Executive Secretariat Files, Lot 57 D 649

Department of State Policy Statement Regarding the United Nations1


A. Objectives

1. fundamental objectives

It is a primary objective of the foreign policy of the US to ensure the security, freedom, and well-being of the American people. These in turn depend in part upon the security, freedom, and well-being of other peoples, and upon orderly relations among nations.

The principal organizational structure of the community of nations—and the only one designed to be world-wide—is the United Nations,* which it is in our interest to maintain as an institutional structure through which sovereign nations may collaborate in collective endeavors toward achievement of their common interests, particularly in world peace and security, and the general welfare. As expressed in Article 1 of the Charter:

“The Purposes of the United Nations are:

  • “1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
  • “2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  • “3. To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  • “4. To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.”

These purposes, together with the Principles accompanying them in Article 2, embody essential concepts of American ideals of government, of relationships among governments, and of relationships between the human individual on the one hand, and government or society on the other.

The UN is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. It is in our interest to preserve this means. The real end is progressive development toward a stable world order where law and orderly processes, rather than violence and anarchy, can govern the conduct of nations in their relations with each other.

It is, of course, constituted as an association of independent states, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members, rather than as a single world state. Thus it is not designed to terminate national sovereignty but rather to facilitate the joint exercise of it by separate nations acting in friendly cooperation. The UN system provides an institutional structure through which this end may be pursued to the extent permitted by the changing realities of world politics and its economic and social circumstances.

It is also a unique medium of universal character for the general expression of US policy, especially in its global or multilateral aspects, whatever the direction it may take.

For these reasons President Truman stated as Point One of his Inaugural Address of January 20, 1949, that:

“In the coming years, our program for peace and freedom will emphasize four major courses of action:

First, we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase their effectiveness.…”

2. relationship to other us policies

Conceived as an association of sovereign states collaborating in matters of common interest while otherwise retaining the right of virtually complete independence of national action, the UN system constitutes machinery through which much or little may be accomplished, depending upon the underlying realities of world political forces, and the extent to which common interests may or may not emerge from them.

The UN serves US interests in two distinct ways. First, it offers in this machinery a unique additional medium for the expression of US policy, especially useful in matters of global or multilateral significance, which we can use wherever we consider the “universal” approach most effective, while remaining free, whenever we prefer, to [Page 31] use other media such as bilateral, regional, or other multilateral arrangements. Second, the organization and its Purposes and Principles, as expressed in the Charter, stand as a living embodiment in the international sphere of many of the essential ideals of the American way of life that are of universal appeal. They constitute for us an asset in rallying others to sympathy with American ideals and objectives, while serving at the same time the consensus of the American people themselves on the need for building an orderly world community.

In a world in which the USSR heads an aggressive power bloc and the US heads a counter power bloc which would curb and diminish the role of aggression, the UN facilitates the coalition of a preponderance of power against aggression.

The UN affords a standard of universality which, while permitting regional arrangements, helps to keep them from disrupting the growing world-wide community of nations.

To the extent that US action is in harmony with UN principles it is easier to transform the US–USSR struggle into a UN–USSR struggle in a manner permitting suitable recognition of the interests of the world community as a whole.

The organization provides a vehicle through which the US and the newly independent peoples of Asia may cooperate more effectively.

UN membership makes it not only legitimate but indeed a duty for the US, as a leading UN member, to concern itself with world problems wherever they may occur. This provides a solid basis for bringing US influence to bear in such distant places as Iran, Indonesia, Palestine, Korea, Greece, the Italian colonies, and the underdeveloped areas of the world.

B. Policies

1. political and security

The Security Council and the General Assembly’s role in Security. The Security Council is the organ of the UN which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has made important contributions in the peaceful settlement of international disputes. In some disputes it assisted in bringing about the cessation of hostilities (e.g., Indonesia, Kashmir, Palestine), and in others it prevented the outbreak of hostilities (e.g., Iran), thus paving the way for eventual peaceful settlement.

