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

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


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

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