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

Cablegram UN393 NEW YORK, 29 August 1946, 12.27 a.m.


Security 148.

1. The Security Council today considered the report of the Committee on membership. At the outset, the Polish Chairman stated that Mongolia had presented reply to Committee's questionnaire and Siam had asked that consideration of its application be adjourned until settlement of the dispute with France had been effected.

2. Opening the general discussion on the Committee's report, the United States read a prepared statement on the universality of membership as a guiding principle and argued that unless favourable action on all applications was taken now, the Organisation would have to work for another year with a less representative membership than is necessary. Therefore the Council shall take broad and far sighted action to recommend the admission of all present applications. He moved a resolution accordingly.

3. The Secretary-General intervened with a statement on the historical development of the idea of universality of membership and declared that the Organisation required active collaboration of all peace-loving states. As Secretary-General he supported admission of all applicants.

4. Brazil, Mexico and Egypt also supported the United States proposal as an application of the doctrine of universality.

5. The Soviet Union, briefly, but forcefully, opposed the proposal declaring that the Council must consider each application separately.

5. [1] Australia, as instructed, made a statement against admission en bloc. We made it clear that our remarks concerned the methods proposed and not the merits of any applicant. While universality of membership was desirable and we looked forward to the day when all peace-loving nations would work within the United Nations, our understanding of universality was not that any and every applicant must be admitted. The doctrine had to be applied in the sense of the Charter which required the fulfilment of precise conditions before membership was granted. The Security Council had a responsibility to examine applications and although it was our view that Security Council had prematurely assumed jurisdiction, we nevertheless thought that if it undertook such examination it should complete it thoroughly. Examination had not been completed by the Membership Committee. The Committee's report revealed that strong objections had been stated and grave doubts had been raised regarding certain applicants. Furthermore throughout the Committee's work it was anticipated that the eventual political decision would be made by the Council and political questions which Committee of Experts could not resolve had been left on one side. Further, two Members of the United Nations, Greece and Yugoslavia had applied to be heard by the Council regarding one of the applications and possibly other Members might wish to be heard and Council should not deny them their right of participation by dealing with applications en bloc.

In short, a day or two ago there were doubts regarding some of the applicants and there was an anticipation that all applications would be further examined by the Council. Now apparently the doubts have been removed and some Members wish to dispense with further examination. How had this come about? Without imputing motives of colleagues it seemed that the only possible reasons that could be urged in favour of proposal were that it provided an easy way out of difficulties and secondly that it might possibly remove the risk of one permanent member vetoing the candidate of another because his own candidate had previously been rejected.

Neither of these reasons applied to the Australian Delegation and in fact we believed any attempt to avoid difficulty by taking easy path would lead to greater difficulties in the future and would be against the interests of the United Nations. The Security Council had a solemn responsibility to the whole Organisation in regard to the admission of new members. We then referred to the primary responsibility of the General Assembly and the powers of the General Assembly in regard to admission and suggested that the General Assembly would be badly served by receiving all the applications in one lot whereas it was the Assembly's right and expectation to examine each one of them carefully and reach its own judgment on them.

6. China supported United States proposal.

7. The United Kingdom simply said that while in favour of universality, the conditions of the Charter must be observed and that it still had doubts whether two countries satisfied those conditions. It could not support the United States' proposal but in view of the course of the debate (i.e. certainty of Russian veto) there was no need to pronounce.

8. Cadogan informed us privately before the Meeting that he was instructed to oppose admission en bloc and that United Kingdom maintained its objection to Albania and Outer Mongolia but it was doubtful whether he would take the responsibility of vetoing the United States proposal, the British view being that the veto should not be exercised against a majority except in case of major importance. Cadogan was therefore pleased that Gromyko, saved him the necessity of applying the veto and he also appreciated our statement.

9. After the United States, the Netherlands and Egypt had said that if United States proposal was not carried they would reserve the right to reconsider their position on each Country taken separately, the United States on the Soviet suggestion, withdrew its resolution.

10. Before the general discussion closed, Australia made a statement of its attitude along lines of our reservation to the Committee's report and also as instructed on our dissatisfaction with the procedures and the form of application along the lines of Paragraph 8 of telegram UN.366. [2]

11. Consequent upon the withdrawal of the United States proposal there was some skirmishing by its supporters to avoid separate consideration of applicants. Proposal by France to admit the three applicants who were known to have been supported and to defer the other five was supported by Egypt but objected to by Soviet and was withdrawn. United States then stated plainly that if the case of Albania and Outer Mongolia were brought to a vote it would vote against them and attempted to move that the Council should not take action at this time in the case of those two applicants.

Soviet also opposed this and Gromyko dismissed effectively remarks of Johnson who was obviously ill at ease because after having failed in a move for mass approval now had to attempt to bring about group rejection.

12. After brief argument regarding order of discussion it was decided to take up the case of Albania. Greek and Yugoslav Representatives were invited to participate. Soviet made a long statement mainly about Albania's participation in the war against the Axis.

13. The United States again moved that the Council should not take action in the case of Albania and Outer Mongolia at the present time saying that he hoped for the event [3] of these countries and wanted to avoid the painful necessity of casting a negative vote against them.

14. United Kingdom indicated that it would support the United States.

15. Chairman suggested that discussion should continue on Ukrainian [4] application and United States proposal could be submitted when the time came to take a vote. Representative of Greece then made an extremely long statement which with translation lasted over an hour and a half and after nearly eight hours in morning and afternoon sessions, Council adjourned till tomorrow morning.

1 A sign here indicates that the paragraph numbering is 'as received'.

2 See Document 73, note 3.

3 A sign here indicates 'word omitted'; the phrase presumably should read 'eventual admission of'.

4 'Ukrainian' presumably should read 'Albanian'.

[AA:A1838 T189, 854/10/14, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History