A/MS files, lot 54 D 291 (V), “UNA/P master file”

Paper Prepared by the United Nations Planning Staff, Bureau of United Nations Affairs


Admission of New Members Into the United Nations

character of the issue

The Cold War has come to predominate the matter of admission of new members, although Charter considerations have also been an important factor. The matter has been deadlocked in reality since 1946 because the USSR has persistently used its veto power in the SC against all except a carefully selected few non-Soviet candidates for admission, while the five Soviet candidates have never received seven favorable SC votes. Moreover, among Member States outside the Soviet bloc there are various positions vis-à-vis the influence which Cold War considerations and the criteria established by Charter Article 4 should have in determining decisions on admission to membership.


Article 4 declares that membership in the UN is open to all “peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations”, upon “a decision of the General Assembly upon recommendation of the Security Council”.* At San Francisco the founders formulated Article 4 with the intent of achieving qualified universality; but the requirement that the SC approve all applications has permitted the USSR to frustrate achievement of the goal.

Although as originally conceived the UN was destined to become practically, if not wholly, a universal organization, one where every state would have a voice, early dissipation of the “one-world” concept as a result of Soviet foreign policy, and its replacement by the Cold War, gave to the question of membership an entirely different turn than originally conceived. While the free world has taken its stand on sound Charter grounds against admission of Soviet-favored applicants, the fact that they were indeed Soviet bloc members, plus the fact that the USSR has indiscriminately vetoed non-Soviet bloc applicants, have made of the membership question one of the several facets of the Cold War as waged in the UN. An examination of [Page 152]rosters of both the nine states admitted to and the nineteen rejected for membership, discloses the strong influence of the Cold War; moreover, in the light of the criteria of Article 4 the majority of free world states has found it impossible to approve admission of Soviet satellites. The nine applicants with regard to whom the USSR forebore to exercise its veto are those states where the USSR apparently hoped for or expected at least neutralist tendencies, engendered by either strong revulsion from colonialism in the cases of Arab-Asian applicants, or strong post-war local Communist parties in the cases of Iceland, Israel, and Sweden.

The USSR has used its veto 28 times to block the admission of 14 of the 19 rejectees, all 14 of which the GA has determined to be qualified. The remaining 5 rejectees, all Soviet-sponsored, have neither received the seven votes required for an SC recommendation, nor been found qualified by the GA. Besides the 19 rejectees, the North Korean and Vietminh regimes have submitted communications purporting to be membership applications. In recent years the Soviet Union has proposed that nine of the non-Soviet applicants be admitted simultaneously with the five Soviet-sponsored candidates, always making clear, however, that it would continue to use its veto to block admission of the non-Soviet applicants unless its own candidates were also admitted.

The majority, including the US, on the SC has not accepted the Soviet package deal proposal, and as the USSR has persisted in vetoing non-Soviet applicants individually, the membership question has remained deadlocked. The GA repeatedly has requested that the veto not be used on membership applications, and that members base their votes exclusively on the conditions contained in Charter Article 4; but the USSR has ignored the requests.

The large majority of UN members have become ever more concerned with the stalemate, and the Seventh Session of the GA established a Special Committee to review the problem and report to the Eighth Session. To end the deadlock various proposals have been made in the UN, some (Latin American ideas) designed to have the GA take independent action to admit applicants vetoed by the Soviet Union, and others (principally supported by Scandinavian and Arab-Asian members) designed to give effect now to the principle of universality by admitting a large number of applicants, both Soviet and non-Soviet, under existing procedures. Moreover, within the US Government consideration has been given to amendment of Article 4, and also [Page 153]to the matter of non-voting participation in the GA for applicants excluded by Soviet veto.

united states policies

The US started its activities in the UN by advocating the thesis of universal membership as the ultimate goal, in 1946 even announcing readiness to overlook certain doubts about qualifications under Article 4 of Albania and Outer Mongolia and vainly proposing that all eight applicants§ at that time be admitted en bloc. However, upon realization that its proposal would not be accepted, the US withdrew it and voted against the Albanian and Mongolian applications. Since then the US has followed a policy of exclusion of Soviet satellite states on the ground that they did not qualify under Article 4 of the Charter as “peaceloving” states able and willing to carry out their obligations under the Charter. But other equally important factors have been the fears that admission of these states would: (1) place upon their Communist puppet regimes seals of approbation undesirable for a variety of reasons, including possible discouragement of populations still looking with hope to the West; (2) increase Soviet obstructive capabilities in the UN; (3) be opposed by strong domestic congressional and popular opinions, and (4) create an encouragement, through admission of Outer Mongolia, for the USSR to create other sham states along its periphery.

