In the absence of Mr. Pearson and Mr. Martin, I am sending you our tentative assessment of the work of the second half of the Assembly, which began on February 24.
2. The Session which was recessed on April 23, may not have been "the turning point in history" which the Chairman of the First Committee, Mr. Muniz,13 hoped, but it did reflect a decided and at times dramatic improvement in the political climate. In the final week of the Assembly two resolutions on important political subjects were adopted unanimously -- an unprecedented development in the history of the United Nations. As Sir Gladwyn Jebb, acting as President of the General Assembly at its closing Session said, the latter part of the Session had shown an "objectivity and good temper" on the part of all delegations which. had made the present phase of our work "on the whole happy and satisfactory". The improved atmosphere was indeed a good augury for the speedy conclusion of an armistice in Korea which was the central hope and objective of all delegations, even including, insofar as one could judge from. appearances, the Soviet Delegation.
3. The second half of the Assembly was not, of course, all sweetness and light. Only two or three weeks after Stalin's death and Malenkov's conciliatory statements on taking office was there a noticeable improvement in the tenor of Soviet statements. Indeed even under the Polish item which was one of the last to be discussed, Vishinsky reverted to propaganda themes concerning the one-third cut in the armed forces of the Great Powers, the iniquities of NATO and the need for a Five-Power Pact, all of which have been trotted out as part of the regular Soviet routine for the past four years. On the final day of the Assembly the Soviet Delegation maintained its opposition to the establishment of a United Nations Commission, consisting of representatives of Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Sweden, and Uruguay, to investigate the charges of bacteriological warfare having been used in Korea -- an attitude of falsification and concealment which the United States Representative, Mr. Gross,14 in his final appearance before the Assembly, did not hesitate to call "iniquitous". It is also true that none of the gestures which were made by the Soviet Delegation cost them very much. Neither side, in fact gave anything away. It was chiefly because an exchange of civilities and occasional unanimity are such extraordinary occurrences in the United Nations that they attracted so much attention and raised hopes which have in the past been pretty steadily pinned down under the customary barrage of propaganda and abuse.
4. The grounds for hope and encouragement were these:
(a) the withdrawal of the Polish resolution (on Korea, Disarmament and NATO) and the unanimous adoption of a Brazilian resolution noting the new Chinese proposals for a solution of the prisoner of war question and hoping that the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners would be followed by an early armistice consistent with United Nations principles and objectives;
(b) the unanimous adoption (China abstaining) of a Mexican resolution which deplored the presence of Chinese forces in Burma, condemned their hostile acts and called for their disarmament and their withdrawal or internment;
(c) the almost unanimous appointment of Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld as Secretary-General, China alone voting against the Security Council's recommendation in the Assembly;
(d) the restraint shown by the Soviet Delegation in not exploiting to the full for propaganda purposes some issues before the Burmese item. The Soviet spokesmen confined themselves to attacking the Government of Formosa and did not charge the United States with supplying men and equipment to the Chinese Forces in Burma;
(e) the relative but not total absence of offensive language from Soviet bloc statements made during the last three weeks of the Assembly and the ingratiating and even playful tone of some of Mr. Vishinsky's last statements;
(f) contrary to customary practice, some Czech and Polish delegates who could speak Russian addressed the Assembly in English, Spanish or French;
(g) members of the Soviet bloc delegations were occasionally seen in safe numbers in the delegates' lounge, although they kept to themselves.
5. These were the symptoms in the Assembly of the evident change in tactics initiated by the new leaders of the Soviet Union, shortly after they assumed power. The change not only affected the Assembly's discussion of East-West issues but made itself felt on a number of side issues. The most important of these was anti-semitism. Instead of a slam-bang debate under either the Czech or the Polish items, or both, in which the Israeli and United States delegations had expected to take the offensive in denouncing the growing evidences of anti-semitism in the Soviet bloc, there was little more than a perfunctory debate on this subject, because of the announcement on April 4 of the Soviet Government's decision to release the Jewish doctors in Moscow and its admission that the evidence against them had been trumped up. This was taken by the Israeli and other delegations as a hopeful sign that anti-semitism (or perhaps more correctly anti-zionism) behind the Iron Curtain was at least temporarily being stopped. The heated exchanges on anti-semitism took place between Israel and the Arabs and not between the East and West.
