We have had under consideration the revision of the policy paper prepared on October 16, 1951 on the role of the United Nations in the maintenance of collective security, with particular reference to that section of it entitled "Tentative Conclusions from the Korean Experience". I understand that you would wish to have immediately our observations on the Korean experience in collective security and I now set down our preliminary comments which it is hoped to follow up with a more detailed paper at a later date.
2. In our paper of October 16, 1951, we set down conclusions which might be shortly summarized as follows:
(1) The Korean experience has demonstrated the great importance of the moral as distinct from the strictly strategic aspects of collective security. It would appear that collective security has been strengthened by the action of the United Nations and the determination to resist aggression has been fortified.
(2) In Korea the United Nations sponsored international military action to resist aggression for the first time, thereby creating an important precedent, in particular as there had been a tendency to assume that as the Charter had not been fully implemented this could not be done.
(3) Notwithstanding the recognition of the limitations of the United Nations as a military organization, the United Nations would appear to be cast for a major rather than a minor role in the maintenance of international security. If it should retreat to a minor role, it could hardly maintain sufficient prestige to exist at all.
(4) If a reasonably satisfactory settlement can be achieved in Korea, the result should be a considerable increase in the prestige of the United Nations.
(5) The major function of the United Nations is the promotion of peace rather than the waging of war. The Korean operation seems to demonstrate that the United Nations is not a suitable instrument for the operational direction of warfare, although it provides a framework for co-ordinating the efforts of countries participating in the fighting and otherwise assisting. The United Nations provides machinery for negotiations and it has been possible to limit the war and to exploit opportunities for negotiations.
(6) United Nations responsibility for maintaining collective security carries with it the danger of becoming involved in resisting aggression in cases in which strategic circumstances make such a course inadvisable. The majority of nations can support a course which only some nations have any real intention of assisting substantially.
(7) United Nations can bring together all countries opposed to aggression and can exercise a restraining influence on countries which may be inclined to take rash steps.
3. On reviewing these conclusions we would not alter them substantially. It is considered, however, that we would now place more emphasis on the degree to which the United Nations' intervention in Korea has become "an American show". Under the cover of "collective security" the military operations in Korea and the negotiations for an armistice have followed a policy dictated by the United States Government.
4. The Security Council resolution of July 7, 1950 recommended to all member states that they make military forces and other assistance available "to a Unified Command under the United States". This resolution went on to ask the United States Government "to designate the Commander of such forces". General Douglas MacArthur was accordingly designated by President Truman (to be succeeded, in turn, by General Matthew B. Ridgway and General Mark Clark). This resolution also noted the Security Council's resolution of June 27, 1950 which recommended to all members of the United Nations that they "furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area". The resolution of July 7, 1950 requests the United States to provide the Security Council with reports as appropriate on the course of action taken under the Unified Command. If these two resolutions are read together, two conclusions emerge:
(a) The Unified Command is the United States Government;
(b) The members of the United Nations are asked to furnish sufficient assistance, under the United States Government, "to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area" of Korea.
The United States Government is thus given a virtual blank cheque by the United Nations to conduct whatever operations may be suitable to repel aggression and restore peace in Korea.
5. Canada was not a member of the Security Council at the time that these resolutions were adopted. However, a statement by the Secretary of State for External Affairs, on June 28, 1950, included the following: "As honourable members know, Canada is not now a member of the Security Council and therefore no decision on our part was required yesterday in regard to this resolution (the Security Council resolution of June 27); but I am sure that the House will support, as indeed does the Government, the action taken by the Security Council, because it represents collective action through the United Nations for peace". Pursuant to the Security Council's resolution of July 7, 1950, a letter was handed to the Secretary-General on July 12, 1950, by the Acting Permanent Delegate of Canada to the United Nations (Mr. John W. Holmes). This letter referred to a statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on June 30 in which Mr. St. Laurent declared that: "If we are informed that a Canadian contribution to aid United Nations operations under a United Nations Commander would be important to achieve the ends of peace, which is, of course, our only purpose, then the Government wishes Parliament to know that it would immediately consider making such a contribution". Mr. Holmes' letter went on to state that three Canadian destroyers would be made available to the Unified Command. Subsequently, a letter of July 21, 1950, from Mr. Holmes to the Secretary-General, transmitted the decision of the Canadian Government to make available "a long-range air transport squadron, including ground crews of the Royal Canadian Air Force, to be included in the Pacific air lift". Finally, on August 14, 1950, a letter from the Permanent Representative of Canada (the late R.G. Riddell) to the Secretary -General informed the latter that the Canadian Government had authorized the recruitment of an additional army brigade to "be available for service in Korea as part of the United Nations forces".
6. In making available units of our naval, air and military forces to the Unified Command, in the manner described above, the Canadian Government has inferentially accepted the Security Council's resolution of July 7, 1950, and we have explicitly accepted the Council's resolution of June 27, 1950.