In the SC, decisions on substantive matters (as distinguished from procedural) require the agreement of all the five permanent Members. It has been the policy of the US to seek agreement in the Council within the framework of the principles and purposes of the Charter, [Page 32] to improve the functioning of the Council and to advocate its full use where appropriate, within a liberal interpretation of the existing Charter. However, in a number of important instances, the Soviet Union has prevented any decision in the SC by its arbitrary use of the veto. We have proposed in this connection the elimination of the veto from decisions on membership applications and from decisions made under Chapter VI of the Charter dealing with peaceful settlement, but not from decisions concerning enforcement measures. We are seeking a limitation of the veto through the implementation of a resolution by the GA which goes far to solve the controversial problem of what matters are now properly subject to the veto, and in addition call for the non-exercise of the veto through voluntary restraint in certain fields including that of membership and peaceful settlement of disputes. We are determined to use all our influence in the SC to block Soviet attempts to extend the veto into areas where it is not applicable under the Charter.

Some progress has been made in the SC in the direction of voluntary restraint in the exercise of the veto. The first step was establishment of the practice, based on Charter interpretation, of permitting a permanent member unwilling to vote affirmatively for a decision to abstain from voting rather than to be compelled to vote in the negative with the possible effect of vetoing the decision.

Another step in this direction was achieved in 1949 in spite of the general reluctance of the Soviet Union to relinquish or relax the right of veto: The permanent members, including the Soviet Union, reached an agreement on the principle and practice of consultation before important decisions of the SC are to be made, and to give effect to this, agreed that such consultations will occur upon the call of the permanent members in alphabetical order, and rotating on a monthly basis, and that they may also be held on the request of any permanent member.

The General Assembly (unlike the SC) has no authority to issue binding and enforcement orders under the Charter. It may, however (under Arts. 10 and 11), discuss any matter within the scope of the Charter and (except as provided in Art. 12) may make recommendations for the adjustment of any situations impairing friendly relations among nations. Moreover, it may discuss any question affecting international peace and security at any time, and may make recommendations thereon when the Security Council is not dealing with the dispute or situation in question.

The General Assembly is the most representative body of the UN. In the past it has made recommendations on a number of questions for adjustment of frictions among states, has provided for drafting [Page 33] of conventions under its auspices, and has made recommendations designed to determine the fate of important territories, such as the Italian colonies, Palestine, and Korea. In the question of the Italian colonies, the four powers, before referring the matter to the GA, pledged themselves to abide by any recommendation which the GA may make on this matter. It is the policy of the US to promote this practice whereby Members undertake in advance to comply with recommendations of the GA.

The arbitrary use of the veto in the SC has seriously affected its ability to maintain peace. In June 1950 the SC demonstrated its ability, in the absence of the Soviet member, to take prompt and effective action against aggression. The successful Korean action then initiated has since been carried forward on the basis of those decisions. Further decisions on this subject in the SC have been hindered by the return of the Soviet member.

We believe that inability of the SC to exercise its primary function in maintaining world peace does not relieve Members of the UN of their basic obligations under the Charter, particularly the obligations expressed in Article 2; nor does such inability relieve the GA of its duties under the Charter to exercise its jurisdiction in the field of world peace. We believe that the GA must organize itself in such a way as to be able to perform a major role in this field. For this reason we proposed the establishment of the Interim Committee, which sits during the period between the sessions of the Assembly. Furthermore, we believe that in case of a breach of the peace when the SC is unable to act the GA must be ready to convene at shortest notice and make recommendations to the members for the restoration of peace. Such recommendations might include recommendations for collective armed action by Members against the aggressor. We also favor the designation of UN units in the armed forces of Member nations, to increase the likelihood that forces will be available for such action.

One of the most important aspects of our policy of advancing the rule of law in international relations is our basic attitude, maintained in connection with each particular problem, that the actual authority and functions of the UN will develop most soundly through actual practice—through the “creative use of precedent”—; that restrictive interpretations of the UN powers must therefore be avoided; and that wherever possible procedures should be improved and developed through informal agreement.

Beyond our proposals on the veto, mentioned above, which could be carried out without a formal amendment of the Charter, we have not yet formulated any policy for charter revision by the 1955 review date set by Art. 108.

