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237 Australian Government to Addison, Australian Delegation at United Nations and Cutler

CANBERRA, 22 November 1946 Cablegrams 397, UNY392, 431


Your D.1057 to D.1062. [1] Exercise of the veto.

1. Australian Delegation at New York is fully instructed on subject of veto and will have made known our views at British Commonwealth meetings.

2. We have three main objectives- (a) Expression of General Assembly opinion on application of Article 27 in past year.

(b) Request that Security Council, in carrying out obligation of peaceful settlement under Chapter VI, should not be hindered or obstructed by vote of single member.

(c) Recommendation by General Assembly of adoption of practices and procedures conducive to attainment of (b).

3. We have examined various proposals put forward by some of permanent members. While agreeing with some, they do not wholly measure up to above minimum objectives. In particular the fundamental objective (b) does not appear in any of suggested drafts in spite of US statement in para. 4 (4th sentence) of your D.1060 [2], implied Chinese support (D1062) [3] [and] the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons. [4]

4. We considered, particularly in view of recent statement by Mr Attlee, that we were entitled to full support of UK for draft resolution, which has recently been discussed with UK Delegation in New York. It is emphasised that our resolution is only a request to the great powers.

5. Our advices would indicate majority support, including that of the United States, for our draft, and with the active support of the UK there should be a good prospect of carrying it.

6. You will be aware of the Australian view as to the vital necessity for establishing the primacy of the Assembly in United Nations matters. We are not attempting by our actions to prejudice eventual Great Power agreement which alone could lead to the essential rehabilitation of world opinion in regard to the Security Council. We feel most strongly that an agreed code of [behaviour] which is privately arrived at is unlikely to be as effective as one emanating from a prior expression of the opinion of all the United Nations in the General Assembly.

1 These cablegrams summarised the progress of Big Five meetings on the question of the veto and conveyed the texts of U.K., Chinese and U.S. discussion papers.

2 Byrnes had commented that the United States had supported the principle of the veto at San Francisco 'because they believed it would only be used as regards enforcement matters or on matters of greatest importance'.

3 Like the United States, China did not favour a revision of the U.N. Charter, but affirmed the desirability of permanent members agreeing on certain improvements in the procedure of the Security Council.

4 See Document 178, note 1.

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History