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Draft Code of Offenses Against the Peace and Security of Mankind' a statement including acts of aggression and threats thereof as such offenses. After debate of the Report of the International Law Commission, the Sixth Assembly Session, by a small majority, recorded the view that it was "possible and desirable . . . to define aggression by reference to the elements which constitute it." 2

A new debate on the question of definition was held at the Seventh Session of the General Assembly 2 years ago. As requested by the Assembly, the Secretary-General presented a most thorough report discussing the whole question. Various formulas were put forward by the delegations to the Assembly. No general agreement on any formula was reached, and the whole matter was referred to a Special Committee. That Committee, which met in 1953 and whose report. is contained in document A/2638, likewise reached no agreement. The report is a most interesting synthesis of the very conscientious work done by the representatives of the 15 member states selected to serve on the Committee.




In listening to the statements of the distinguished representatives of the Soviet Union, Panama, and Cuba, and to the introductory statements by you, Mr. Chairman, and by the distinguished rapporteur of the Special Committee, we were vividly reminded of the difficulties and pitfalls that lie across the path of efforts to define aggression. The experience of the United Nations in coping with this matter shows that, in repeated attempts, it has not been possible to reach general agreement on any word formula to define the term. When the charter was drafted, the considered judgment of the international community was that it would be wiser not to attempt an a priori paper definition. The United States has not been persuaded of the wisdom of any other course.


There are obvious dangers in a priori paper definitions. A formula may be intended as a complete statement of what constitutes aggression, and yet the formula may fail to include mention of one or more types of conduct which would in fact be aggressive. In this way a potential aggressor would be effectively invited to pursue paths which seemed unwittingly to have been licensed by the community of nations.

A definition of aggression may expressly disclaim to be all-inclusive and complete. Yet it may nevertheless give an emphasis to the

1 Report of the International Law Commission Covering the Work of Its Third Session, 16 May-27 July 1951; General Assembly, Official Records, Sixth Session, Supplement No. 9 (A/1858), pp. 11-14.

2 Res. 599 (VI), Jan. 31, 1952; ibid., Supplement No. 20 (A/2119), pp. 84-85. 3 Ibid.

Report by the Secretary-General, Oct. 3, 1952; U. N. doc. A/2211, pp. 36-43. Res. 688 (VII), Dec. 20, 1952; General Assembly, Official Records, Seventh Session, Supplement No. 20 (A/2361), p. 63.

Ibid., Ninth Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/2638), pp. 13–14.

7 F. García Amador of Cuba.

8 Salah A. Tarazi of Syria.

specified types of conduct which would be unbalanced and perhaps harmful to the general cause of keeping world peace. New events are constantly changing the world we live in; emphasis on one set of elements given properly and truly today may be false in another year.

Some of the suggestions already made in this Committee for a general definition accompanied by a list of examples of acts constituting aggression would necessarily entail emphasis on the acts listed. Who can say with certainty now what acts should be selected for the listing? If, on the other hand, an effort is made to be complete, we have again the problem of inadvertent omissions. The general definition itself would leave still unelaborated such concepts as selfdefense and action inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. It is actually to be feared that the mixed type of definition would carry the disadvantages of both the general type and the enumerative.

The United States has also a certain distrust of setting up a priori categories into which future actions and situations are to be classified as they arise. This seems particularly true where the United Nations Organization is still relatively young and where the law of the United Nations is still in a relatively early stage of development. We have a much larger confidence in the soundness of empirical development of law, with the rules growing out of the actual cases and with any restatements or codifications of law held in abeyance pending an adequate practical experience.

It is also impossible to escape the realization that aggression is not simply the admixture of certain predefined elements in given proportions. To determine the occurrence of aggression is to make a total value judgment on the whole complex of facts and circumstances in an actual situation.

A realization of this led the founders of the United Nations to deal with the problem of aggression not by word formulas but through the living processes of the United Nations political organs. The Security Council was created for the purpose of applying international law standards, including those of the charter, to events in the real world. This is the meaning of article 39, which lays down that "the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security."


Joseph Paul-Boncour, rapporteur of Committee III/3 at San Francisco, had the following to say on this problem:

A more protracted discussion developed in the Committee on the possible insertion in paragraph 2, Section B, Chapter VIII, of the determination of acts of aggression.

Various amendments proposed on this subject recalled the definitions written into a number of treaties concluded before this war but did not claim to specify

all cases of aggression. They proposed a list of eventualities in which intervention by the Council would be automatic. At the same time they would have left to the Council the power to decermine the other cases in which it should likewise intervene.

Although this proposition evoked considerable support, it nevertheless became clear to a majority of the Committee that a preliminary definition of aggression went beyond the possibilities of this Conference and the purpose of the Charter. The progress of the technique of modern warfare renders very difficult the definition of all cases of aggression. It may be noted that, the list of such cases being necessarily incomplete, the Council would have a tendency o consider of less importance the acts not mentioned therein; these omissions would encourage the aggressor to distort the definition or might delay action by the Council. Furthermore, in the other cases listed, automatic action by the Council might bring about a premature application of enforcement measures.

