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172 Australian Government to Addison, Fraser, Mackenzie King, Australian Delegation at United Nations [1], Smuts and Mackay [2]

Cablegrams 367, 263, 13, 295, 97, 370 CANBERRA, 22 October 1946


Your D.933. [3]

1. Australian views on the exercise and purported exercise of the veto are well known to the United Kingdom Government but there is no reference to this in your D.933. Australia took the initiative at San Francisco in trying to limit the veto to questions related to enforcement action. We have throughout the Security Council proceedings maintained our position.

2. We consider our fears expressed at the London Conference and later at San Francisco have proved well founded. We are greatly concerned at the damaging effect on the United Nations which results from the frequent and unjustifiable exercise of the veto in the Security Council.

3. It was for this reason that the Minister for External Affairs arranged while in New York in April for the item on the agenda which stands in Australia's name, of which we assume you are aware. [4]

4. We are glad to learn that according to para. 5 of your telegram under reference you consider yourself free to make suggestions to the Assembly, which we interpret to mean to give general support to a move such as we have initiated.

5. We cannot agree that a satisfactory solution is to be found in defining 'dispute' and 'situation' as you suggest in para 4 (B).

Such rigidity is undesirable and in any case the permanent members would still argue that they retain the right to exercise the veto in the determination of whether a question is procedural or substantive.

6. The purpose of the Australian Agenda item is to promote Assembly discussions with a view to proposing a resolution designed to limit the exercise of the veto to decisions on enforcement action. We shall stress in particular our objections to the use of veto in cases of preliminary investigations before enforcement is contemplated; clear obstruction of majority of Council in Pacific settlement; admission of new members;

determination of whether a matter is procedural or not.

7. Accordingly Australia proposes after debate in the Assembly to move a resolution along the following lines-

The GENERAL ASSEMBLY- Mindful of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and Taking notice of the manner in which the power of veto conferred by Article 27(3) of the Charter has been employed at the proceedings of the Security Council in relation to matters outside Chapter 7 of the Charter, Considers that certain exercises and threatened exercises of such power of veto are not in keeping either with the general principles and purposes of the Charter or with the understanding of the United Nations Conference on International Organisation held at San Francisco, and therefore [5]

Earnestly requests that the permanent Members of the Security Council shall refrain from exercising this power of veto except in cases under Chapter 7 of the Charter.

1 With instruction to 'pass to Cadogan'.

2 With instruction to 'pass to Indian Govt'.

3 Anticipating that the question of the veto was likely to arise at the forthcoming General Assembly meeting, Addison had reported that the U.K. Govt did not support the abolition of the veto through amendment of the U.N. Charter but favoured laying down conditions defining 'dispute' in the rules of procedure of the Security Council.

4 The agenda item stated: 'The application of Article 27 of the Charter (dealing with the method of voting in the Security Council) in the proceedings of the Security Council during 1946, and including the exercise and the purported exercise of the right of veto upon Security Council decisions conferred by Article 27 and the circumstances connected therewith.' 5 In the draft resolution referred to the First Committee on 31 October, this paragraph was changed to: 'Considers that in some instances the use and threatened use of such power of veto have not been in keeping either with the general purposes and principles of the Charter or with the understanding of United Nations Conference on International Organization held at San Francisco, and therefore. . .'

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/5, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History