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speed of action of the Security Council and increases the difficulties in the way of adopting a clear-cut decision. It may even prevent action which might peacefully settle a dispute.
On the other hand, the unanimity requirement tends to discourage the taking of intransigent positions and to encourage the achievement of agreement through compromise. Certainty is better than speed. In the long run important decisions unanimously accepted by the permanent members are likely to produce better results than decisions which find the permanent members divided. The unanimity requirement-properly applied-prevents the Security Council from being progressively committed to a course of action inconsistent with the vital interests of any permanent member.
It was these latter considerations-among others—that prevailed at San Francisco. In the Four-Power statement of June 7, 1945, to which France later agreed, the permanent members took the position that substantive decisions on peaceful settlement require the concurrence of the permanent members of the Council because of the possible consequences of those decisions. It was believed they might have major political repercussions and might initiate a chain of events which in the end would require the Security Council to invoke measures of enforcement under chapter VII.
It was held that since the Council cannot take enforcement action without the concurrence of all the permanent members, it might endanger the effectiveness of the Council's work, if decisions under chapter VI that might lead to the necessity for enforcement action under chapter VII were taken by a vote which found the permanent members divided.
Despite the attitude of the five powers and the decisions made at San Francisco, which I have described, the United States hopes that the five permanent members may find it desirable at some time in the future, in full agreement among themselves and with other members, to support modification of the unanimity requirement in its application to matters arising under chapter VI.
However, a case for amendment of the Charter ought not be made on the basis of so brief an experience. The United States is opposed to amendment of article 27 of the Charter at this time.
We must recognize that during its first nine months the Security Council has labored under unusually difficult circumstances. In its infancy, before it had established its rules and its precedents, the Council was forced to consider substantial differences among the permanent members about problems arising directly from the war.
We must remember that the Security Council—and the United Nations as a whole—was not intended to deal with the peace settlements that must be made as a result of the war. These settlements, both with
the ex-enemy states and among the major allies themselves, were left to separate negotiation. Until they have been made, differences among the major allies about the terms of settlement inevitably will handicap the work of the Security Council. As these settlements are made, we can expect that the areas of present disagreement among the permanent members will be greatly reduced.
The United States does recognize that there is room for improvement in the operations of the Security Council. There is room for improvement in the application of article 27 and of the Four-Power statement in the Security Council. There can be little doubt that a number of the difficulties which have arisen could have been avoided if the voting formula adopted at San Francisco had been more fully and clearly defined.
There has been confusion and misunderstanding both within and without the Security Council.
Necessary action by the Council for the peaceful settlement of a dispute should never be prevented by the votes of any one or any number of its members, permanent or non-permanent. In this connection, we should not forget that the non-permanent members possess six votes in the Council and that at least two of these votes are always necessary to action by the Council.
Restraint and self-discipline to avoid doing anything contrary to the letter or spirit of the Charter are essential in the application of the voting formula. This is one of the greatest challenges to conduct if we are to give strength to the United Nations for
peace. A program of interpretation and application of the voting principles which will facilitate and not hinder peaceful settlements should be pursued. Here is where clarification through discussions, definition, and regulation and practice are necessary to carry out the spirit as well as the letter of the Charter. This is a United States policy.
We would not have today the laws and the institutions of the United Nations without the unanimous agreement of the Great Powers and the general agreement of all nations. We must continue that unity.
As they stand these laws and institutions offer in their entirety far greater possibilities for the establishment of a just and lasting peace than humanity has ever known before.
We have hardly begun to explore and to exploit these possibilities. That they are virtually limitless can be perceived the moment we stand back far enough to get perspective.
The Charter and the institutions of the United Nations reflect the greatest common denominator of agreement now realizable in a world of sovereign states, with differences in ideology, political and economic systems, and cultural and social traditions.
Science and technology are uniting the world as it has never been united before. Fears and suspicions must not continue to divide the peoples of the world. We must use the institutions and laws of the United Nations to banish these fears and suspicions. So far as we succeed in doing this we shall succeed in creating a world society and a world rule of law in which the veto will wither away.