6. The Assembly's reaction to these Soviet blandishments was more restrained than some delegations such as the United States had at first expected would be the case. There was no serious effort made even by enthusiastic mediators such as Mr. Menon and Mr. Palarl5 to try to bring the Korean negotiations directly into the Assembly. Natural hopes were prevented from becoming inflated by a very general scepticism based on previous experience of Soviet performance. For example, the Soviet attempt to woo the Assembly into allowing the United Nations atomic energy plan and the terms of reference for the Disarmament Commission approved by the majority in Paris last year to lapse, failed, although it got a considerably larger vote (10 in favour and 13 abstentions) than would otherwise have been the case. The Assembly secured unanimity on the Korean and Burmese resolutions by accepting only minor modifications to meet the Soviet position.
7. The outstanding fact, however, was that not only had Soviet statesmen changed their tune, but the Soviet Delegation seemed ready to go out of its way in order to vote for a political resolution supported by Western Powers. In the past Soviet representatives have gone out of their way to vote against what seemed to be the most anodyne resolution supported by the West, even on technical and still more on political matters.
8. The general reason for this was clearly the new "peace offensive" initiated. by Malenkov in his statements on March 9 and 15. A secondary reason may well have been the position into which the Soviet Delegation had already been manoeuvred during the earlier part of the Session. The prelude to the two unanimous resolutions was a series of Assembly resolutions, in which the Soviet bloc had been effectively isolated with only three or four abstainers. This process had begun with the Indian resolution on Korea adopted by the General Assembly on December 3 last by 54 votes to 5 with 1 abstention and had continued at the resumed session with similar votes on the following subjects:
(a) a resolution on Korea adopted in March, calling on all members to continue within their means to help Korean relief and reconstruction (55-5-0);
(b) a resolution asking for Eastern European cooperation in an effort to secure the repatriation of members of the Greek armed forces still being held in satellite countries (54-5-0);
(c) a resolution on Collective Measures continuing the United Nations work in the field of collective security (50-5-2);
(d) a resolution on disarmament continuing the Disarmament Commission and reaffirming the majority principles under which it operates (52-5-3);
(e) a resolution establishing a Commission to investigate charges of bacteriological warfare, if the Chinese and North Koreans agreed to let it in (51-5-4).
9. The Soviet Delegation was therefore in effect faced as never before with the alternative of isolation or getting on the Assembly band wagon. Without much effort or dislocation on its part, it finally took the opportunity which everyone was ready to give it of voting for two resolutions. By doing so it demonstrated that a more cooperative Soviet policy in the general Assembly could be more effective than the traditional Billingsgate.
10. Although as I have said, the Assembly kept its head when the peace doves were let loose, I think Mr. Vishinsky must by now realize that he has discovered that the olive branch can be mightier than the birching rod. His gestures in the closing days of the Assembly won him the fulsome gratitude not only of several Asian delegates, notably Mr. Krishna Menon of India, but even of others such as Mr. Belaunde of Peru. I had some sympathy with Mr. Gross when he said that in his opinion the occasion called more for hope than for gratitude. As a member of the United States Delegation put it privately when the Polish resolution was withdrawn, Mr. Vishinsky and Mr. Skrzeszewski16 were receiving the plaudits of the Assembly for withdrawing a poisonous resolution which should never have been tabled in the first place, and which, had it been put to the vote, would have been almost unanimously rejected. Similarly the unanimous resolution on Korea, coinciding as it did with the agreement reached al Panmunjom on the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war, probably led Arab and Asian delegations and some others to, read more into the gesture than was perhaps warranted.
