costa Rica opposed revision of the Charter.

6. Panama ready to support any practical solution which would bring about improvement by means of compromise within the Council.

7. Bolivia considered revisions of the Charter premature and stated would support, (a) study of means of establishing that procedural matters were in fact settled by simple majority.

(b) creation of a small Committee ad hoc to determine what are procedural matters.

8. Australia, commenting on the Cuban proposal for amendment, agreed that amendment was a long-term solution but pointed to the reality that Charter could not be amended unless five powers agreed. Replying to the Soviet taunt that Australian opposition had weakened we said that our views were unchanged but the situation was different from the situation before signing of the Charter and primary duty now was to make the Charter work.

Immediate issue was to enable the Security Council to work effectively and our resolution earnestly requested permanent members to refrain from use of the veto so that the Council could do what the Charter intended namely to use peaceful methods for settlement of disputes. We would not oppose the French proposal as suggestion was of possible value and convenience for the Committee itself but we stressed understanding that postponement was only for few days and did not prejudice resolutions before the Committee. We also stressed that the end to which the debate must move was a statement by the General Assembly itself and opinion of a group could not be substituted for the opinion of the majority of the Assembly. Further, while the debate had turned towards discussion of methods of working in the Security Council, General Assembly should clearly state the principle that the process of peaceful settlement should not be interrupted or hindered by veto and no purely national interest could run counter to the obligation of the Security Council to apply chapter VI.

9. Cuba agreed with the French proposal and expressed the hope that a better answer than that received to questionnaire at San Francisco might be received.

10. The putting of the French proposal to the vote was interrupted by a statement by Gromyko. He said that the Soviet had expressed categorically its opposition to any amendment of the Charter and was therefore against all proposals. He did not see any reason for adopting the French proposal as the various suggestions and proposals were perfectly clear without further classification or consideration. He would state once more the Soviet view that unanimity of the five permanent members is the backbone of the United Nations very existence.

11. Voting was 38 for postponement 6 against 8(5) [4] abstentions.

Australia abstained.

1 Document 225 2 See Document 217, note 4.

3 See Document 172, paragraph 7.

4 A sign here indicates 'as received'. There were five abstentions.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/5, i]