Department of State Disarmament Files: Lot 58 D 133: No. 777–25

Memorandum by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (Lie)1


Memorandum of Points for Consideration in the Development of a 20-Year Program for Achieving Peace Through the United Nations

As Secretary-General, it is my firm belief that a new and great effort must be attempted to end the so-called “cold war” and to set the world once more on a road that will offer greater hope of lasting peace.

The atmosphere of deepening international mistrust can be dissipated and the threat of the universal disaster of another war averted by employing to the full the resources for conciliation and constructive [Page 374] peace-building present in the United Nations Charter.2 The employment of these resources can secure eventual peace if we accept, believe and act upon the possibility of peaceful co-existence among all the Great Powers and the different economic and political systems they represent, and if the Great Powers evidence a readiness to undertake genuine negotiation—not in a spirit of appeasement—but with enlightened self-interest and common sense on all sides.

Measures for collective self-defense and regional remedies of other kinds are at best interim measures, and cannot alone bring any reliable security from the prospect of war. The one common undertaking and universal instrument of the great majority of the human race is the United Nations. A patient, constructive long-term use of its potentialities can bring a real and secure peace to the world. I am certain that such an effort will have the active interest and support of the smaller Member States, who have much to contribute in the conciliation of Big Power differences and in the development of constructive and mutually advantageous political and economic cooperation.

I therefore venture to suggest certain points for consideration in the formulation of a 20-year United Nations Peace Program. Certain of these points call for urgent action. Others are of a long-range nature, requiring continued effort over the next 20 years. I shall not discuss the problems of the peace settlements for Austria, Germany and Japan—because the founders of the United Nations indicated that the peace settlements should be made separately from the United Nations. But I believe that the progress of a United Nations Peace Program such as is here suggested will help to bring these settlements far closer to attainment.

1. Inauguration of periodic meetings of the Security Council,3 attended by foreign ministers, or heads or other members of governments, as provided by the United Nations Charter and the rules of procedure; together with further development and use of other United Nations machinery for negotiation, mediation and conciliation of international disputes.

The periodic meetings of the Security Council provided for in Article 28 of the Charter have never been held. Such periodic meetings should be held semi-annually, beginning with one in 1950. In my opinion, they should be used for a general review at a high level of outstanding issues in the United Nations, particularly those that divide the Great Powers. They should not be expected to produce great decisions every time, they should be used for consultation—much of [Page 375] it in private—for efforts to gain ground toward agreement on questions at issue, to clear up misunderstandings, to prepare for new initiatives that may improve the chances for definitive agreement at later meetings. They should be held away from Headquarters as a general rule, in Geneva, the capitals of the Permanent Members and in other regions of the world.

Further development of the resources of the United Nations for mediation and conciliation should be undertaken, including reestablishment of the regular practice of private consultations by the representatives of the five Great Powers, and a renewed effort to secure agreement by all the Great Powers on limitations on the use of the veto power in the pacific settlement procedures of the Security Council.

2. A new attempt to make progress toward establishing an international control system for atomic energy that will be effective in preventing its use for war and promoting its use for peaceful purposes.4

We cannot hope for any quick or easy solution of this most difficult problem of atomic energy control. The only way to find out what is possible is to resume negotiation in line with the directive of the General Assembly last fall “to explore all possible avenues and examine all concrete suggestions with a view to determining what might lead to an agreement”. Various suggestions for finding a basis for a fresh approach have been put forward. One possibility would be for the Security Council to instruct the Secretary General to call a conference of scientists whose discussions might provide a reservoir of new ideas on the control of weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of peaceful uses of atomic energy that could thereafter be explored in the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. Or, it may be that an interim agreement could be worked out that would at least be some improvement on the present situation of an unlimited atomic arms race, even though it did not afford full security. There are other possibilities for providing the basis for a new start; every possibility should be explored.

3. A new approach to the problem of bringing the armaments race under control, not only in the field of atomic weapons, but in other weapons of mass destruction and in conventional armaments.

Here is another area where it is necessary to re-activate negotiations and to make new efforts at finding some area of common ground. It must be recognized that up to now there has been virtually a complete [Page 376] failure here and that the immediate prospects seem poor indeed. Clearly disarmament requires an atmosphere of confidence in which political disputes are brought nearer to solution. But it is also true that any progress at all towards agreement on the regulation of armaments of any kind would help to reduce cold war tensions and thus assist in the adjustment of political disputes. Negotiation on this problem should not be deferred until the other great political problems are solved, but should go hand-in-hand with any effort to reach political settlements.

4. A renewal of serious efforts to reach agreement on the armed forces to be made available under the Charter to the Security Council for the enforcement of its decisions.

