Cablegram UN700 NEW YORK, 15 November 1946, 3 a.m.
In conformity with instructions in your UNY334 we opened Veto
debate in Committee 1 this morning. After recalling Dr. Evatt's
stand at San Francisco and having stressed his view that
conciliation and settlement should not be regarded as a power of
the Security Council but as a duty, we stated that Article 27 
not only conferred upon permanent members an exceptional privilege
it also laid on them an exceptional obligation. Australia was not
seeking amendment of Charter, but placed before Committee the
question whether great powers were carrying out the obligations
which they assumed when they insisted on the adoption of that
Article, and which they reaffirmed when they refused to admit any
amendment of Article 27. Had the confidence which we were asked to
repose in the great powers been justified? Our immediate concern
was to make the Charter work and particularly to ensure that the
Security Council becomes an effective instrument for peace and
security. The immediate problem to which we were asking Assembly
to address itself was the problem of ensuring that the Security
Council did work.
2. We then reviewed all applications and threatened applications
of veto during past year to supporting following three
(a) That spirit of the Charter has not been observed, the veto has
been applied in ways in which the San Francisco conference never
intended it should be applied, and it has been used in a way
contrary to the assurances given by the great powers at San
(b) The excessive claims made for the use of the veto have
stultified the work of the Security Council and have undermined
confidence in it and lessened the Council's ability to deal
effectively with the matters brought before it.
(c) By employing the veto as an instrument of national policy, a
permanent member, by so acting, has forgotten its representative
capacity and its obligation under the Charter to act on behalf of
all other members.
3. We illustrated the first of these propositions by reference to
occasions on which veto had been used for minor matters not
involving the ,chain of events' to which sponsoring powers'
statement had referred.  We claimed that these, plus veto on
admission of members showed that a permanent member has used its
veto power wilfully to obstruct actions by the Security Council.
In support of second proposition we said that, from the first
moment a motion was brought to the attention of the Security
Council, the possibility of veto like a shadow over our work. In
support of third proposition we re-stated the clear terms of
Article 24 , and asked whether when Soviet representative
exercised veto in cases described, he acted solely to advance the
national policy of his own country or was mindful of fact that the
Soviet was on the Council to act on behalf of all other nations.
4. We suggested that so long as the great powers were unwilling to
permit any amendment of the charter, the only hope for making the
Council work was in taking steps such as the following-
(a) Moderation on the part of permanent members in the exercise of
their right of veto.
(b) An increased measure of consultation and a spirit of give and
take among permanent members themselves in an endeavour to achieve
that measure of great power unanimity which is necessary for the
smooth working of the Security Council and which they themselves
are pledged to devote to the purpose and principles of the United
(c) A development by the Security Council of recognised procedures
which will enable it to discharge its duties under Chapter VI in a
uniform way without the necessity of taking repeated votes at each
stage in the process of conciliation or settlement and thus
placing a recurrent strain on the principle of unanimity. Council
should be able to go about its work in an orderly way without the
necessity for frequent votes. Consideration of concrete measures
to improve the working of the Security Council would be in step
with the Australian resolution, the prime purpose of which was to
help make the Council work as it was intended to work.
5. Council's major difficulties during past year had arisen in
cases of peaceful settlement. It should be possible, given a
reasonable measure of goodwill and a common zeal for peace, to
proceed through the whole of the stages envisaged by Chapter VI of
the Charter by means of certain standard and unexceptionable
procedures, in the application of which the interests of no
permanent member would be involved to such a degree as would
justify the use of the veto. Peaceful settlement was a duty of the
Council and could surely be performed in good faith as a duty. It
should be possible in most cases for the Council to do all that
was required in Chapter VI, without any contention or without
raising fundamental issues. If it was not possible to do so, then
the only reasons were either that cases were being brought to the
Council in bad faith and for political reasons or, having been
brought in good faith, they were being seized upon to serve as
pawns in manoeuvres foreign to the purpose for which the Council
6. Concluding we said real issue was conduct of the great powers
themselves. Had they discharged their trust? If not, how were they
going to discharge it? During past nine months Council had failed
to work in the way in which it was expected to work and had failed
to obtain confidence of peoples of the world by dealing
effectively with cases brought before it. This was matter of grave
concern to General Assembly and a duty of Assembly, using its
powers under Article 10, to inquire most closely why the Security
Council should be in such a state. In our view one of the main
causes, though not the sole cause nor the fundamental cause, was
the way in which Article 27 has been applied. The challenge must
be to the great powers themselves to come together, to achieve in
fact that unanimity which they had pledged themselves to devote to
the good of mankind. Australian resolution  firstly asked
General Assembly to express opinion on the practices of the past
year and secondly appealed to great powers to try to remedy
7. Cuba then presented his resolution  (see our Assembly 152)
and argued for abolition of veto on following grounds-
(a) Veto was invalid because included in Charter by moral
(b) It was contrary to other sections of Charter including
principle of sovereign equality.
(c) United Nations could not work with veto which tended to create
blocs and satellites and set up world dictatorship of great powers
transforming organisation into an alliance of powers.
8. Philippine delegation submitted proposal for amendment by
reducing required number of affirmative votes of permanent members
to three. Veto contrary to equality of nations. Some compromise
essential to survival of Charter. Also supported Cuban proposal.
9. New Zealand strongly supported Australian proposal. Emphasised
necessity of agreement on interpretation of effect of absence and
abstention and reduction of use of veto in matters relating to
peaceful settlement. Would vote for Cuban and Philippine proposals
also, but without hope of success owing to eternal veto on
amendment of Charter.
10. Belgium considered it inopportune to request amendment of
Charter. Abuse of veto if continued would mean our guarantee of
security was an illusion. Veto must be used only in accordance
with Charter and rarely. Remedies lie in conformity with Article
33 , avoidance of negative votes in cases of peaceful
settlement by formulation of reservations and better spirit among
11. Poland gave doctrinaire review of law and history of
principles of unanimity and equality of States. Opposed alteration
until better solution available to replace present form of voting.
12. Argentina supported Cuban proposal as veto contrary to
preamble of Charter and to equality of States. Stated that some
members of Council had violated Charter and forgotten declaration
at San Francisco. Suggested that three proposals should be put and
would if necessary vote for all. Also moved that Cuban proposal as
most extreme be voted first.
13. El Salvador indicated support for Cuban and Australian
proposal or any proposal to attenuate veto. He also spoke
resentfully of Cuban reference to moral coercion.
14. Debate was adjourned to tomorrow.