Cablegram UN731 NEW YORK, 19 November 1946,12.34 a.m.
The following is the text of a memorandum communicated by Bevin to
other permanent members and used in the Big Five talks on veto.
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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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