IO Files: US/S/870

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charles P. Noyes of the United States Mission at the United Nations


Participants: Mr. Pierre Ordonneau, French Delegation
Mr. Charles P. Noyes, United States Mission

I went over our tentative plans for dealing with the General Assembly Resolution on the veto with Mr. Ordonneau. He did not have any instructions but said he would cable for instructions immediately. His personal reactions on the important points are as follows:

First Recommendation:

As far as the first recommendation is concerned, Ordonneau thought the French Government would be prepared to accept this recommendation. His understanding of it is the same as ours. He realizes that a question will arise as to whether a particular ease falls within one of the 34 categories. I explained our position that we were prepared to [Page 315] follow this recommendation subject to the general reservation that if in our opinion serious risks were involved, we might seek instead a political solution of the problem. Ordonneau seemed to think this was a reasonable position. He contemplated specifically that in a case similar to the Czech case, the French representative might be willing to rule the opposite from Parodi’s ruling.

Second Recommendation:

As to the second recommendation, Ordonneau felt that the French Government had come to the conclusion that it did not wish to support efforts to promote an agreement among the Five to forbear from using the veto on membership questions and Chapter 6 questions. He indicated that this was not so much because France feared to lose her own veto. He thought it was extremely difficult for any nation under present circumstances to use its veto. He thought the price of so doing was so great that it was doubtful whether the veto had much practical value for his Government. He obviously referred to the Indonesian case. He indicated that what his Government was worried about was placing too strong pressure on the Russians. His Government realized the Russians felt very strongly about this and the French did not wish to do anything which would be so provocative in the Russians eyes as to have serious repercussions. Ordonneau said that it was only because a new formula was found in the Joint Resolution which was much more vague than the Interim Committee formula that his Government had found itself able to join in the Resolution.

I pointed out that it would be somewhat embarrassing if in our private consultations and in a Security Council meeting itself in a discussion of this recommendation the French Government, who had sponsored this Resolution, took exactly the same position as the Soviet Government. I thought the French Government must have had something in mind in sponsoring this part of the Resolution which would permit it to put forward some formula which would move in the direction of liberalizing the veto, and which would not be identical with the absolutely negative position of the Soviet Government. Ordonneau agreed that this was important and promised to think it over.

I also emphasized that it was not contemplated that the Powers would agree not to use the veto in any respect unless all the Five made identical commitments. I thought there was little likelihood of our arriving at any solution on account of the Russian refusal to do so. On the other hand, I thought there were real advantages to be gained by making it perfectly clear to the world that the Russians were isolated on this question and that the other big Powers were prepared to take reasonable steps to liberalize the veto under Chapter 6 and [Page 316] membership questions. After all, the results of the last two years’ campaign on the veto had really been quite substantial and had resulted in the Security Council’s being able to come to many decisions as a result of abstentions by permanent members, particularly the Russians. I thought we should keep this pressure on, and while I was in agreement with him that we should not be provocative, I could not see how the taking of a forward-looking liberal position on this point by the French Government could possibly be interpreted by the Russians as being provocative. It was clearly not contemplated that we were going to go ahead and enforce changes in the voting procedures over the Russians’ objections.

Third Recommendation:

As to the third recommendation, Ordonneau thought this raised no problems. As to the procedure, Ordonneau agreed that we should have a Five Power meeting first and then a meeting of the Security Council to report the results. He agreed it would probably be desirable to accomplish this during June if possible. He thought that with Parodi in the Foreign Office, it was likely that the French position would be more liberal than it had been in the past since Parodi understood the problem very well. Ordonneau would let me know as soon as he received an answer from Paris.