This may take a long time. But there is no short-cut, no magic formula, by which we can escape the price of peace.
Only by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles will we give to the Charter a living spirit in the moral sense of nations and of the human race.
4. Address by Secretary of State James F. Byrnes
to the General Assembly, December 13, 1946
The United States supports wholeheartedly the proposed resolutions. I first wish to congratulate the members of the Committee by reconciling their differences and reporting the resolutions. They have made a splendid contribution to the cause of peace. I have learned too of the splendid assistance rendered the Committee by the accomplished President of the Assembly, and I know you will all join me in expressing appreciation of the efforts of the distinguished representative of Belgium, Mr. Spaak.
Ever since the close of hostilities, it has been the policy of the United States to hasten the return of conditions of peace. We want to enable the fighting men of the United Nations to return to their homes and their families. We want to give the people of all lands the chance to rebuild what the war has destroyed. There need be no concern about the willingness of the American people to do everything within their power to rid themselves and the world of the burden of excessive armaments.
In the recent past, the concern of peace-loving nations has not been that America maintained excessive armaments. The concern has been that America failed to maintain adequate armaments to guard the peace. When Hitler started the world war in September 1939, Germany had been preparing for war for more than five years. But at that time, there were in active service of the United States in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, only 330,000 men. It was our military weakness, not our military strength, that encouraged Axis aggression.
After the first World War, Japan was given a mandate over strategically important islands in the Southwest Pacific which bound her to keep those islands demilitarized. Although the evidence showed that Japan was violating the terms of the mandate, the United States delayed in building bases on islands under her sovereignty in the Pacific. The result was that when the United States was treacherously attacked at Pearl Harbor, she had no adequately fortified base in the Pacific between Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. Japan's covenant not to use the mandated territories as military bases contained no safeguards to insure compliance. Japan's covenant misled the United States, but it did not restrain Japan. That was our mistake, and we do not intend again to make that mistake.
While before the second World War the peace-loving nations were seeking peace through disarmament, aggressor nations were building up their armaments. And all the while aggressor nations were building up armaments, they were claiming that they were being smothered and encircled by other nations. While we scrapped battleships, Japan scrapped blueprints. While we reduced our Army to the size of a large police force, Germany trained its youth for war.
Too late, those who had taken a leading part in the struggle for general disarmament before the second World War discovered that Axis agents were deliberately organizing and supporting disarmament movements in non-Axis countries in order to render those countries powerless to resist their aggression. Too late, those who had taken a leading part in the struggle for general disarmament discovered that it was not safe to rely upon any disarmament which is not collectively enforced and made a part of a system of collective security. It will take time, patience, and good will to achieve really effective disarmament. The difficulties are great and the complexities many. The defense needs of states vary greatly. The elements which make up the military strength of states likewise vary greatly and cannot readily be compared or appraised.
Effective disarmament cannot be secured by any simple mathematical rule. Demobilized divisions can be speedily recalled to the colors. But a scrapped plane or a scrapped battleship can never be recommissioned. Disarmament, to be effective, must look to the future. It is easy for us to see what folly it would have been when gunpowder was discovered, to start disarming by limiting the use of the bow and arrow.
We must see to it that disarmament starts with the major weapons of mass destruction. We must see to it that disarmament is general and not unilateral. We must see to it that disarmament rests not upon general promises which are kept by some states and ignored by other states. We must see to it that disarmament is accompanied by effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means under international control which will protect complying states against the hazards of violations and evasions.
We must see to it that these safeguards are so clear and explicit that there will be no question of the right of complying states, veto or no veto, to take immediate action in defense of the rule of law. No disarmament system which leaves law-abiding states weak and helpless in the face of aggression can ever contribute to world peace and security.
But in meeting the problems of disarmament, first things should come first. The first task which must be undertaken is the control of atomic energy to insure that it will be used only for human welfare