IO Files: US(P)/A/C.1/100

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

Participants: Mr. James E. Fawcett, United Kingdom Delegation
Mr. P. S. Falla, United Kingdom Delegation
Mr. Harding Bancroft, United States Delegation
Mr. Eric Stein, United States Delegation
Mr. J. N. Hyde, United States Delegation
[Page 249]

We arranged for lunch with the United Kingdom men handling the veto to work out what our general approach should be, bearing in mind that we had previously had such a conference with the French.

Falla stated that they did not see anything particularly useful in the veto paper because it was not likely that the Russians would accept any part of it and nothing can be done without them. Furthermore, there is little use in taking a position on these questions before one has to and the whole question is academic. It might be all right to recommend the report to the members, briefly ask the Russians if they agree, and in the absence of such agreement let the matter rest there. The United Kingdom is interested in the idea of a code of conduct in the Security Council and that is probably the maximum extent of the usefulness of the report. Also, the legal representatives feel that perhaps this is a back door attempt to amend the Charter that will stir up the Russians needlessly and give them some additional ground for claiming that we are trying to take the veto away from them contrary to the agreement at San Francisco. The British generally are skeptical of the classification of decisions suggested by the second recommendation and think that a matter must be either substantive or procedural with the possible exception of the category of decision under paragraph 2, Part II, of the Four Power Statement which is a “special catogory” by itself. Falla summed it up by saying that the report seemed to be tilting at windmills and not particularly useful and there is no reason to suppose there will be any constructive result from the work in the absence of Russian agreement.

We addressed ourselves to this general approach and indicated our positive attitude toward the Interim Committee report. In the first place, we pointed out that other members have an interest in the veto and this is the first time since San Francisco that the subject has been discussed and their views known. We recalled that the Interim Committee was charged with this task on the theory that it could produce some light with less heat. Along the lines, of our conversation with the French we stressed the fact that the second recommendation is something that to be effective would have to be agreed upon by all five powers. We recognized that it is unlikely that there will be an area of agreement with the Russians now. However, the study would mean nothing except to indicate substantive differences of opinion between the other four powers if it were allowed to drift away with no clear action by the Assembly and with broad reservations by France and the United Kingdom. We pointed out that the Interim Committee discussion disclosed considerable disagreement among the United States, France and China. If an agreement among the four powers could be reached that would be an important step forward. Moreover, the implementation of a General Assembly recommendation listing proceedural [Page 250] decisions under Category 1 would not be subject to Soviet agreement. These were two general results we expect from the Interim Committee work. We recalled that there is a strong movement by articulate members of the Assembly to call a conference, the extremists being; willing to amend the Charter and proceeding without Russian participation. The way to meet this is to have something to suggest in its stead. We consider that the veto report is that something of a sound conservative nature and having some long term value. Furthermore, it will be a useful guide when acted upon by the Assembly, in the hands of each President of the Council.

We further mentioned that under the terms of the Vandenberg resolution1 this is an important objective of our policy and that therefore we propose to press it.

As to the point that this is a back door method of amendment we pointed to the principle of abstention which is generally accepted as a useful practice. We pointed out that recommendation 2 would be effective only by agreement and would therefore be a development of practice under the Charter for which the principle of abstention is a precedent.

The United Kingdom representatives, while not enthusiastic, admitted that the report would be useful in meeting the movement for calling a conference and recognized that our local political situation committed us to such a course of action. We suggested that if there were no basic agreement in principle between us as to the usefulness of the Interim Committee report, then there was some question in our minds as to she usefulness of going through it category by category and thereby in effect doing over the work of the Interim Committee. They went on to observe that their reservations are limited and agreed that therefore it might be possible to get together on a resolution and on general tactics so that it would be worth while to go through the present report and see what categories of decisions we are all in agreement upon. Then they showed us a draft containing what they would like to see in such a resolution. It contained some eight paragraphs rather equally balanced in emphasis. Only one of them ref erred to the recommendations of the Interim Committee dealing with the veto itself and that paragraph suggested that the members of the General Assembly be “invited to accept” the recommendations of the Interim Committee taking into account the reservations made in the report and even this paragraph emphasized the usefulness of the code of conduct for the Security Council which the report mentions and which is also mentioned in Mr. Bevin’s speech.

We went on to discuss some of the particular categories of decisions where we might want to make changes. We referred to the request for [Page 251] an advisory opinion of the Court now classified as a procedural matter on which a question is raised. This led to a discussion of Part II of the Four Power Statement and Fawcett emphasized the usefulness of the precedent in the Czech case.2

We concluded that there was sufficient agreement among us as to the over all question and the matter of how the veto should be handled to make it worth while to examine in detail the area in which we and the British agree on categories of decisions. We mentioned our idea of a resolution which would contain the recommendations of the report setting out each category of decision under the recommendation to which it relates.

We left with the understanding that we would go on to discuss details and tactics. It is clear that Falla has no real enthusiasm for the project and regards its usefulness as simply a political tactic to defeat Latin American movements to call a conference. However, Fawcett seemed to feel that the report would be a useful document in the operations of the Council and for the guidance of its President.

James N. Hyde
  1. For text of the “Vandenberg Resolution,” S. Res. 239, June 11, 1948, see footnote 7, p. 25.
  2. The reference is not altogether clear. The question of Czechoslovakia was before the Security Council actively in several forms during March–May 1948, and is usefully described in general terms in United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, third Session, Supplement No. 2, Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly 16 July 1947 to 15 July 1948, pp. 112 ff. The probability is that Mr. Fawcett’s allusion was to the Security Council voting on May 24, in Which the Soviet delegate, Gromyko, cast two negative votes in exercise of the so-called double veto, resulting in a rejection by the Council of a draft resolution calling for the appointment of a sub-committee to hear “evidence, statements and testimonies” concerning the recent political changes in Czechoslovakia. (See bracketed note, p. 172.) It is possible that the reference to “the usefulness of the precedent” was an allusion to the fact that some members of the Security Council (as of May 1948) had thought that Mr. Gromyko did not realize, the implications of his position when throughout the May 24 meeting he had seemed tacitly to accept the view that no ruling on voting procedure by a president of the Security Council could be changed except by the affirmative vote of seven members. For the proceedings of May 24, see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Third Year, No. 73, pp. 1–35. See also United Nations, Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council 1946–1951 (New York, 1954), pp. 149 and 150 (case 49) and pp. 150 and 157 (case 86).