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Eire, Finland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Libya, Nepal, Portugal, Viet-Nam.1
We are now approaching a time when in all probability there will be a review of the charter with a view to its possible amendment. Article 109 (3) of the charter provides that a proposal to call such a conference shall be placed on the agenda of the tenth annual session of the General Assembly, i. e., that of 1955, and present indications are that a review conference will be held.
The United States has already indicated that it expects to favor the holding of a review conference.
The Executive welcomes this coordinate action of the Senate in studying the problems which will confront such a conference.
The Executive approaches this conference with an awareness of the desirability of perfecting the charter, but also with a determination not to lose the good that is in the search for something better.
We have not yet taken any firm position with respect to charter amendments. We defer that until we have further advanced our own studies and ascertained the views of our citizenry and Congress and of other nations. In this connection, we do not forget that charter amendments require Senate consent.
Under the circumstances, I shall limit myself to indicating some of the major questions which might be brought before the Charter Review Conference and as to which there should be an educated public opinion.
1. Universality-It is useful that there be an organization which is, generally speaking, universal and whose processes run throughout the world. Otherwise the association takes on the character of an alliance. Of course, universality inevitably means bringing together nations whose governments may strongly disagree. This has disadvantages. But such an organization maintains contacts between potential enemies, affords opportunities to dispel unnecessary misunderstandings, and, as President Eisenhower said in his State of the Union Message on January 7, 1954, it provides "the only real world forum where we have the opportunity for international presentation and rebuttal." This process tends, though slowly, to bring about conformity to a common standard.
It is, of course, unlikely that there will be universality in the complete and literal sense of that word. Unfortunately, there are governments or rulers who do not respect the elemental decencies of international conduct, so that they can properly be brought into the organized family of nations. That is illustrated by the regime which now rules the China mainland.
Even approximate universality does, of course, carry certain disadvantages. There are bound to be differences of opinion which limit effectiveness of action.
Doubtless, at the Charter Review Conference, consideration will be
1 With respect to each of the states mentioned, excepting Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Viet-Nam, favorable membership action was eventually achieved in the General Assembly in its Res. 995 (X), adopted Dec. 14, 1955 (infra p. 337.) 2 Supra, pp. 77-80.
given to these problems of universality or limited membership. It will perhaps be considered whether article 4, to which I referred above, expresses the desirable standards for membership.
In this connection, it should be recalled that articles 5 and 6 permit of suspension and expulsion, although this requires Security Council action, which in turn is subject to veto.
It seems at the present time that most of the members of the United Nations feel that it is better to have even discordant members in the organization rather than to attempt to confine membership to those who hold the same views.
In this connection, it is to be borne in mind that few nations for long share the same views about every matter. Where they do share the same security views, or have regional community, they can organize themselves under article 51 (collective security) or under the provisions of articles 52-54 (regional arrangements).
2. Security-By the charter (article 24) the Security Council is supposed to exercise "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." Can charter changes better enable it to discharge that responsibility? Or must that primary responsibility be left to security organizations, the formation of which is authorized by article 51? Or should greater responsibility be given to the General Assembly, where there is no veto?
In this connection I should note the "Uniting for Peace Resolution" of 1950' which puts the General Assembly in a position to play a decisive role with reference to peace and security in the event that the Security Council is paralyzed by a veto.
3. Security Council-Are the present provisions for membership and voting in the Security Council conducive to its maximum effectiveness? Should the veto power be taken away in respect of questions involving Pacific Settlement of Disputes (chapter VI) and in respect of the Admission of New Members, as recommended by S. R. 239 (80th), the so-called Vandenberg Resolution?? Presumably, the United States would itself hesitate to go much further than this in now surrendering its "veto power."
4. General Assembly Voting-In the General Assembly, each nation has one vote. Is this the best arrangement? If the General Assembly is to assume greater responsibilities, then should there not be some form of weighted voting, so that nations which are themselves unable to assume serious military or financial responsibilities cannot put those responsibilities on other nations? Should there be, in some matters, a combination vote whereby affirmative action requires both a majority of all the members, on the basis of sovereign equality, and also a majority vote, on a weighted basis, which takes into account population, resources, etc.?
5. Armament-Since the charter was adopted, there has been a vast development of possibilities of mass destruction, particularly in terms of atomic energy and nuclear weapons.
As one who was at San Francisco in the spring of 1945, I can say
1 Supra, pp. 187-192.
2 A Decade of American Foreign Policy, p. 197.
with confidence that, had the delegates at San Francisco known we were entering the age of atomic warfare, they would have seen to it that the charter dealt more positively with the problems thus raised. Perhaps consideration should now be given to the creation of a special organ of the United Nations comparable to the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council to deal permanently with the problem of armament which carries so hideous a threat to the hopes of the peoples expressed in the preamble to the charter.
In this connection, I emphasize the President's epoch-making proposal of December 8, 1953,' to the United Nations suggesting the creation of an international atomic-energy agency to receive contributions of normal uranium and fissionable materials and to devise methods whereby this available material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind.
6. International Law-In view of the importance of law as an accepted standard of international conduct, are the charter provisions adequate (article 13 (1) (a))? These call on the General Assembly to initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of encouraging the progress and development of international law and its codification. However, so far little progress has been made. This is a great handicap to world order, because it means that decisions and recommendations of the United Nations are apt to be governed by considerations of political expediency rather than by accepted international law.