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It is clear that no changes in the forms or procedures of international intercourse can bring about a major improvement in the immediate world situation. Rather, it is to changes of substance that we must look. It is to those changes of substance that our policy has been primarily directed. When the substance of the world situation improves, the UN will be able to function with greatly increased effectiveness. However, since the development of accepted procedures for international cooperation is in the modern world essential to stable peace, we are giving a considerable amount of attention to joint efforts in the UN to improve the working of the UN under the existing terms of the Charter.

It is occasionally suggested that a revised UN, or some form of world government, should be achieved, if necessary without those nations unwilling to cooperate. We doubt whether this would be acceptable to public opinion here or elsewhere, and, in any event, believe this would probably destroy the present UN organization without replacing it with anything better or even so good. The result would probably be a dispersal of the community of nations into isolated groups more susceptible than at present to the domination of aggressive Soviet expansion.

Atomic Energy and Conventional Armaments. In the security field, the primary objective of the United States is set forth in the Essentials of Peace Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on December 1, 1949:

“12. To cooperate to attain the effective national regulation of conventional armaments; and

“13. To agree to the exercise of national sovereignty jointly with other nations to the extent necessary to attain international control of atomic energy which would make effective the prohibition of atomic weapons and assure the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes only.”

The United States stresses the word “effective” both in relation to international regulation of armaments and international control of atomic energy. Unless the measures taken by the United Nations are genuinely effective, any apparent progress would be a delusion which might distract the United States and other free democracies from the dangers of Soviet imperialism.

The United States supports the plan of control of atomic energy developed by the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission after three years of work and approved by the General Assembly on November 4, 1949. We said on November 23, 1949, in the General Assembly, “The United States supports this plan and will continue to support it unless and until proposals are made which clearly would [Page 35] provide equal or more effective and workable means of control and prohibition.” In the field of regulation and reduction of conventional armaments the United States is seeking to develop an effective plan. The current emphasis is on the item of the Plan of Work of the Committee on Conventional Armaments (CCA) entitled “Consideration of practical and effective safeguards by means of an international system of control operating in the specific organs (and by other means) to protect complying states against the hazards of violations and evasions.”

The United States recognizes that without agreement of the Soviet Union no substantial progress is possible either in the direction of control of atomic energy or of regulation and reduction of conventional armaments; and that in the existing state of international relations no satisfactory agreement with the Soviet Union is likely to materialize. The Soviet Union has embarked on a propaganda campaign to place upon the United States the full responsibility for the failure of the United Nations to secure control of atomic energy and the regulation of conventional armaments. Even though recognizing the virtual impossibility of agreement with the Soviet Union the United States must continue to advocate regulation and control of all arms and armed forces, including atomic weapons. This will serve as a demonstration of United States desire for peace and to carry out the Charter requirements (Article 26), and will also aid in establishing the falsity of the Soviet propaganda line.

The provision of armed forces under Article 43. The United States continues to support a policy of seeking agreements to provide the United Nations with armed forces as contemplated in the Charter, though recognizing the impossibility under existing world conditions of securing any measure of agreement on this subject.

The provision of armed forces for the Security Council under agreements to “be negotiated as soon as possible on the initiative of the Security Council” between the Council and members or groups of members is stipulated in Article 43 of the Charter, under which member states “undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security,” in order that the Council may, under Article 42, “take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.” No such agreements have yet been made, and hence no forces are now available to the Security Council.

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In accordance with Security Council instructions in 1946, the Military Staff Committee studied the problem and submitted a report to the Security Council in April 1947. Of its 41 articles of recommendation 25 were agreed unanimously by all members of the Military Staff Committee, but agreement was not reached on the remaining 16, due mainly to the following principal differences between the Soviet Union and the other four members of the committee (the US, UK, China, and France).

