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Hon. THOMAS E. MORGAN, Chairman, Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The Subcommittee on International Organizations hereby submits a report regarding the question of U.N. Charter review, pursuant to a hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 206, held on July 17, 1975. Due to time constraints at the time of the hearing, as well as the complexity of the issues and new developments within the U.N. system, this report is being filed in lieu of reporting House Concurrent Resolution 206.

The subcommittee hopes that the report will be useful to the committee in its consideration of legislation relating to U.S. policy toward the United Nations.

Chairman, Subcommittee on


International Organizations.

The Question of U.N. Charter Review


Changes in membership and alinements in the United Nations have been accompanied by a growing awareness of that organization's weaknesses. Many observers have even voiced concern for the future of the U.N. as an instrument of international peace and cooperation. One product of these fears has been an increasing interest in charter review as a means of revitalizing and improving the United Nations system.

Being a major participant in and financial supporter of the world body, the United States has a natural concern over the issue of charter review. As early as 1953, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 126, creating a special subcommittee to make a "full and complete study" of proposals to amend, revise, or modify the United Nations and its specialized agencies. In the preface to the subcommittee report, Chairman Alexander Wiley noted:1

charter change is not to be viewed lightly. We need expert thinking on the subject. We need that expert thinking tempered by an informed public opinion. The charter is an instrument that was developed over a period of years Just as our Constitution has changed over the years under the impact of court interpretation and practice, so has the United Nations Charter changed. Some parts of the charter have worked well, others have proved useless. Some of the fundamental assumptions upon which the charter was built have not proven accurate in practice.

The impetus for the Senate investigation arose from the U.N Charter itself. Article 109 of the charter provides for the convening of a charter review conference at any time specified by two-thirds of the General Assembly and any seven members of the Security Council. And section 3 of article 109 specified General Assembly consideration of such a conference during the 10th annual meeting (1955) of that body.2

No charter review conference was called by the 1955 session of the General Assembly. But the Assembly did establish a Committee on Arrangements of a Conference for the Purpose of Reviewing the Charter. The Committee was instructed to consider the question of a general conference to review the charter "to be held at an appropriate time." That body met intermittently for several years, the last time in September 1967, when it recommended that it be kept in being in case any member state might request its action. So far there have been no requests.

In 1969 the question of charter review again surfaced, appearing on the Assembly's agenda on the request of Colombia. And in 1970, the

1 Report, Subcommittee on the United Nations Charter, Committee on Foreign Relations. U.S. Senate. 83d Cong., 1st Sess., "Review of the United Nations Charter: A Collection of Documents". Jan. 7, 1954. For the text of chapter XVIII, articles 108 and 109, pertaining to charter amendment and review, see appendix A, p. 9. (1)

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