While favoring admission of all non-Soviet applicants, the US has strongly condemned the recent Soviet package proposal as: 1) contrary to the Charter principle, supported by an ICJ opinion, that each applicant should be considered separately on its own merits, and 2) including 5 unqualified applicants while omitting other and fully qualified ones. With respect to the veto, the US has repeatedly announced that, while it would not veto any application which had received seven or more votes in the SC, it regards a recommendation on admission to be a substantive question, hence subject to veto. However, the US has not yet had to face giving practical effect to this policy because no Soviet satellite has yet received in the SC as many as seven votes.

some major difficulties confronting the united states

The US desires very much to obtain admission of Japan, Italy, and other states; and their governments strongly desirous of membership have repeatedly pressed the US for aid in overcoming their frustration. Under existing membership procedures, a political settlement providing for admission of a large number of applicants, both Soviet and non-Soviet, might be the only way to achieve their admission.

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Some other arguments that are made in favor of such settlement are:

Because the UN was conceived to become eventually a universal organization, continuation of the membership stalemate builds up an atmosphere of depression and frustration in the UN;
A substantial increase in membership should add to the prestige of the UN, especially as, becoming more nearly universally representative, its actions would acquire greater moral sanction;
Soviet bloc states, having accepted Charter obligations, could be made more accountable if inside rather than outside the UN; and
Admission of Soviet bloc states would bring some benighted Communists into touch with non-Communist ways and ideas, and conceivably might also strengthen the position of domestic elements in those states opposed to Moscow domination.

Some of the arguments that are made against such settlement are:

Willingness to admit further Soviet bloc states might make it more difficult to maintain support for the US position on Chinese representation;
Admission of further Soviet satellites without solid concessions by the USSR in the field of its contentions with the US would be inconsonant with the general policy laid down by the President in his speech April 16, 1953.
Admission of further Soviet bloc states might be interpreted as tacit acquiescence by the UN in their present status, and might have an unfortunate effect upon the peoples in these states opposed to the present regimes;
The admission of Outer Mongolia would serve to give some sanction to Soviet efforts to organize Asia into psuedo-“states”;
It probably would be impossible to obtain Soviet agreement to admit all of the states which in the view of the US should be included in any agreement, viz, Republic of Korea;
A reapplication of Article 4 so as to bring within the UN all current applicants would provoke strong and even outraged opposition from substantial elements of the population and certain members of Congress; and
A reapplication of Article 4 might appear to the Soviet Government and others as confirmation of the proposition that persistent efforts can eventually overcome strong US objections in principle.

The (Latin American) proposals to override or ignore the Soviet veto in the UN would achieve admission for most, if not all applicants that we favor; but the majority of UN members including the US have believed that the proposals are contrary to the Charter. Furthermore, there are fears that adoption of such proposals might both lead to eventual infringement of US interests in the veto, and also provoke the USSR to withhold participation in, if not withdraw from, the UN.

attitudes of certain states

UK –France—These states have publicly opposed, but less forcefully than the US, a political settlement; and in the past in private discussions [Page 155]have indicated greater disposition than the US to explore the possibilities of a political settlement. Although expanding UN concern with colonial problems in recent years has restrained France from favoring admission of all pending applicants, most of which would vote against colonial interests, there has been a recent slight indication of renewed French interest in re-examining the problem of en bloc admission.

Latin American States—These states have tended to favor proposals to circumvent the Soviet veto to admit non-Soviet applicants, especially Italy; but with several exceptions they have favored exclusion of further Soviet applicants. However, many Latin American states might accept a package deal, especially if the US changed its position in order to favor one.

Arab-Asian States—Most of these states favor universality, as well as a political settlement making possible admission of both Soviet and non-Soviet applicants. Generally, they view the membership problem apart from the Cold War; and, overlooking the preeminent role of the US in that struggle, are inclined to blame the US for the stalemate.

Canada—Recently Canada has indicated that it considers the Membership question to be political in character, suggesting a willingness to weigh a package deal.

Scandinavia—Scandinavian Member States have generally favored universality, and, moreover, have felt that Europe is heavily under-represented in the UN. They would acquiesce in additional Soviet bloc members in order to enlarge European representation by admission of a substantial group of non-Soviet European states.

China—This state probably might veto any recommendation of an application by Outer Mongolia.


The US can expect strong pressure at the 8th GA to break the membership stalemate through either direct GA action in favor of selected applicants and regardless of SC action, or political agreement directed to admission of a large number of applicants, both Soviet and non-Soviet. Most likely interest will center on the latter alternative. Moreover, the intensified Soviet peace offensive will serve to increase the pressure especially if material progress is made towards resolving other Cold War matters.

  1. The International Court of Justice has given two advisory opinions on Article 4. In the first, it said that a Member, while recognizing that a state fulfills the conditions of Article 4, cannot subject its favorable vote on the admission of that state to the additional condition that other states be admitted simultaneously. In the second, the Court advised that the General Assembly cannot admit a state in the absence of a favorable SC recommendation. [Footnote in the source text.]
  2. (a)
    Admitted: Afghanistan, Burma, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Sweden, Thailand, and Yemen.
    Rejected: Austria, Cambodia, Ceylon, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Libya, Nepal, Portugal, Vietnam, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, and Outer Mongolia. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. Austria, Ceylon, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Nepal and Portugal. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Afghanistan, Albania, Eire, Iceland, Outer Mongolia, Portugal, Sweden, and Trans-Jordan. [Footnote in the source text.]