The Soviet Union proposed that forces of each type should be made available in equal quantities by each of the five permanent members of the Security Council. We and the other members rejected this principle of “equality” and proposed on the contrary that the forces available to the Security Council should constitute a “balanced force” to which each of the permanent members would make available a “comparable” over-all contribution but that these contributions might differ widely as to the strength of the separate components, land, sea, and air. This would make it possible for the air and naval forces to be predominantly British and American, and the land forces predominantly Russian and Chinese. The disagreement concerned this relative make-up of the contributions rather than their over-all size. On the latter point, there appeared to be no insuperable difficulty, although it was not explored conclusively. However, the Soviet Union also proposed—and we and the other members opposed—the principles that (a) the forces made available should be garrisoned within the frontiers of the contributing nations’ own territories or territorial waters except those engaged in the occupation of ex-enemy countries or other activities authorized by Article 107 of the Charter; (b) armed forces employed by the Council should be automatically withdrawn to their own territories or territorial waters within a time limit of 30 to 90 days after they carried out the task assigned to them; and (c) “assistance and facilities” made available under Article 43 should not embrace bases.

No action relating to the provision of armed forces, assistance, and facilities under Article 43 took place in any organ of the UN in 1949, and the matter now remains at rest on the divergent views outlined above. However, in the Mutual Defense Act of 1949 the Congress reaffirmed “the policy of the US to seek agreements to provide the UN with armed forces as contemplated in the Charter”, and the US has continued its study of various suggestions for dealing with this problem.

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Article 51. The US upholds for all nations “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense” against armed attack without awaiting UN action, as set forth in Article 51, and itself stands ready to participate in such collective action where appropriate, as declared in the Vandenberg Resolution of 1948. With reference to the various proposals that have been suggested for open-ended general defense pacts under Article 51 to include all except the Soviet-controlled countries, this Government is willing open-mindedly to study such proposals, but for the present is not prepared to accept any that have yet been proposed in specific terms.

Membership. The US has, in general, favored the achievement of a practically universal membership by the UN. In 1946, we encouraged a number of states to apply and proposed, in the SC, the admission of all the applicants including Albania and the Mongolian Peoples’ Republic. Soviet rejection of this plan led to a stalemate which has continued ever since. In 1946, only Afghanistan, Iceland and Sweden were admitted; in 1947, Pakistan and Yemen; in 1948, Burma; in 1949, Israel. In 1946, after Soviet rejection of our proposal, and in every subsequent year, all other non-Soviet applicants have been vetoed by the Soviet Union and all Soviet applicants have failed to secure the necessary 7 votes in the SC. In the SC, the US has generally abstained from the vote on the Soviet candidates chiefly in consequence of our position concerning the veto. Since 1949 the US has regularly stated that it does not intend to permit its privileged vote to prevent the admission to membership of any state which has secured as many as 7 affirmative votes in the SC. We have, however, opposed the Soviet candidates as not qualifying under Article 4 of the Charter. We have stated that the assistance given by Albania and Bulgaria to the Greek guerrillas shows clearly their unwillingness to carry out Charter obligations; a similar position has been taken with regard to the violations of the human rights provisions of the peace treaties by Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria. We have stated that the existence of the Mongolian Peoples’ Republic as an independent state in the international sense is open to serious question. We have consistently supported Jordan, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Finland, Ceylon, the Republic of Korea, and Nepal. In 1949 the Soviet Union proposed the admission of “all” applicants, omitting, however, the Republic of Korea. This proposal has been decisively rejected in the SC and GA. In 1949 the North Korean regime submitted an application. The SC refused even to refer the application to its membership committee. The US stated that this was not even an application within [Page 38] the meaning of the Rules of Procedure and that the Security Council should not even entertain it.

Chinese Representation. One of the principal problems in UN organs during 1950 has been the question of Chinese representation. This question has been particularly important in the Security Council of which China is a permanent member. Because its efforts to unseat representatives of the Chinese National Government and seat representatives of the Communist regime have been unsuccessful, the USSR and its satellites refused to participate in all UN bodies and agencies which met from January 13 to August 1, 1950, except the Executive and Liaison Committee of the UPU where a Chinese Communist was seated for the duration of the session.

The basic position of the United States on the representation issue is that since we recognize the National Government as the Government of China, we oppose any proposal to unseat its representatives or seat representatives of the Communist regime, but will accept the decision of any organ of the UN made by the necessary majority. With respect to the application of the veto in the SC on this matter, we maintain that a question of representation relates to the organization of the Council; it is therefore a procedural matter and not subject to veto. The Secretary has stated that we believe that “each nation must decide for itself how it is going to vote on this question and we are not going to try to influence them.” Since the development of the Korean situation this element of our basic position has been altered to the extent that we have informed other Delegations that we do not think that the Chinese representation issue should arise in the SC or any other UN organ during the Korean crisis and that during this time we are even more disinclined to see a change in Chinese representation.

