Hiss Collection

United States Delegation Memorandum 1

Statement on the American Position on Voting in the Council

1. Review of Status of this Question.

It was agreed at Dumbarton Oaks that certain matters would remain under consideration for future settlement. Of these, the principal one was that of voting procedure to be followed in the Security Council.

At Dumbarton Oaks, the three Delegations thoroughly explored the whole question. Since that time the matter has received continuing intensive study by each of the three Governments.

On December 5, 1944, the President sent to Marshal Stalin and to Prime Minister Churchill a proposal that this matter be settled by making Section C, Chapter VI of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals read substantially as follows:

“C. Voting

Each member of the Security Council should have one vote.
Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters should be made by an affirmative vote of seven members.
Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters should be made by an affirmative vote of seven members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VIII, Section A and under the second sentence of paragraph 1 of Chapter VIII, Section C, a party to a dispute should abstain from voting.”

The text I have just read contains a minor drafting change in accordance with Soviet and British comments on the original text submitted by the President.

2. Analysis of the American Proposal.

(a) It is entirely consonant with the special responsibilities of the great powers for the preservation of the peace of the world. In this respect our proposal calls for unqualified unanimity of the permanent members of the Council on all major decisions relating to the preservation of peace, including all economic and military enforcement measures.

(b) At the same time our proposal recognizes the desirability of the permanent members frankly stating that the peaceful adjustment of any controversy which may arise is a matter of general world interest in which the sovereign member states other than the permanent members have a right to state their case without arbitrary prohibition.

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We believe that unless this freedom of discussion in the Council is permitted, the establishment of the World Organization we all desire would be seriously jeopardized, if not made impossible. Without full and free discussion in the Council, the Organization, even if it could be established, would be vastly different from that we have contemplated.

The paper which we have placed before the other two delegations sets forth the text of the provisions which I have read and lists specifically those decisions of the Council which, under our proposals, would require unqualified unanimity and, separately, those matters in the area of discussion and peaceful settlement in which any party to a dispute would abstain from casting a vote.

3. Reasons for the American Position.

From the point of view of the United States Government there are two important elements in the matter of voting procedure.

First, there is the necessity for unanimity among the permanent members for the preservation of the peace of the world to which I have referred.

Second, it is of particular importance to the people of the United States, that there be provision for justice for all members of the organization.

It is our task to reconcile these two major elements. We believe that the proposals submitted by the President to Marshal Stalin and Prime Minister Churchill on December 5, 1944, provide a reasonable and just solution and satisfactorily combine these two main considerations.

[Yalta,] February 6, 1945.

  1. Authorship not indicated. This is a carbon copy of one of the papers from which Stettinius spoke in the Plenary Meeting of February 6. (Cf. ante, pp. 661662, and post, p. 994.) The copy contains penciled notes by Hiss indicating the variations made by Stettinius when speaking from this paper.