A new approach should be made towards resolving existing differences on the size, location and composition of the forces to be pledged to the Security Council under Article 43 of the Charter. Basic political difficulties which may delay a final solution should not be permitted to stand in the way of some sort of an interim accord for a small force sufficient to prevent or stop localized outbreaks threatening international peace. The mere existence of such a force would greatly enhance the ability of the Security Council to bring about peaceful settlements in most of the cases which are likely to come before it.

5. Acceptance and application of the principle that it is wise and right to proceed as rapidly as possible toward universality of membership.5

Fourteen nations are now awaiting admission to the United Nations. In the interests of the people of these countries and of the United Nations, I believe they should all be admitted, as well as other countries which will attain their independence in the future. It should be made clear that Germany and Japan would also be admitted as soon as the peace treaties have been completed.

6. A sound and active program of technical assistance for economic development and encouragement of broad scale capital investment, using all appropriate private, governmental and intergovernmental resources.6

A technical assistance program is in its beginnings, assisted by the strong support of the President of the United States. Its fundamental purpose is to enable the people of the under-developed countries to raise their standard of living peacefully by specific and practicable measures. It should be a continuing and expanding program for the [Page 377] next 20 years and beyond, carried forward with the cooperation of all Member Governments, largely through the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies with mutual beneficial programs planned and executed on a basis of equality rather than on a basis of charity. Through this means the opportunities can be opened up for capital investment on a large and expanding scale. Here lies one of our best hopes for combating the dangers and costs of the cold war.

7. More vigorous use by all Member Governments of the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations to promote, in the words of the Charter, “higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress.”

The great potentialities of the Specialized Agencies to participate in a long-range program aimed at drastically reducing the economic and social causes of war, can be realized by more active support from all Governments, including the membership of the Soviet Union in some or all of the Agencies to which it does not now belong. The expansion of world trade which is vital to any long-range effort for world betterment requires the early ratification of the Charter of the International Trade Organization.

8. Vigorous and continued development of the work of the United Nations for wider observance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the world.

It is becoming evident that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 19487 without a dissenting vote, is destined to become one of the great documents of history. The United Nations is now engaged on a program that will extend over the next 20 years—and beyond—to secure the extension and wider observance of the political, economic, and social rights there set down. Its success needs the active support of all Governments.

9. Use of the United Nations to promote, by peaceful means instead of by force, the advancement of dependent, colonial or semi-colonial peoples, towards a place of equality in the world.8

The great changes which have been taking place since the end of the war among the peoples of Asia and Africa must be kept within peaceful bounds by using the universal framework of the United Nations. The old relationships will have to be replaced with new ones of equality and fraternity. The United Nations is the only instrument capable of bringing such a transition to pass without violent upheavals [Page 378] and with the best prospect of bringing long-run economic and political benefits to all nations of the world.

10. Active and systematic use of all the powers of the Charter and all the machinery of the United Nations to speed up the development of international law towards an eventual enforceable world law for a universal world society.9

These three last points deal with programs already under way to carry out important principles of the United Nations Charter. They respond to basic human desires and aspirations and coordinated efforts by all Governments to further these programs are indispensable to the eventual peaceful stabilization of international relations. There are many specific steps which need to be taken for example, under Point 10, ratification of the Genocide Convention, greater use of the International Court of Justice, and systematic development and codification of international law. More important is that Governments should give high priority in their national policies to the continued support and development of these ideals which are at the foundation of all striving of the peoples for a better world.

What is here proposed is only an outline of preliminary proposals for a program; much more development will be needed. It is self-evident that every step mentioned, every proposal made, will require careful and detailed, even laborious preparation, negotiation and administration. It is equally self-evident that the necessary measure of agreement will be hard to realize most of the time, and even impossible some of the time. Yet the world can never accept the thesis of despair—the thesis of irrevocable and irreconcilable conflict.

  1. For United Nations published documentation on the Secretary-General’s peace program, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Annexes, vol. ii, fascicule 60; hereafter cited as GA (V), Annexes, vol. ii.
  2. Signed at San Francisco, June 26, 1945; for text, see 59 Stat. 1031 or Department of State Treaty Series No. 993.
  3. Documentation on this proposal is scheduled for publication in volume i.
  4. Documentation on this subject is scheduled for publication in volume i.
  5. For documentation on this issue, see pp. 87 ff.
  6. Documentation regarding the general policy of the United States with respect to technical assistance is scheduled for publication in volume i.
  7. Documentation on this subject is included in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 1, pp. 289 ff.
  8. For documentation on the U.S. attitude regarding problems relating to dependent territories, see pp. 434 ff.
  9. The United States played a decisive role in the inception of this program; see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. i, pp. 525 ff.