2. economic and social

Article 55 of the United Nations Charter is in effect a broad statement of US policy objectives and long-range interests in the economic and social field. It provides that the United Nations should promote: “Higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” It has been US policy to encourage the development and use of institutions in the UN specialized agency framework in the furtherance of these objectives. Since the utilization of this organizational framework is not dependent on Soviet participation or subject to the Soviet veto, it provides [Page 39] a solid and continuing base for cooperation among the free nations of the world that is not susceptible to Soviet obstruction.

A few of the major policy problems in this field are, briefly:

Technical Assistance—The United States has initiated and strongly supported an expanded program of technical assistance in the United Nations and specialized agencies. It is important from the standpoint of the broad interests of the United States to carry out a major part of the technical assistance program on a multilateral rather than a bilateral basis. The US has pledged $12,007,500 to the program for the next 18 months, provided this does not exceed 60% of the total UN fund.
Methods of Financing Economic Development—In the discussions in the Economic and Social Council on this subject a number of governments have expressed their disappointment in the amount of capital lent by the International Bank and their fear that private foreign capital might be inadequate to their needs, or might be used for developments over which recipient countries would not have control and lead to exploitation. Some under-developed countries have maintained that the resources of the International Bank are inadequate to the need for international capital or that the terms of its loans are too strict, and have urged the establishment of new international financing agencies which would be able to make loans on more generous terms and conditions. The United States has maintained that private investment and public capital should be complementary, not competing, means of financing development and has argued against the establishment of new lending institutions while the International Bank still has a very significant unused lending potential.
Large-scale Emergency Programs—The United States has initiated or supported large-scale emergency programs of a welfare or humanitarian nature—United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Refugee Organization (IRO), and United Nations Relief to Palestine Refugees and its successor, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNPRA). In the case of UNICEF and IRO, the United States has taken the position that these bodies should be terminated when the bulk of their work has been completed and arrangements made within the UN specialized agency framework to handle residual or continuing problems at reduced cost. This point of view has been resisted by a number of countries which feel that there is continuing need for larger financial resources to deal with these problems in which the share of financial support has fallen most heavily upon the US. The US has carried its position with regard to the European refugee problem. On the matter of activities on behalf of children, sufficient agreement was reached in the Economic and Social Council to warrant the belief that the General Assembly at its 1950 meeting will pass a resolution on this subject which will be acceptable to the US.
The inauguration of a works program by UNPRA in lieu of relief is based not only on humanitarian considerations but also on political interests of the US, UK, and France, and many other UN Members, in the maintenance of peace and stability in this area. It remains to [Page 40] be determined whether or not UN machinery can or should be utilized for any longer range development programs by way of assistance to refugees or as a method of contributing to the peaceful settlement of disputes of which the UN is seized.
Ratification of the ITO Charter—The Department has recommended strongly to Congress that the Charter be ratified. Failure of the United States to ratify the International Trade Organization (ITO) Charter, in the preparations and negotiations for which the US played the leading role, would have serious repercussions. Without US ratification, it would be more difficult for the US to pursue the liberal trade policy which it has developed and our failure to ratify might be considered as a reversal of that policy. The ITO, moreover, is an important part of the interrelated organization framework which can hardly function satisfactorily until the ITO is in operation.
The Scope and Extent of the Covenant on Human Rights—The US is seeking to embody in the Covenant on Human Eights the basic political and civil rights set forth in the Declaration on Human Eights which has been adopted by the General Assembly. It has also sought to include certain additional principles not incorporated in that Declaration, such as a general article on Freedom of the Press in lieu of a separate convention on that subject. The adoption of this Covenant and subsequent ratification by the US and other free countries would promote the struggle against totalitarianism. The US is opposed to the inclusion of economic and social rights in the Covenant, as it feels that these rights can be dealt with more satisfactorily through the medium of other organizations, particularly the International Labor Organization.