The Committee therefore decided to adhere to the text drawn up at Dumbarton Oaks and to leave to the Council the entire decision as to what consitutes a threat to peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression.

In today's world we must keep in mind that the General Assembly also may have responsibilities with respect to acts of aggression. This was made clear by the resolution "Uniting for Peace" (377 (V)) adopted at the Fifth Session of the Assembly."

Thus, both the General Assembly and the Security Council are in a position where their success in safeguarding international peace and security can be jeopardized by adoption of a definition of aggression. As matters stand under the charter in the absence of a paper definition, there can be no question that, as the Sixth Session of the General Assembly observed in its resolution previously quoted, "the existence of the crime of aggression may be inferred from the circumstances peculiar to each particular case."

There is this year an additional factor which my delegation believes should influence us not to proceed now with the effort to crystallize and harden an abstract definition of aggression. That is the appearance of the term "aggression" in a memorandum submitted by the United Kingdom and France to a subcommittee of the Disarmament Commission on June 11, 1954. The memorandum dealt in part with a prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons and suggested a declaration prohibiting their use "except in defense against aggression." We have noted a Soviet proposal in the First Committee of the present General Assembly to refer this suggestion back to the Disarmament Commission for further study and clarification.3 The Commission will doubtless resume its work and take up again the consideration of matters ranging across the whole field of disarmament, including the joint United Kingdom-France suggestion of June 11 to which I have referred. In these circumstances it seems to my delegation the part of wisdom to refrain here from any action on abstract definitions of aggression which could conceivably prejudice the possible success of negotiations on disarmament.

I have taken some time to review the history of this problem of defining aggression and some of the considerations which seem relevant to the United States delegation because this history and these con

1 Supra, doc. 8.

2 U.N. doc. DC/SC.1/10.

3 U.N. doc. A/2742, Sept. 30, 1954.

siderations all point to a conclusion: no constructive purpose would be served at this time by the preparation of a formula to define aggression. The General Assembly should now consider that it has explored to the limits of usefulness the possibilities of defining aggression by a word formula prepared today for possible applications in the future.1

Human Rights

AUGUST 10, 1948] 2



(Preamble and first 19 articles were revised by the Commission on Human Rights at its April-June 1952 Session)


The States Parties hereto,

CONSIDERING, that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent dignity.

Under Res. 895 (IX) of Dec. 4, 1954 (General Assembly, Official Records, Ninth Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/2890), p. 49), the General Assembly established another Special Committee to meet at United Nations Headquarters in 1956 and to submit at the eleventh session of the Assembly "a detailed report followed by a draft definition of aggression."

2 See A Decade of American Foreign Policy, pp. 1156-1159.

Contrary to the hopes of many delegates at the San Francisco Conference (1945), no "International Bill of Rights" was incorporated into the United Nations Charter. Early General Assembly consideration of the problem, however, led to the establishment of the Commission on Human Rights by the Economic and Social Council. The Commission held its first session in Jan.-Feb. 1947. Within a few months, it had in preparation two documents: (1) "a declaration of general principles," and (2) "a convention or covenant of binding obligations." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly on Aug. 10, 1948. Subsequent sessions of the Commission were devoted to translating the Declaration into convention or covenant form. Differences of opinion within the Commission (1951-1952) led to the preparation of two documents (infra): (1) Draft Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and (2) Draft Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

The ninth session of the Commission (Geneva, Apr.-May 1953) was devoted (1) to further discussion of the draft covenants and (2) to preliminary consideration of three draft resolutions on a "new action program" presented by the United States.

Department of State Bulletin, July 7, 1952, pp. 23-28; Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Eighth Session (14 April to 14 June 1952), Economic and Social Council, Official Records, Fourteenth Session, Supplement No. 4 (E/2256), pp. 46-54. Earlier and later drafts are printed in the various reports of the Commission.

and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, RECOGNIZING that these rights are derived from the inherent dignity of the human person,

RECOGNIZING that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free men enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights,

CONSIDERING the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,

REALIZING that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in this Covenant,

Agree upon the following articles:


Article 1 [Self-Determination]

[The Commission on Human Rights drafted this article at its 1952 Session. The Commission did not have sufficient time to consider whether the provisions of Parts II and IV should apply to this Article 1]

1. All peoples and all nations shall have the right of self-determination, namely, the right freely to determine their political, economic, social and cultural status.

2. All States, including those having responsibility for the administration of non-self-governing and trust territories and those controlling in whatsoever manner the exercise of that right by another people, shall promote the realization of that right in all their territories, and shall respect the maintenance of that right in other States, in conformity with the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

3. The right of the peoples to self-determination shall also include permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence on the grounds of any rights that may be claimed by other States.


Article 2

1. Each State Party hereto undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in this Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

2. Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of

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