206. Editorial Note

On December 2, the United States, together with 13 other nations, submitted draft resolution A/3413 for consideration by the General Assembly. It stated in the operative paragraphs that the General Assembly:

  • “1. Reiterates its call upon the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Hungarian authorities to comply with the above resolutions and to permit United Nations observers to enter the territory of Hungary, to travel freely therein, and to report their findings to the Secretary-General;
  • “2. Requests the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Hungarian authorities to communicate to the Secretary-General not later than 7 December 1956 their consent to receive United Nations observers;
  • “3. Recommends that in the meantime the Secretary-General arrange for the immediate dispatch to Hungary and other countries as appropriate of observers named by him pursuant to paragraph 4 of resolution 1004 (ES-II);
  • “4. Requests all Governments of Member States to cooperate with the representatives named by the Secretary-General by extending such assistance and providing such facilities as may be necessary for the effective discharge of their responsibilities.”

The Hungarian Government informed the Secretary-General the next day that “permission for United Nations observers to enter the territory of Hungary would violate the sovereignty of Hungary and would be contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter.” It welcomed the opportunity, however, for negotiations with him in Rome or New York where he would “get satisfactory personal information of the situation in Hungary” and it held out the possibility of direct negotiations in Budapest “at a later date appropriate for both parties.” (A/3414) Ambassador Lodge described this offer as “most unsatisfactory.” Speaking on December 3, Lodge emphasized the need for information gathered by “impartial observers on the scene.” In support of the 14-power draft resolution, he asserted “we are confronted by a demonstration of complete contempt for the provisions of the charter and a callous disregard for human decency. It certainly cannot be said that we have proceeded too hastily or that we have not given the Soviet Union and the Hungarian authorities every opportunity to abide by their obligations as members of the United Nations.

“The time has come for one final appeal, but we must set a deadline—a terminal date—for their response. We cannot permit ourselves to be fobbed off, to be stalled. We cannot permit the urgent recommendations of the General Assembly to be utterly disregarded.” (A/PV.604, pages 459–461)

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At the seventh meeting of the United States Delegation on the morning of December 4, Ambassador Wadsworth raised the question of the December 7 deadline incorporated in draft resolution A/3413. He suggested that “if we said to the Soviets ‘you do this by December 7 or else,’ the effect would ‘die like a poached egg.’” It was the sense of the delegation that the Department of State be asked “to examine the potential effects of sanctions” if the deadline was not met. (US/A/M(SR)/56, December 11; Department of State, IO Files)

The Assembly met three times on December 4 to consider the 14-power draft resolution. Hammarskjöld announced that as a result of a meeting he held with Horvath after the second session the Hungarian Representative would suggest to his government that the Secretary-General be welcomed to Budapest on December 16. To prepare the way, Hammarskjöld designated the United Nations Under-Secretary in charge of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Philippe de Seynes, to proceed to Hungary one week ahead of him. Resolution 1130(XI) was adopted shortly thereafter by a vote of 54 to 10 (Hungary and the Soviet Union), with 14 abstentions. (A/PV.608) That same evening, Dragon Protitch, Under-Secretary for Political and Security Council Affairs, told William Saunders of the United States Delegation that it had “been a mistake to rely so heavily on the Secretary-General in the Hungarian situation. He said the Assembly should have created its own committee of observers or investigators.

“He said that it was one thing to rely on the Secretary-General in a case such as the Middle East where the UN was dealing with decent people subjected to public opinion pressures and another thing to rely on him in a situation such as the Hungarian involving the Soviet Union.

“He asked what one could expect, for example, for the Secretary-General to do if he were permitted to go to Hungary. Even if he was able to obtain information from Kadar himself, he obviously would find it very difficult to use it without compromising his ‘neutral’ position.” (Memorandum of conversation by Saunders, US/A/UNNO, December 4; Department of State, IO Files)

On December 12, the Hungarian Government informed the Secretary-General that December 16 was not an appropriate date for a visit by him. It promised to “set forth a proposal” on this matter “at a later date.” (U.N. doc. A/3435/Add.6)