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

Cablegram UN716 NEW YORK, 17 November 1946, 2.48 p.m.


Assembly 172.


1. Debate on veto continued. Chile opposed the alteration of the
Charter and considered abuse of veto not proven. Expressed
confidence in the Great Powers. We should not promote division
among great powers or between great powers and small powers.

2. Czechoslovakia expressed the intention of voting against all

3. The Lebanon supported the Cuban proposal [1] on grounds that
veto prevents permanent members from being sufficiently objective
and because Charter had other gaps and inconsistencies.

4. China considered the Australian proposal [2] as tantamount to
revision of Charter. Considered that radical change now would not
remedy the lack of unity but would mar the relations between the
Council and the Assembly and between members of Council.

Recommended that Council study its procedure with a view to
developing sound practice and permanent members might modify the
declaration of San Francisco with special attention to defining
the effect of abstention and absence and the placing of items upon
the agenda, removing of such items and determining what is a
situation or a dispute.

5. Brazil strongly supported our proposal and doubted the
necessity or practical effect of attempt to amend Charter.

6. Greece expressed views similar to Brazil.

7. Colombia opposed present revision of Charter. it supported our
contention that veto had not been used in accordance with purposes
and principles of the Charter. Disagreed with the view that we
were attempting to amend Charter. Supported Chinese proposal that
great powers should immediately attempt agreement on basis of
proposals under discussion.

8. French Delegation expressed appreciation of Australian
statement. While opposed to amendment [of] Charter Parodi agreed
that experience in Security Council showed that voting procedures
had considerable effect on the work of the Council. Article 27 [3]
could not be modified without affecting the whole equilibrium of
the Charter but that did not mean that method of the Council's
work should not be modified and he suggested some amelioration in
that direction with the accord of permanent members. Two practical
suggestions which had a chance of acceptance by all five permanent
members were-
(a) avoidance of frequent votes by such means as the appointment
of a rapporteur of a sub-committee of those members least directly
interested to do the preliminary work of reconciling points of
view to ensure that any case brought before the Council was
immediately considered in an atmosphere of conciliation.

(b) To reach an interpretation of Article 27 which would allow the
use of the veto to be optional without in any way diminishing the
power of veto. It should be possible for the great powers to reach
such an interpretation by common declaration. Stressing that it
was necessary to consider carefully various ideas developed during
the course of debate he proposed that Secretary-General should
prepare a report on all the suggestions that had been made and
that discussion should then be postponed for a few days in order
to allow all the members and especially the great powers to
consider these suggestions.

9. From subsequent conversations with Parodi we learned that his
optimism is based on a conversation with Molotov about ten days
ago. His suggestion is gaining support and seems likely to be
adopted although he will refrain from formally proposing it until
close of debate on original resolutions.

10. Canada opposed amendment but requested restrained use of veto.

St Laurent made following points-
(a) Rights and responsibilities of members of Council should be
used on behalf of United Nations as a whole.

(b) Use of veto should be preceded by statement of grounds for

(c) Veto should never be used simply because proposal does not go
far enough.

(d) Council procedure should ensure that no State is judge in its
own cause.

(e) Formal recognition should be given to abstention not amounting
to veto.

(f) Bringing of dispute or situation to Council should be preceded
by written statement indicating how peace endangered and stating
conciliatory steps taken.

(g) Council should settle in early stages of consideration of
dispute or situation whether peace endangered.

(h) If decided that peace endangered Council should undertake
obligation to ensure prompt and effective act.

11. Uruguay opposed amendment, favoured Australian proposal but
considered French proposal should be adopted first.

12. The United Kingdom (Noel-Baker) defended the Australian
approach as carrying out duty of an elected member of the Council
to report to the Assembly on the defects of the Council. He
opposed amendment-
(a) because of regard for Soviet's strong conviction against
(b) as premature, and
(c) as not justified by the facts. He expressed the hope that
Council would be made to work by development of customary
practices. He suggested
(a) Members should try to reach agreement before commencing
Council debates.

(b) Absence and abstention should not amount to veto.

(c) Dispute should be defined and parties to a dispute should not

(d) Should have an agreement to ensure appointment of Commission
of enquiry where facts have to be established.

(e) New rules of procedure should be considered.

He supported the French proposal, but said United Kingdom would
only talk with other permanent members on understanding that
nothing was taken out of hand.

13. Haiti supported Cuban proposal.

14. Egypt supported proposal to define procedural matters and the
effect of absence and abstention.

15. Venezuela supported French proposal. Suggested that permanent
members should draw up rules to clarify and amplify San Francisco

16. Norway in supporting French proposal indicated that veto was
the only safeguard for great powers that no decision was made in
conflict with their vital interests. Only alternative was to leave
the organisation.

17. Denmark stated that the cause of Council's difficulties was
not the veto but political differences. Expressed support of
French or any similar proposal.

18 Committee meets again Monday afternoon when French proposal
will be voted on first. If adopted voting on other resolutions
will be deferred until debate is resumed.

1 See Document 217, note 4.

2 See Document 172, paragraph 7.

3 See Document 217, note 1.

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