Memorandum Prepared in the Division of International Organization Affairs10


Comments on Canadian Memorandum on Elections to UN Councils11

Our comments on this memorandum may be grouped in accordance with the four “conventions” with which it concludes.

1. “The convention that the Assembly can properly disregard in elections to the Security Council the principle of functionalism set forth in Article 23 of the Charter.”

We agree that the Assembly should not disregard the functional principle, but we consider it equally harmful to disregard the geographic principle. As long as the five Great Powers are in a predominant position on the Security Council, there is no danger of a “weak” Council. We believe that, to be most effective, the Council should include representatives of the major geographic areas and of the British Commonwealth. We should remind the Canadians that it is not only the members of the Security Council, but all UN members, who contribute military and economic force to the preservation of peace. We should maintain, moreover, that a small state which speaks for the entire regional group to which it belongs on major issues wields an influence greater than that represented by its own military and economic strength.

2. “The convention that a State is ineligible for election to the Security Council if it is already a member of the Economic and Social Council.”

We do not agree with this thesis as an invariable rule, and the Canadians should be reassured by our sponsorship of Belgium for the [Page 203] Security Council at this time. At the same time, we would ordinarily prefer a wide distribution of Council posts among the members of the Organization. It is important that the smaller states, which are already dissatisfied because they play so small a part in UN operations, be granted as much voice as possible in UN activities, although frankly we would not now expect that every small state would some day achieve membership on the Security Council.

3. “The convention that a number of regions of the world have a right to be represented on the Council by a State designated by them no matter what the qualifications of that State may be.”

We could not agree that a regional group has an inherent right to demand that other states necessarily respect its choice of candidates from among its own membership. But it is only realistic to acknowledge that regional choices, and logrolling among regional groups, are to be expected. Normally, we would proceed to select our own candidates from the areas concerned and attempt to persuade the appropriate regional groups to accept our choices. If, however, we failed in the attempt, we should be inclined to accept the candidate chosen by a regional group, provided we had no special objection to it as a candidate.
We do not feel that Council members from a given regional area must necessarily, or should always, be members of an organized regional group. In this connection, it may be well to explain generally to the Canadians how the Department came to support Syria for the Security Council, stressing the fact that Turkey was our original candidate.

4. “The convention that only one member of the British Commonwealth, apart from the United Kingdom, should sit on the Security Council.”

We should explain to the Canadians that our conception of the proper geographic allocation of seats among the non-permanent members of the Security Council, as determined in the Department prior to the General Assembly session at London, includes one member of the British Commonwealth, in addition to the United Kingdom. We might assure the Canadians that we do not intend to bracket the Dominions with “the vast area lying south of China and of the Arab states and including the whole of Africa.” In Africa, this “vast area” involves only two UN members, Liberia and Ethiopia, which we place in the NEA group; in the Far East, the only UN members concerned are the Philippines and India.
It seems to us that the Security Council, which is a political body, should roughly reflect the existing division of political forces. On this basis, we do not see how the British Dominions can expect to [Page 204] occupy more than one seat among them, particularly if only one seat is allocated to the Soviet satellites.

  1. Drafted by David H. Popper.
  2. Supra.