Volume #13 - 411.|
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
HAVANA TRADE CONFERENCE
Consul General in New York|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
SECRET. MOST IMMEDIATE.
July 31st, 1947|
ECSOC NO. 12.|
Please repeat to London for Wilgress and to Canadian Delegation at Geneva. Following from Arnold Smith for Riddell, Begins: A very important question has arisen in connection with the summoning of a World Trade Conference in Havana.70 The Interim Report (Document E(469)† from the Preparatory Committee — that is the Geneva Trade Conference — recommended that 12 States non-members of United Nations "should be invited." These include Switzerland, Eire,. Italy and Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe. Geneva also recommended that Burma, Ceylon and Southern Rhodesia, under the sovereignty of a member of United Nations but self-governing in matters provided for in the draft Trade Charter, should be "invited to participate in the work of the Conference." There was a third recommendation that provision should be made for "the attendance of persons qualified to represent the appropriate authorities in Germany, Japan and Korea."
2. The Preparatory Committee's report made no recommendation regarding voting rights for any of these categories.
3. The question whether these special invitees should have voting rights arose in plenary on Tuesday, and at Canada's suggestion was referred without debate to Committee of the Whole. United States delegation intended to oppose giving voting rights to all these categories, and if this was not accepted, to demand a separate decision for each country invited. They would then insist that voting rights should not be given to certain countries, especially east-European and countries not fully sovereign such as Burma. The members of the United Kingdom delegation, with the exception of Stephen Holmes (who has just arrived from Geneva) originally favoured no voting rights for non-United Nations members, but were persuaded by Holmes to support voting rights for all categories, and this is now their official position. France and several other countries were prepared to allow young rights to fully sovereign States whether United Nations members or not, but were strongly opposed to voting rights for Burma, etc.
4. On the general principle of voting rights for non-United Nations members, an analogous question had arisen a few days ago in connection with invitations to the World Conference on Freedom of the Press and Information. On this occasion all delegations seemed likely to support a proposal that only United Nations members should vote. With the I.T.O. in mind and desiring time to consider the question, Canada had this question referred to Committee which has not yet dealt with it.
5. Mr. Martin and I have discussed this matter at length. We tried to contact you by telephone but were unsuccessful.
6. We feel that on balance the clear advantage is to support the general principle that only United Nations members should vote at the Havana Trade Conference and other comparable conferences. Our reasons are as follows:
The Council decided several sessions ago that only United Nations members could vote at the World Health Conference which drew up the constitution of the World Health Organization. This did not in fact preclude non-United Nations members from joining W.M.O. — in which, of course, they do have voting rights. The Council decided that non-United Nations members would not have voting rights on Economic Commission for Europe. The question has recently arisen at the meeting of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (report of Committee of Whole document #/491, P.6†). This Commission asked the views of the Assistant Secretary General in charge of Legal Affairs for the United Nations. His views were that according to the spirit of the Charter only United Nations members should vote in United Nations conferences and organs, except in the most exceptional circumstances. The one exception to date is Switzerland on the International Children's Emergency Fund Executive Board.
B. The danger of contrary precedents
A contrary decision, particularly allowing voting rights to countries not fully sovereign but which are autonomous in the field covered the terms of reference of the particular conference or organization concerned, could have very wide and serious implications. The Soviet Union has already for some time been campaigning for voting rights for all 16 constituent Republics in the International Telecommunications Union. In the Freedom of the Press Conference it could be reasonably argued that all sorts of territories (including even our provinces) are autonomous in the functional field concerned.
C. Tactical considerations
Unless the Council adopts the general principle that only United Nations members may vote at the Havana Trade Conference, there will certainly be a long, invidious, and for Canada very embarrassing debate. The United States instructions, in the event that the overriding principle is rejected, are to express willingness to concede voting rights to such countries as Switzerland but to oppose voting rights both for such countries as Albania and Bulgaria, and for territories not fully sovereign such as Burma. Several other countries, including France, would oppose voting rights for the Burma category, while conceding it to all fully sovereign States, and in our view the majority decision would be a resolution specifically refusing voting rights to Burma, etc. But probably conceding such rights to the Switzerland-Albania category. The Indian delegation would insist on voting rights for Indonesia, but would almost certainly be voted down.
D. Well in the background, but not irrelevant, is the whole question of relations between the specialized agencies and the United Nations. While we do not desire to see this issue arise sharply at the present stage of international relations, Mr. Martin in principle is strongly of the view that there is significance in the Charter's phrase "specialized agencies of the United Nations." In due course the Economic and Social Council will have to embark on some real co-ordination of activities of specialized agencies. Meanwhile, we should avoid where possible precedents tending to blur the United Nation's character of these agencies. Naturally there is no question that all members of specialized agencies, including countries not members of the United Nations, have voting rights within the specialized agency once it is established.
7. We do not underestimate the weight of the argument put forward by Stephen Holmes for the United Kingdom that Switzerland, Eire, Burma, etc., will refuse to attend the Trade Conference if they are not granted voting rights. This may well be correct. We are not certain, however, that it is inevitably so. Several countries did in fact join the World Health Organization though they were invited specifically without votes to the Conference which drew up the W.H.O. Constitution. Similarly, important countries such as Sweden have joined United Nations itself though they were excluded from a voice in drafting the Charter. The United States particularly doubts that Eire and Switzerland will refuse to join I.T.O. whatever we do about voting at Havana. In our view the general principle of limiting voting rights to United Nations members would in any case be less likely to impel refusal to attend Havana than would a separate resolution specifically denying voting rights to certain named countries.
8. For these reasons, (most of which were of course not stated) Canada yesterday afternoon introduced a resolution in Committee of the Whole that "voting rights at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment be exercised only by members of the United Nations." This was supported by the United States and several other delegations and was adopted by 8 votes for and 4 votes (United Kingdom, India, Venezuela and Lebanon) against.
9. This morning the American delegation received a telegram from Claire Wilcox, head of the United States delegation at Geneva Trade Conference, strongly urging that all countries invited to the Havana Trade Conference be given full voting rights. This telegram stated that the Canadian delegation in Geneva was sending a similar telegram to the Canadian delegation at the Economic and Social Council. This latter telegram has not yet been received.
10. Mr. Martin nevertheless feels that in view of all the considerations set out above, Canada should stand by the principle that only United Nations members should vote. The United States delegation here has consulted Washington after receiving the telegram from Wilcox in Geneva, and have received instructions to stand pat on the general principle of voting rights for United Nations members only.
11. Unless we hear from you to the contrary, we shall not reverse our stand but shall adopt in plenary session the same line which we adopted in Committee of the Whole - that is voting rights to be exercised only by members of the United Nations.
12. Mr. Martin has read and approved the text of this message.
70Voir les documents 654-655, 657, 665./See Documents 654-5, 657, 665.