3. non-self-governing territories

The acceleration of nationalism among dependent peoples, the Soviet propaganda drive for their allegiance, and the anticolonial views of the majority of United Nations Members have produced a number of serious problems for the US in all the UN bodies dealing with “the colonial problem.”

By their superior voting strength the non-colonial powers are in a position to carry their views in the General Assembly by an overwhelming majority. The US, by virtue of its responsibility for one trust territory and six non-self-governing territories, has certain concerns in common with the other administering Members but also by tradition and present conviction shares some of the viewpoints of the non-administering Members. It requires for its security the strengthening of its western European allies, among whom are the principal colonial powers, the continued friendship of the non-administering states, and the alignment of dependent peoples with the democratic world. The US cannot afford to allow peoples who have recently emerged from colonial status or those who are yet to emerge to feel that their best hopes lie with the Soviet Union. The US seeks to [Page 41] encourage political, economic, social, and educational advancement of dependent peoples in such a manner as to convince administering powers, non-administering powers, and dependent peoples that our objectives in relation to dependent areas provide for the greatest possible mutual benefit of all three groups.

The political objectives of the US have been to favor the progressive development of all dependent peoples toward the goal of self-government insofar as they may desire it and are capable of it, and the development of dependent territories where conditions are suitable toward independence; and to encourage the metropolitan governments to take progressive steps toward the achievement of these goals by fostering the growth of responsible democratic movements and institutions among indigenous peoples. The US hopes that in the interests of avoiding fragmentation of the world, many colonial peoples will wish to attain self-government within some associative relationship with the metropolitan country. In pursuing these goals the US seeks understanding and cooperation with the other colonial powers and, to the greatest degree possible, the acceptance by the latter of basic US objectives; and, in like manner, it seeks understanding on the part of the non-colonial powers of the objectives of the US as well as the problems, responsibilities, and achievements of the other colonial powers.

To promote these political objectives the US seeks to assist the metropolitan powers in strengthening the economic, educational, and social development of dependent territories, encouraging mutually advantageous economic relations between colonial areas and metropolitan countries, as well as with the US and the rest of the free world. This objective is being sought through efforts to utilize UN organs and agencies for the constructive exchange of ideas and experience, particularly focusing attention on specialized problems in the fields of public health, agriculture, commerce, and the development of basic resources.

4. organizational and administrative

The US, viewing the UN as a flexible and expansible executive instrument of the will of its membership, has advocated the use of the UN as an organizational device in a positive and creative manner. It has strongly supported the concept of the executive responsibility of the Secretary-General. The US has argued consistently that the Governments, in the General Assembly and its Committee V, etc., should concern themselves with questions of general organizational, administrative and financial policy and should not meddle in the area of decision which should properly be reserved to the Secretary-General.

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The US has taken seriously its commitment to observe the international character of the UN secretariat and has not attempted in any way to give direction to US nationals on the secretariat. This policy has proved itself in the prestige of US nationals on the secretariat and the general acceptance of the fact that they are not there as representatives of the US Government. This is a definite asset to the US. The merit of the US position of non-interference in secretariat affairs is well demonstrated by the consequences of a contrary policy as maintained by the USSR. The nationals of the USSR on the Secretariat, never large in number, have been progressively reduced to the point where they now number no more than 25.

It is the further policy of the US, as the host Government, to give every assistance to the United Nations as an international organization having operating demands of a considerably different character from those of other organizations or member governments alone. The US has endeavored to show its hospitality to the UN in every way possible. In addition to the provision of financial aid in the construction of its headquarters, the US has in the past offered the UN the opportunity to draw upon it for personnel, services and facilities, and the Department is now preparing to send to the Congress draft legislation which would enable the US to do far more in this regard. The US lives up to, and beyond, its obligation to the UN under the Headquarters Agreement. However, the US has, not been able fully to discharge its obligations to the UN in one basic respect inasmuch as the Congress has failed to date to accede to the Convention on Privileges and Immunities.

In the distribution of the burden of costs of the UN among members, the US has maintained that, for the good of the organization, the principle of capacity to pay must be qualified by the imposition of a reasonable maximum on the percentage share any one member will be assigned. The General Assembly has endorsed the principle of a limitation on the maximum contribution and has indicated that in normal times the maximum should be thirty-three and one-third percent. At the last session of the General Assembly the US secured a small reduction in its percentage contribution as a first step toward the implementation of the principle.

