500.CC/6–345: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State ( Grew )


5. Please transmit the following to the President as from me:

“Referring to our telephone conversation yesterday on the veto aspects of the voting procedure, the precise issue at present, as to which there has been a great deal of confusion especially in the press, is whether the veto power applies on the part of a great power not involved in a dispute so as to enable that great power to prevent having a situation discussed in the Council where such discussion is merely for the purpose of enabling the Council to decide what of [if] any action it should take or recommend. We are all in agreement that the unanimity of those great powers not involved in a dispute should apply to substantive decisions which the Council is called upon to make. The question of whether such a great power can prevent a situation from even being placed on the agenda and discussed in a preliminary way prior to the taking of substantive decisions was not covered either at Dumbarton Oaks or at Yalta. However, the British and we have always assumed and we have so stated publicly that any determination as to whether or not the Council itself undertake any such preliminary discussion should if a vote is required at all, be decided by not more than a procedural vote, i. e. without any of the great powers as such being able to exercise a veto. We are still hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement with the Soviet delegation on the interpretation of this question which is of course one on which we feel we cannot retreat.

You may be interested to know that in the course of the statement on voting procedure which I made to the February 6

Plenary Session at Yalta, I emphasized the importance which we ascribe to full and [Page 996] free discussion. That conference addressed itself only to the issue of a great power abstaining from voting in a dispute. However, my statement was in such broad terms that, especially when taken in conjunction with later interpretative public statements issued by the Department on the precise issue now under consideration, there can be no possible basis for any contention that our present position could be considered to be in violation of the Yalta agreements. According to the best records available to us here the exact language of the two paragraphs in my Yalta statement which referred to freedom of discussion was as follows:1

“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 any sovereign member state involved should have a right to present its case.

We believe that unless this freedom of discussion in the council is permitted, the establishment of the world organization which we all so earnestly desire in order to save the world from the tragedy of another war would be seriously jeopardized. Without full and free discussion in the Council, the organization, even if it could be established, would be vastly different from the one we have contemplated.”2

  1. See ante, pp. 661662.
  2. Notation on file copy reads: “Message sent to the White House 6/4/45 8:30 a. m.”