Skip to main content

Historical documents

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

Cablegram UN66o NEW YORK, 8 November 1946, 3.06 p.m.


Assembly 121.

1. The veto was discussed this morning at British Commonwealth
meeting presided over by Bevin. A paper prepared by Cadogan at
Bevin's request was circulated confidentially to British
Commonwealth Representatives. The paper suggested that a possible
remedy for misuse of the veto was to seek agreement among the five
permanent members on certain rules of conduct. It also made the
point that not only the veto but the whole machinery of the
Council had been misused and it might be possible to go further
and [so] describe the actual manner of handling any matter in the
Council. Agreement might therefore be sought among the permanent

(a) On the occasions on which it is legitimate to employ the veto
(b) On the right of abstention by a permanent member without
thereby vetoing a proposal
(c) On the necessity for presenting a case in proper form to the
Council, and only after other means of settlement have been tried
(d) On certain procedure to be followed by the Council in handling
a case, and
(e) On a definition of a dispute.

2. At the outset Bevin invited comments on the paper but while New
Zealand, Canada and South Africa expressed rather vague agreement
with its ideas, discussion was turned by Mr. Makin to the question
of how the veto case should be handled before the Assembly. Mr.

Makin again drew attention to the Australian resolution [1] and
stated that we intended to go ahead. The procedure implied in the
Cadogan paper seemed to start at the wrong end. The first stage
was for the General Assembly to discuss resolutions before it and
to express Assembly's opinion and after the General Assembly had
done so it might be expected that permanent members could get
together to prepare an answer.

3. Eventually after brief discussion during which no very strong
opinions were expressed, it was agreed that Australia would
proceed with its own resolution and that if and when he was
advised that it was appropriate to do so, Mr. Bevin might sound
Mr. Molotov on possibility of agreement among the permanent
members regarding the way in which the veto should be exercised
and the Security Council should handle cases. In the meantime,
Dominions will be able to communicate any views informally to
Cadogan to assist in the preparation of any suggestions which
Bevin might wish to place before Mr. Molotov in the future.

4. The general outlook is that we will initiate debate by
presenting our resolution. The Philippines have already given
notice of another resolution on our agenda item proposing
amendment of the Charter. The Cubans already have a proposal for
constitutional conference but, recognising the impossibility of
amendment at the present time, are preparing as a second string
proposal for the appointment of a committee of the General
Assembly to study the application of Article 27. It is almost
certain that before proceeding to any vote, the Chairman will
propose the appointment of a subcommittee to study various
resolutions and at this stage it could be expected that Cadogan
would advise Bevin to attempt to persuade other permanent members
to present their own agreed statement. We understand the United
States is also working along lines of preparing statement
regarding application of the veto. These various possibilities
will have to be watched carefully but for the time being we are
concentrating on maintaining the initiative by opening the debate
and presenting our resolution as instructed and endeavouring to
obtain as much support as possible for it.

1 See Document 172.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/5, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top