With respect to the budget and organization of the Secretariat, the US has pressed for every economy consistent with a steady advancement toward UN goals, and has worked strongly for integration of the various divisions and sections of the Secretariat into an effective operating team. With respect to the relations of the UN to the Specialized Agencies, the US has advocated as complete a coordination as is possible within the terms of reference of their constitutions and [Page 43] without sacrificing the basic advantages of decentralization which have been felt from the outset to be inherent in the UN system as now constituted. As a consequence, the US is strongly supporting devices such as the Administrative Coordinating Committee, the review of Specialized Agency budgets by the UN, etc. Similarly, the US has pressed for the adoption of common administrative practices where, as in the case of pensions, basic issues of equal treatment for international civil servants, regardless of agency, are involved; and where, as in the case of audit procedures, basic questions of financial custodianship are involved.

5. international law and the international court of justice

It is the policy of the US to recognize the binding force of international law, both customary and treaty. It is further the policy of the US to advance the rule of law in international relations as an important means of achieving a stable international society. For the furtherance of this end the US favors, in principle, the utilization of the International Court of Justice in legal matters for the determination of disputes and for the building up of a body of jurisprudence as a guide to the conduct of international relations. We favor the efforts of the International Law Commission further to develop and codify international law.

The US encourages the general acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction of the Court under Article 36(2) of its Statute and, to this end, the Department may recommend to Congress that this Government perfect its own Declaration accepting this jurisdiction upon its expiration in 1951.

C. Relations of Other Members With UN

1. the other great powers

The UK and France have not contributed as much leadership as has the US toward development of the UN. Both have tended toward narrow interpretations of the authority of the UN. Although both have generally gone along with the US proposal for abolition of the veto on membership, neither has been willing to accept the US proposal for abolition of the veto in Chapter VI. As colonial powers, both have been critical of some UN activities with respect to dependent peoples.

The Soviet Union has never participated wholeheartedly in the UN but always in a mood that has been obstructionist, inflexible, isolationist, suspicious, rigidly legalistic, and generally uncooperative. Its position on most questions has from the beginning been fixed and rigid. It joined only four Specialized Agencies from one of which it [Page 44] has since resigned. It has used the UN extensively as a propaganda medium.

2. formation and behavior of blocs

The Soviet Union and its satellites have consistently voted as a small but solid minority bloc, following the Soviet line with monotonous regularity.

Since Yugoslavia ceased to be a satellite member of the Cominform it has been making an effort to display independence of any group.

Most other members generally tend to support the US on the basic issues of war and peace, although on various other particular issues given members may differ with us. The majority in support of US leadership has steadily increased, culminating in the affirmative vote of the entire non-Soviet world on the Essentials of Peace Resolution in the last session of the GA. A fair appraisal would have to add, however, that the majority support of US positions has occasionally been a reluctant one. It turned against us on our proposal to suspend the UNAEC in 1948. This majority is thus one which is not automatic but depends on the nature of our own policy. Obvious cold war moves by the Western powers meet resistance, even among our friends. A policy which clearly benefits the world community of nations, however, can always be expected to gain strong support.

There have also developed definite voting blocs of smaller groups within the majority. The Arab states and the Latin American states are two groups that tend to vote as blocs on issues touching their particular group interests. The NAT countries tend increasingly to vote similarly on some questions, although this is by no means a general rule. At the last GA in the case of Jerusalem there was an unusual combination of the Soviet Union and certain Latin American and Arab states, which succeeded in winning a majority contrary to the wishes of both the US and the UK, but this was a case in which the US did not take the lead.

D. Policy Evaluation

To evaluate the success of the UN as an institution in moving towards the objectives expressed in its Charter, it is necessary to consider separately its functions in the different fields of (a) security, (b) peaceful settlement, (c) economic and social progress, (d) trusteeship, and (e) multilateral diplomacy.

At its inception in 1945 hopes were high that this new attempt to further the fragile concept of collective security would be more successful than previous attempts. It was hoped, if not expected, that this one would be aided by at least some continued collaboration of [Page 45] the big powers allied during the war—hopes which have since been severely disappointed.