In this connection I recall the late Senator Taft's conviction "that in the long run the only way to establish peace is to write a law, agreed to by each of the nations, to govern the relations of such nations with each other and to obtain the covenant of all such nåtions that they will abide by that law and by decisions made thereunder." (A Foreign Policy for Americans, 1951.)
Simultaneous progress on a global scale is presently impeded by a sharp cleavage with reference to the nature of law. Most of the governments of the world regard "law" as man's effort to apply moral principles to human affairs. There is thus an objective standard of justice which can be appealed to. However, one third of the world's population is ruled by those who do not recognize any moral law and look upon human "law" as a means whereby those in power achieve their objectives and destroy their enemies.
7. The foregoing are the more important charter amendment issues which particularly concern the United States. There are doubtless other aspects which are of great concern to other countries. However, I refrain from making any statement about those matters at this time.
It is in my opinion important that the United States should approach this problem of charter review with recognition that the charter as it is can be made to serve well the cause of international peace and justice. The defects in the charter can to a considerable extent be corrected by practices which are permissible under the charter. Already it is accepted practice that if a permanent member
1 Infra, pp. 2841-2843.
of the Security Council abstains from voting, that does not constitute a veto despite the fact that article 27 (3) provides for the "affirmative vote of seven members, including the concurring votes of the permanent members."
I have already referred to the "Uniting for Peace Resolution" which gave the Assembly a vetoless authority in security matters.
It is also necessary to bear in mind that much can be done within the framework of the charter, but without actual dependence upon the procedures of the United Nations itself. I have referred to article 51, which recognizes the right of collective self-defense. This has been extensively used. Many nations having similar security interests have banded together through security pacts. There are the Rio Pact, the North Atlantic Treaty,2 and comparable security arrangements between the United States and other countries in the Western Pacific. The Soviets have also built their own security system with a series of so-called treaties with their satellites.*
Such arrangements operate free of Security Council veto, although self-defense measures are required to be reported to the Security Council.
I have stated some of the problems which will probably be raised in a 1956 Review Conference, without attempting to give categorical answers. That would, I think, be premature for me. Let me repeat, however, that while a Charter Review Conference should be welcomed as a means of strengthening the United Nations, difference of opinion about how to do this should not then be pressed to a point such that the Review Conference would result in undermining the United Nations or disrupting it. The United Nations as it is, is better than no United Nations at all.
It must be borne in mind that, under the present charter, each of the permanent members of the Security Council has a "veto" on amendments which the General Review Conference may propose. The existence of this veto does not mean that the Review Conference is a futility. At San Francisco each of the nations which had joined to draft the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals had a "veto" over changes from these proposals. Nevertheless, they did not exercise that veto as against changes which were clearly reasonable and demanded by world opinion. We can hope that the same conditions will prevail at the prospective Review Conference. We can reasonably make our plans on the working hypothesis that no one nation will, in fact, be able arbitrarily to impose changes or to veto changes.
Let me end by reasserting my continuing faith in the United Nations. I fully share the view expressed by the Senate in its resolution of June 11, 1948, that it is "the policy of the United States to achieve international peace and security through the United Nations."
1 Infra, pp. 789-796.
2 Infra, pp. 812-815.
3 Infra, pp. 873-875, 878-880, 885-886, and 897-898.
See Documents and State Papers, July 1948 (Department of State publication 3171; 1948), pp. 219-249, and ibid., March and April 1949 (publication 3484; 1949), pp. 681-684 and 727.
As President Eisenhower said to the Congress on January 7, 1954, "The United Nations deserves our continued and firm support."
I believe that it lies within our power to advance the great objective of the United Nations provided we are patient, resourceful, and resolute, and inspired by faith that man has the capacity to overcome evil with good.
44. STATEMENT BY THE UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE BEFORE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NOVEMBER 17, 1955 (Excerpts) 2
The proposal to call a general conference to review the charter of the United Nations is the only item on our agenda placed there directly by the charter itself. It is a matter of fundamental concern to us all.
The United States recalls the circumstances in which the framers of the charter at the San Francisco conference in 1945 drew up the provisions of article 109, which places the matter of a review conference on our agenda. Some of the provisions of the charter were accepted at that time in a spirit of generous compromise despite serious misgivings. A number of the smaller member states accepted the charter in its present form on the assumption that after a period of trial they would have an opportunity to reexamine and reassess its provisions. Article 109 was therefore drafted to provide for the automatic placement of the question of a review conference on the agenda of the Tenth Session of the General Assembly. The spirit prevalent at San Francisco resulted in the phrasing of the question in positive terms, and article 109 therefore speaks of inclusion in the agenda of "the proposal to call such a conference." The United States sincerely supported inclusion of article 109 in the charter and considers it a matter of simple fulfillment of an obligation to lend our full support to the calling of a charter review conference.
Governments and peoples of member states in many parts of the world have already contributed much in thought, discussion, and preparatory studies to the problems that might be dealt with at such a conference. The fact that the question of holding a review conference was to come before this Assembly has served as a focus for constructive research and planning.
Within the United States public and official interest in effective implementation by the United Nations of its principles and purposes led to the establishment of a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to advise the Senate and the President with respect to policy on charter review. Over a 2-year period the committee conducted hearings on this subject throughout our land. In Washington, Akron, Milwaukee, Greensboro, and Louisville, in Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Atlanta, in San Francisco, Denver,
1 Laird Bell.
2 Department of State Bulletin, Dec. 5, 1955, pp. 948-951; see also Mr. Bell's statement of Nov. 21, 1955 (ibid., pp. 951-952).
By S. Res. 126, 83d Cong., 1st sess., adopted July 28, 1953.