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

Cablegram UN66o NEW YORK, 8 November 1946, 3.06 p.m.


Assembly 121.

1. The veto was discussed this morning at British Commonwealth meeting presided over by Bevin. A paper prepared by Cadogan at Bevin's request was circulated confidentially to British Commonwealth Representatives. The paper suggested that a possible remedy for misuse of the veto was to seek agreement among the five permanent members on certain rules of conduct. It also made the point that not only the veto but the whole machinery of the Council had been misused and it might be possible to go further and [so] describe the actual manner of handling any matter in the Council. Agreement might therefore be sought among the permanent members:

(a) On the occasions on which it is legitimate to employ the veto (b) On the right of abstention by a permanent member without thereby vetoing a proposal (c) On the necessity for presenting a case in proper form to the Council, and only after other means of settlement have been tried (d) On certain procedure to be followed by the Council in handling a case, and (e) On a definition of a dispute.

2. At the outset Bevin invited comments on the paper but while New Zealand, Canada and South Africa expressed rather vague agreement with its ideas, discussion was turned by Mr. Makin to the question of how the veto case should be handled before the Assembly. Mr.

Makin again drew attention to the Australian resolution [1] and stated that we intended to go ahead. The procedure implied in the Cadogan paper seemed to start at the wrong end. The first stage was for the General Assembly to discuss resolutions before it and to express Assembly's opinion and after the General Assembly had done so it might be expected that permanent members could get together to prepare an answer.

3. Eventually after brief discussion during which no very strong opinions were expressed, it was agreed that Australia would proceed with its own resolution and that if and when he was advised that it was appropriate to do so, Mr. Bevin might sound Mr. Molotov on possibility of agreement among the permanent members regarding the way in which the veto should be exercised and the Security Council should handle cases. In the meantime, Dominions will be able to communicate any views informally to Cadogan to assist in the preparation of any suggestions which Bevin might wish to place before Mr. Molotov in the future.

4. The general outlook is that we will initiate debate by presenting our resolution. The Philippines have already given notice of another resolution on our agenda item proposing amendment of the Charter. The Cubans already have a proposal for constitutional conference but, recognising the impossibility of amendment at the present time, are preparing as a second string proposal for the appointment of a committee of the General Assembly to study the application of Article 27. It is almost certain that before proceeding to any vote, the Chairman will propose the appointment of a subcommittee to study various resolutions and at this stage it could be expected that Cadogan would advise Bevin to attempt to persuade other permanent members to present their own agreed statement. We understand the United States is also working along lines of preparing statement regarding application of the veto. These various possibilities will have to be watched carefully but for the time being we are concentrating on maintaining the initiative by opening the debate and presenting our resolution as instructed and endeavouring to obtain as much support as possible for it.

1 See Document 172.

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