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

Cablegram UN714 NEW YORK, 17 November 1946, 1.07 p.m.


Assembly 169.

1. The debate on the veto is reaching the point where we may have to make some adjustment in order to attain our main objective which we understand to be the taking of measures to ensure that the Security Council works effectively.

2. The Australian opening statement [1] was well received and, following its challenge and lead it gave, several speakers including United States, China, France and United Kingdom have spoken openly acknowledging their own dissatisfaction with way - veto has been used, making various proposals for ameliorating position mainly along lines of (a) working out procedures for peaceful settlement which will avoid taking the vote and (b) providing that voluntary or obligatory abstentions by permanent members will not prevent decisions.

3. The proposals by Cuba and Philippines [2] are certain to be rejected and one of our problems from the beginning has been to extricate our own case from too close an association with their case while not alienating their goodwill.

4. It seems necessary that we should take an early opportunity of again making it clear that our position is not to amend the Charter, but to make the Charter work and that the response by the four great powers is a response to a challenge by the Assembly and is to be subject to Assembly scrutiny and consideration.

5. At the moment, France has taken the lead with a proposal that the Committee, having taken note of various statements should ask the Secretary General to prepare a summary of various suggestions made in debate and postpone the debate on the veto for a few days to allow all delegations and particularly the big five to study these suggestions. This proposal is gaining support including the approval of the United Kingdom, United States [of] America, and China, and of some of our own supporters and we suggest that we should also accept it as part of the response from great powers for which we hoped. The avowed object is that after a few days the big five might return to the Committee with a statement of their views. We had thought of attempting to change the French proposal by asking the Committee to prepare its own list of questions as was done by Dr. Evatt at San Francisco, but see little prospect of support and doubt whether this method would be applicable at this stage.

6. Having regard to all circumstances we would ask for discretion to vary if necessary our existing instructions in following manner. If after adjournment, the big five return satisfactory statement, to withdraw our own resolution and make this statement a basis for further debate in Committee with the view to making it conform as closely as possible to our own views. If the big five do not produce satisfactory statement, then we might revise our resolution to provide as at present for:

(a) expression of Assembly opinion on use of veto and (b) request to permanent members for voluntary limitation of veto with addition of (c) a final recommendation by General Assembly to Security Council to take into account statement of proposals made during Assembly debate when devising its rules of procedure.

7. Our object would be to strengthen members of Security Council in the coming year in actual working out of procedures. We feel it is important at this stage to carry United States and United Kingdom with us as far as possible towards modification of veto in practice.

1 See Document 217.

2 See Document 217, note 4 for Cuba and paragraph 8 for the Philippines.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/5, i]