11. A more welcome sign of the new Soviet attitude was their affirmative vote for the appointment of a pro-Western Swedish diplomat, Mr. Hammarskjöld, as Secretary-General This vote was perhaps to some extent an indication of the Soviet Government's intense dislike of Mr. Lie and their determination to pay a price for his removal. There was general disappointment that the price they were willing to pay was not high enough to accept Mr. Pearson as Secretary-General. Vague hints earlier in the year had encouraged many people to hope for this. Nevertheless the Soviet stand against the election of a member of any bloc once the candidate of their own bloc had been defeated is consistent and understandable, although regrettable.
12. In the course of my analysis of the Soviet peace gestures as reflected in the United Nations, I have touched on most of the subjects which came before the Assembly during these past two months. The items were for the most part not of great importance in themselves and I will not attempt any detailed assessment of them here. They were the leftovers of the Assembly's political agenda and at the resumed session, at which only the Political Committee was reconstituted, they were dealt with for the most part by permanent delegations. Our agenda in fact presented a rather unpromising assortment of topics, ranging from bacteriological warfare charges, and charges of United States subversion in Eastern Europe through subjects that had already been dealt with exhaustively at the previous Session such as Korea, and matters which in present circumstances required little more than routine attention by the Assembly such as Collective Measures and Disarmament. As the final item on the agenda there was a Polish omnibus item which included under the heading "measure to avert the threat of a new world war and strengthen peace and friendship among the nations", a rehash of Soviet propaganda lines on all the major political issues which had already been before the Assembly under individual items.
13. There was also the delicate and difficult question of the Secretary-General's personnel policies affecting to an important degree the morale of the Secretariat.
14. The earlier debates at the resumed session, and especially those on Korea, were dreary enough. No one had much to say that was new. In familiar vein Mr. Vishinsky lashed out at the new government of the United States as a "warmongering clique of Wall Street imperialists" and fired off his usual broadside of newspaper clippings and Congressional quotations to, sustain his case that the United States was seeking to extend the war in the Far East.
15. With a crispness which was new and refreshing, the new United States Representative, Mr. Lodge, adopted the practice of quick extemporaneous rebuttals of Soviet charges, but since his government's position was to stand pat on the Indian resolution, he too had nothing more to offer the Assembly on Korea. It was not until the Chou En-lai proposals of March 30 that the Assembly's debate on this subject acquired much interest or significance. Even then, it was the consensus of the Assembly that the negotiation of a Korean armistice should take place at Panmunjom, and that the General Assembly should intervene in the actual conduct of negotiations only in the event of a further breakdown of the Panmunjom talks. The final resolution of the Assembly therefore called for the Assembly to resume its Session (now technically recessed) in the event of an armistice or if "other considerations" (meaning a deadlock at Panmunjom) should in the opinion of the majority require it.
16. The debate on the Secretary-General's personnel policies was complicated by the fact that while it was being held no one knew who would be the next Secretary-General or indeed whether Mr. Lie might not after all be asked to continue if the Great Powers failed to reach agreement. The nub of the personnel question was really how to sustain morale in the Secretariat and at the same time satisfy to some extent the political requirements of the host country. Both these essential features depended largely on the quality of the man appointed as Secretary-General and on public confidence in his judgement both in the United States and in the Secretariat. There is little question that Mr. Lie had lost the confidence of the Secretariat and of many delegations. The debate on abstract principles was therefore to some extent unreal, the more so as all delegations suffered considerable inhibitions in what they were prepared to say publicly. They were reluctant to criticize Mr. Lie frankly, because he might continue as Secretary-General. In any case the criticism which many delegations felt was justified concerned more what the Secretary-General had done in practice rather than his formulation of the principles of personnel policy which were the formal subject of the debate. These principles were in fact largely unexceptionable, with two or three important exceptions which the Canadian, New Zealand, Netherlands, French and Scandinavian Delegations did not hesitate to state in plain terms. For these reasons the debate was on the whole less constructive than it might have been, and the criticisms which were generally expressed did little to repair the damaged morale of the Secretariat.
