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

Cablegram UN731 NEW YORK, 19 November 1946,12.34 a.m.


Assembly 186.

The following is the text of a memorandum communicated by Bevin to other permanent members and used in the Big Five talks on veto.

Begins- It must be recognised that the use of the 'veto' in the Security Council in recent months has called forth almost universal criticism from members of the United Nations.

His Majesty's Government themselves are amongst the first to admit the necessity for the maintenance of unanimity amongst the Great Powers. But the manner in which the 'veto' has often been used takes no account of unanimity, and its constant use in this way makes achievement of unanimity all the more difficult.

There can probably be no question of amending the Charter at this stage, but are there not some things that could be done to avoid in practice the situations that have given rise to so much criticism? For instance- (1) The powers possessing the right of 'veto' might agree amongst themselves to consult each other, where possible, before a vote is taken, if their unanimity is required to enable the Council to function effectively.

(2) If there is not unanimity, it might be agreed that the minority of the permanent members, mindful of the fact that they are acting on behalf of all the United Nations, would only exercise the 'veto' where they consider the questions of vital importance to the United Nations as a whole, and they would explain on what grounds they consider this condition to be present.

(3) The permanent members might agree that they will not exercise their 'veto' against a proposal simply because it does not go far enough to satisfy them.

(4) The permanent members might agree to advocate rules of conduct for the Security Council providing that questions are only brought before the Security Council after other means of settlement have been tried and must then be presented in proper form to the Council.

(5) The permanent members might agree to support the establishment of further rules of procedure for the conduct of the Security Council's business, e.g., for the consideration of any question, the Council should appoint Rapporteur, or a Committee of some of its members, to make a further attempt at conciliation before resorting to the final discussion and voting.

(6) it might facilitate the work of the Security Council and ensure that the Charter is properly applied, if a formula could be devised on which all could agree, for the definition of a 'dispute'.

(7) It would be of great advantage if it were possible to provide, per some means that a permanent member could abstain from voting without automatically vetoing the proposal. Similarly, that mere absence of a permanent member should not have the effect of a veto. Ends.

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