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

Cablegram UN706 NEW YORK, 15 November 1946, 11 p.m.


Assembly 162.


1. The second day of veto debate opened with forceful and helpful
speech by Connally (United States), who emphasised the special
responsibility of permanent members as trustees for all members to
make the Charter work. He suggested that the Security Council
should settle all possible doubts by defining procedural matters.

He opposed the amendment of the Charter as at present impossible
but considered Assembly could consider broad outlines of what is
attainable. In that respect Australian proposal [1] was moderate
as it did not go beyond recommendations for consideration by
permanent members.

2. He summarised his main points as follows:-

a. We regard the principle of unanimity as of the highest
importance for the success of the United Nations.

b. We believe that the responsibility imposed upon the great
powers by the Charter requires them to exert every effort to reach
agreement on important issues before the Security Council.

c. We reaffirm the position we took at San Francisco that the veto
should be used only in the very rare and exceptional cases.

d We insist that the use of the veto cannot relieve any state from
its fundamental obligations under the Charter.

e. We do not favour amendment of the Charter at this time,
although we hope that full agreement including of course that of
the five permanent members may make it possible in the future to
modify the practice of great power unanimity as it applies to the
peaceful settlement of disputes under Chapter VI.

f. We believe that the voting formula should be clarified in the
light of experience and practical need. The Security Council
should embark upon this task at the earliest practicable time.

g. In particular, we believe that the Security Council should
agree upon as complete a list as possible of the types of
decisions where the veto does not apply.

h. We believe that Article 27 makes it clear within the field of
peaceful settlement no state be a judge in its own cause.

i. The problem of great power abstention should be carefully
considered, particularly with respect to the peaceful settlement
of disputes.

3. In strong peroration Connally insisted that United Nations must
succeed other-wise public opinion will seek another remedy.

4. Vyshinsky delivered a lengthy attack on the three proposals [2]
before the Committee with special and repeated reference to
Australian proposal. He referred to the 'three countries assuming
the ungrateful initiative of attacking the organisation' and
referred to 'shouts and brutal epithets' and 'vulgar criticism'
used by various countries. He laid emphasis on Roosevelt
originating the principle of unanimity and that nothing offered to
take its place. Australia and Cuba were champions of the campaign
which the newspapers had called 'the struggle of small nations
against the great'. 'If it was so the Assembly should be closed as
soon as possible. 'He continued-'it has already become the
tradition of the Australian Delegation systematically to attack
the four powers and the Soviet in particular concerning any
proposal made. At the Paris Conference it attempted to do so and
has tried in all committees to frustrate the Soviet. There were
cut out points of Australian Delegation at Paris which were
rejected. It moved behind the scenes feeling that its proposals
would compromise the Soviet. We all know the fate of the
Delegation at Paris'.

5. Pretending to see the weakening of our attack on the veto and a
lack of consistency, Vyshinsky said Evatt in an article in 1945
had announced that the great powers must have the power of veto in
the Security Council. Later Dr. Evatt had supported the principle
of unanimity though recognising that some change was necessary.

6. Vyshinsky proceeded to analyse our statement and justify use of
veto in Syrian-Lebanon and Spanish affairs as having been used
courageously by Soviet in defence of the rights of weak and
oppressed in spite of Australia and others.

7. He concluded with general attack on proposals as masked attempt
to break up the great powers. He finally appealed for agreement
and mutual trust between the five great powers.

8. Peru stated that revision of the Charter was premature as
political as opposed to juridical reasons for the existence of the
veto still persisted. The statement that the amendment of the
Charter would threaten its existence imposes an obligation on us
to be prudent so as not to open the door for possible evasion of
obligations of Charter. The use of veto should be restricted to
cases in which the security of great powers was involved.

9. Yugoslavia attacked the three proposals as anti-Soviet and
aimed at sabotaging peace in interests of reactionary forces,
which aimed at dividing the world into two groups. Referred to
Australian proposal as striving to undermine Security Council and
referred to our attempts at Paris in supporting small powers to
impose our will on others to cause delay and to destroy unanimity.

10. Netherlands Delegation spoke firmly along our own line and
stated that it would support the reasonable and moderate
Australian proposal.

11. Press requested comment from us on Vyshinsky's attack but we
passed it off as just another speech in his customary style and
pointed out that the real issue was not action in Spain as he had
alleged but the fact that the Soviet being in the minority of one
had prevented majority of ten from taking action.

1 See Document 172, paragraph 7.

2 The other proposals under consideration were those of Cuba (see
Document 217, note 4) and the Philippines (see Document 217,
paragraph 8).

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