17. The appointment of Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld, however, did more to recreate a steady and businesslike atmosphere in the Secretariat overnight than the days spent debating the Secretary-General's personnel policies in the abstract. There is no question but that he has made a favourable impression and a good start.
18. Whereas the first half of the General Assembly was stalled by the change in the United States Government, the major event of the second half was the change in the leadership of the Soviet Government. These two events, combined with an apparent readiness displayed on both sides to settle at least some of the outstanding issues, commencing with the Korean war, has given delegations new hope in the work of the United Nations. The United States response to the Soviet peace gestures in the form of President Eisenhower's proposals of April 16, together with the assurances of the spokesmen of both sides in the United Nations that they were ready to go halfway to meet the other, has reminded delegates once more of the spirit in which this organization was conceived.
19. I think it is fair to say, however, that most delegations with whom we are in close touch would foresee little if any likelihood of the early settlement of outstanding issues outlined by President Eisenhower, though there is certainly a real determination to achieve whatever limited accommodations are practicable. Indeed there was some impatience that the United States seemed at first to be hesitant about resuming full-dress negotiations at Panmunjom -- a feeling which Mr. Vishinsky was quick to exploit.
20. While the change in Soviet tactics seems promising, it should not be overlooked that in regard to both European questions and long-range Far Eastern questions the Soviet Union may believe, and have some grounds for believing, that Western unity in the United Nations is more likely to be undermined by a conciliatory than by a threatening Soviet posture. Mr. Vishinsky spoke of "tunnelling halfway" to meet us but some delegates wondered whether such tunnelling might not be the most effective form of Soviet political warfare in the United Nations. Although the effects would naturally wear off if unanimous resolutions became the fashion rather than the exception, Soviet delegations could probably count for some time on securing greater concessions to their point of view by holding out the promise of a unanimous vote than by any other means. Moreover agreement on a resolution is an inexpensive gesture to make with, as this Assembly showed, an excellent return in goodwill. As Mr. Pearson pointed out in his final session as President, "we know from. experience that resolutions are not always the same as solutions". Although everyone was encouraged and hopeful at the end of the Assembly, there was still no concrete evidence that the Soviet Union wished to arrive at a general détente with the West, although it did seem, by all the omens, genuinely anxious to end the Korean war.
21. The main cloud on the otherwise promising sky during the last few days of the session was the news of the setting up of a "Free Thai People's Government" in Yunnan and the invasion of Laos by Viet Minh forces. Acting on her own, Laos appealed to the United Nations, but her appeal has not yet been received and will probably be referred to the French Government when it is, as France is responsible for the conduct of her foreign affairs, and is not anxious to involve the United Nations in Indo China.
22. In a small way, however, Indo China last week got involved in the United Nations. The King of Cambodia, also acting on his own, was discovered placidly queuing up for a guided tour of the United Nations buildings.
DAVID M. JOHNSON
13João Carlos Muniz, repésentant permanent du Brésil auprès des Nations Unies.
João Carlos Muniz, Permanent Representative of Brazil to United Nations.
14Ernest A. Gross, représentant suppléant des États-Unis auprès des Nations Unies et représentant suppléant auprès du Conseil de sécurité jusqu'au 19 février.
Ernest A. Gross, Deputy Representative of United States to United Nations and Deputy Representative on Security Council until February 19.
15L.N. Palar, représentant permanent de l'Indonésie auprès des Nations Unies; chef adjoint de la délégation à la septième session de l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies.
L.N. Palar, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to United Nations; Vice-Chairman, Delegation to Seventh Session of General Assembly of United Nations.
16Stanislaw Skrzeszewski, ministre des Affaires étrangères de Pologne, chef de la délégation à la septième session et à la huitième session de l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies.
Dr. Stanislaw Skrzeszewski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland; Chairman, Delegation to Seventh and Eighth Sessions of General Assembly of United Nations.