Nevertheless, as has been recognized from the beginning, the successful functioning of the UN depends upon the existence of relative war-making capabilities of the great powers such that no one great power can dare commit aggression if the others stand ready to enforce the Principles of the Charter. Mr. Stettinius declared to the Congress in 1945 that “if one of the permanent members ever embarked upon a course of aggression, a major war would result, no matter what the membership and voting provisions of the Security Council might be.”

The UN contributes to world security in part through its mere existence, which, like a catalytic agent, marshalls morally if not materially, and makes immediately manifest, those latent natural forces which might ultimately react against an aggressor if there were no UN. There is no likelihood within the foreseeable future of any regulation of armaments or control of atomic energy, both of which would be indispensable to an effective security system. Similarly, there is little prospect that armed forces as envisaged under Article 43 will become available to the UN. Apparent progress in the security field had thus been limited until the North Korean aggression in June 1950. The prompt, vigorous, and successful UN action to repel that aggression has now aroused renewed hope for further progress in the security field, including development for this purpose of the functions of the GA, where there is no veto. As an instrument through which to focus the searchlight of world public opinion on potential aggressors, it has been an important factor for peace, even against big-power aggression, as was demonstrated in the case of Iran. In addition, if led by the US, it furnishes the only basis for securing cooperation of the whole community outside the aggressor itself.

As machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes, it has been far more successful. It has repeatedly settled disputes, prevented disputes from turning into conflicts, and has halted small conflicts before they could become conflicts of major proportions. Palestine was an example of an especially explosive case of this kind. Indonesia was an example of a conflict even involving an important European power being turned by wise UN mediation and statesmanship into the creation of a new nation in peaceful union with that European state. Through its trusteeship machinery, and provisions of the charter dealing with non-self-governing peoples, the UN has contributed substantially toward the development of workable arrangements for underdeveloped and dependent areas which otherwise might become trouble spots and sources of national rivalry for strategic position, threatening world peace and security.

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In the economic and social field, machinery of the UN and its specialized agencies can be, and is being, used steadily and increasingly, even if less spectacularly, to coordinate and develop programs for economic and social betterment which will help to remove the causes of war and which will lay the groundwork for more effective institutionalization of the interests of the international community. In this field, unlike that of security, progress is possible without regard to Soviet non-participation.

As an instrument of multilateral diplomacy—as a meeting-place of the nations—the UN has served as a unique and irreplaceable forum for the conduct of international relations of multilateral interest and for the expression of those policies of the US and other members that are of world-wide interest. It has enabled the Soviet and non-Soviet worlds to continue to discuss and negotiate with each other concerning mutual problems when other vehicles of communication between them have broken down, as, for example, in the Berlin crisis. The Charter is, in fact, our one basic agreement with the Soviet Union, and Lake Success our best diplomatic channel to the Soviet Government.

Despite its weaknesses as a genuine international security system, the UN is probably a more complete and effective embodiment of the concept of world organization than it would be possible to develop anew now in view of the deterioration of international relations since 1945. It is therefore the practical basis upon which to build toward more complete and effective international organization on a world-wide basis.

  1. An “Introductory Note” read:

    “This paper on the United Nations is intended to complement the regular series of annual country policy reviews. It therefore follows the general outline of those statements although it necessarily differs from them in content to suit the multilateral character of the UN. In order to keep within readable brevity, it is restricted primarily to fundamentals of US policy peculiar to the UN, such as efforts towards general security and the maintenance of peace to avoid duplicating material available in other forms. Much material on specific UN efforts towards peaceful settlement and other political activity is contained in separate country policy statements on Greece, Trieste, Iran, Israel, the Arab countries, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Korea, Spain, China, Italy, and Germany (the Berlin crisis), and is not repeated here.”

  2. This paper deals primarily with the UN rather than the UN system as a whole, but many of its observations are applicable to the specialized agencies as well as to the UN proper. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. As a result of the Korean crisis UN armed forces have been formed on an ad hoc basis. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Spain is debarred from membership by a resolution of 1946. [Footnote in the source text.]