IO Files: US(P)/A/C.1/84

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. James N. Hyde of the United States Delegation Advisory Staff

Participants: Mr. Pierre Ordonneau, French Delegation
Mr. Naudit, French Delegation
Mr. J. N. Hyde, United States Delegation
Mr. Eric Stein, United States Delegation


At our request we met Messrs. Ordonneau and Naudit for lunch with the understanding that we would discuss the veto. The representative [Page 246] of France had reserved his position on the conclusion of the Interim Committee that 36 decisions be deemed procedural within the meaning of Article 27(2) of the Charter and on a second recommendation that the permanent members of the Security Council agree that 21 additional decisions should be adopted by a vote of any seven members of the Council whether or not they be considered procedural. Ordonneau, representing France in the Interim Committee, has never gone into detail as to the reason behind these reservations and stated his government’s position in one long speech in a sub-committee. At the time he told us that he was speaking under strict instructions to proceed cautiously and avoid offending Soviet sensibilities.

We began by speaking at some length about the veto Report of the Interim Committee as we see it. We noted, the broad French reservations and since Ordonneau was away from Lake Success when the Report was going through the Interim Committee we had not been able to discuss the technical details with “him. Beginning with Schuman’s speech in the general debate, we mentioned the French concern over Soviet veto of membership applications, particularly the Italian application, and also his statement that the excessive use of the veto reflected the basic difference, of views threatening the future of states and individuals.1

We felt that the French views on membership are precisely the same as ours and that, therefore, this is one category of decision covered by the second recommendation of the Interim Committee on which we are both in agreement. With a view to seeking the largest area of agreement among the permanent members, we therefore suggested that we should, with our French colleagues, go over all these categories and see where we agree and where we disagree with a view to reducing their broad reservations to particular categories.

We spelled out the exact nature of the second recommendation and that it is simply to the effect that the permanent members would attempt to agree among themselves that the decisions covered by it should be taken by any seven votes. We recognized that the area of agreement with the Russians at this time might be small or non-existent but we would at least have accomplished something by presenting to the Assembly a Report on which the other four members find themselves in accord. We noted that the French had a specific reservation as to Item 21.2 We stated that we could quite understand their position [Page 247] there. We stressed that there is no intention on the part of the United States to have the categories covered by the second reservation regarded as accepted until after there has been agreement among all of the permanent members. We have always made this quite plain and have been subjected to some criticism for our action as in the Czech case where we were criticized by the Chinese.

Considering the first recommendation which would commit those states accepting it to deem as procedural certain categories and act accordingly, we would like to go through this list with the French. We described it as essentially a particularization of Part I of the Four Power Statement and staled that so far as we were concerned we considered it as committing us to no action inconsistent with that document. If our French friends felt that there are categories contained in Category 1 which should not be so characterized, we would be glad to reexamine this matter with them. We recalled that we had been careful to state that the United States would not abandon the statement of general attitude which the Four Power Statement represents until there is general agreement among the five permanent members on the second recommendation.

We recalled Ordonneau’s speech in which he suggested that the Report was perhaps an effort to nibble away at the veto by means of the second recommendation and we suggested that really this is nothing more than the development of a principle similar to the abstention principle to which we knew the French were sympathetic. The second recommendation being completely conditioned on agreement between all the five permanent members, we could see in it no attempt to do away by some indirect or illegal means with the veto. At the same time, we feel that this is the sound and conservative way of dealing with the problem which the Argentine representatives and others want to face by calling an immediate conference to amend the Charter and proceeding with such amendments irrespective of Soviet acceptance. We and the French agree that this is a dangerous and undesirable concept and we pointed out that the way to oppose it is with a recommendation along the lines of that contained in the Report. We concluded by pointing out that our own policy as to the veto is clearly stated in the first objective of the Vandenberg resolution and that the Report as it stands embodies that objective and at the same time gives us a way for defeating the rather irresponsible efforts for a dramatic way of limiting or doing away with the veto.

Having listened to the above presentation, Ordonneau stated and repeated that he considered the Report a sound document and that he liked it. He and his colleague readily agreed to sit down with us arid go through it item by item with a view to removing their general reservation [Page 248] which he described as precautionary taken simply to save their position for consideration at this time. He stated that they would ask us to change certain decisions from Category 1 to Category 2. He was asked the nature of their objection to removing the veto from Chapter VI. He replied that he felt this was dangerous for political purposes and recalled that all of the cases handled by the Security Council except Palestine have been Chapter VI matters.

As we discussed the nature of the second recommendation, Mr. Naudit suggested that it was fundamentally looking toward a new Five Power Statement. We agreed that once the Five Powers had accepted the second recommendation it would in some particulars affect the Four Power Statement and in that sense would constitute a new Five Power Statement.

We then considered the tactics for presenting the suggestions to the Assembly. Ordonneau suggested perhaps a joint resolution by the British, French and ourselves along the lines of the Report. We agreed that this would be the best way for defeating Arce’s idea for a conferee. We stated that we had not conferred with other delegations on the veto until we had the French views. Ordonneau asked us for dinner on Tuesday, October 12, to get down to the technical questions with our papers before us. He enquired whether it would be well to ask the United Kingdom and we suggested that perhaps it would be better to get our own position clear first, recalling that the British objections are similar to the French and from our point of view it would be undesirable to face two of them opposing us at the same time. We agreed further that we will have to reconcile the Chinese representative to a position that may be more conservative than he would like but Ordonneau suggested that the Chinese position was more perhaps the personal position of Dr. Hsu than his delegation’s We left the subject with the understanding that we will proceed to work out a means of doing away with the French general reservations and that we will confer with the British in the immediate future.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

  1. Robert Schuman, French Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the French Delegation to the General Assembly. M. Schuman’s speech was made on September 28; for his remarks concerning the veto, see GA(III/1), Plenary, pp. 235–236.
  2. See footnote 4, p. 243.