7. It should also be noted that the United States Government, during the past two and three-quarters years, has very literally interpreted these resolutions which gave it a virtual blank cheque in Korea. For example, the United States Government did not consult its Allies when it recessed the Armistice negotiations at Panmunjom in October, 1952 (although we were informed in advance that this might be done). Canada was not directly consulted when the full Armistice negotiations were recently resumed (although, again, we were informed in advance). Canada was neither consulted nor informed in advance when the United States authorized the bombing of Communist power installations on the Yalu River in June, 1952, at a time when delicate negotiations were under way to break the prisoner-of-war deadlock. Canada was not consulted (nor were we informed in advance) when President Truman issued his order to the Seventh Fleet, on June 27, 1950, "neutralizing" Formosa; nor was Canada consulted (although we were informed in advance) when President Eisenhower rescinded part of this order, and "deneutralized" Formosa in February of this year. Most important of all, neither Canada nor the other Allies of the United States were consulted, or informed in advance, when the United Nations Command interjected the principle of "voluntary repatriation" into the prisoners-of war question in January 1952, a principle which was rapidly developed by the United States into an inflexible position.
8. These incidents illustrate the determination of the United States Government to interpret literally the Security Council resolutions of 1950 referred to above. It is also quite evident that the Canadian Government has not been able to play a prominent role either in the direction of the Korean War or in the conduct of the Armistice negotiations. There are several good reasons for this. In the first place, Canada has no representation in Korea and our information on political and economic developments there is, almost exclusively, of a second-hand nature. For this reason, we have been in no position to dispute questions of fact with the Americans, from whom we have obtained nearly all our information. Secondly, our Government fully recognizes both the difficulties and the responsibilities of the United States in carrying out the Security Council's resolutions of 1950, and there is a natural reluctance on the part of our Government to question the decisions of the country which has provided ninety per cent of the non-Korean armed forces in this operation. Thirdly, our ties with the United States are so close that, in any case, we would be reluctant to protest to them regarding the conduct of the Korean War unless a principle of the first magnitude was involved. The result has been that Canada has had very little influence on the development of the campaign in Korea, despite the fact that a Brigade of Canadian soldiers; has been in action there during most of the war. However, although we have rarely been consulted in advance of important decisions by the Unified Command (as shown in paragraph 9 above), we have not hesitated to transmit to Washington our general views on outstanding issues on Korea e.g. on the prisoner-of-war question. The expression of these views may have had some influence in counteracting the tendency of the Unified Command to adopt extreme positions, although this is quite debatable. There is no doubt, however, that our most important role in the Korean conflict has been played through the United Nations Assembly where we have been instrumental, together with other delegations, in persuading the Americans to accept proposals which they have not favoured originally < e.g. the Indian Resolution adopted last December by the General Assembly.
9. The operation being carried out in Korea by the Unified Command can be identified as United Nations operations in various ways. The Unified Command was established pursuant to a recommendation of the Security Council addressed to members who had provided military forces in response to the earlier appeal of the Security Council for aid to South Korea. The Unified Command was authorized by the Security Council to use the United Nations flag. The commander appointed by the United States Government announced the establishment of a "United Nations Command". A United Nations service medal has been provided for personnel participating in the action in Korea, and the forces of the Unified Command are referred to as United Nations forces. Certain countries, in advising the Security Council of their response to the appeal to aid South Korea, stated that they placed forces "at the disposal of the United States authorities to operate on behalf of the Security Council in support of South Korea". Nevertheless, it is arguable whether the Unified Command is constitutionally an agent, (or at any rate a directly responsible agent), of the Security Council or of the United Nations. In presenting to the Security Council on July 7, 1950 the resolution establishing the Unified Command, Sir Gladwyn Jebb stated:
"... Had the Charter come fully into force and had the agreement provided for in Article 43 of the Charter been concluded, we should, of course, have proceeded differently, and the action to be taken by the Security Council to repel the armed attack would no doubt have been founded on Article 42. As it is, however, the Council can naturally act only under Article 39, which enables the Security Council to recommend what measures should be taken to restore international peace and security. The necessary recommendations were duly made in the resolutions of 25 and 27 June, but in the nature of things they could only be recommendations to individual Members of the United Nations. It could not therefore be the United Nations or the Security Council which themselves appointed a United Nations commander. All the Security Council can do is to recommend that one of its members should designate the commander of the forces which individual members have now made available. . . ."
10. Different procedures from those envisaged under the Charter or put into effect in Korea are contemplated for future United Nations action in the report of the Collective Measures Committee to the sixth session in 1951. This report referred to the arrangements contemplated under Chapter VII of the Charter whereby the organization of United Nations armed forces is to be undertaken by the Security Council with the advice and assistance of the Military Staff Committee, which is to assume responsibility for their strategic direction. The report pointed out that until such time as these arrangements can be used, the United Nations, whenever it determines upon the use of collective forces, must provide some agency to be responsible for the direction and conduct of its military operations. The report recommends that this executive military authority should have a special relationship with the participating states and the victim state and with the Secretary-General, and establish close consultative arrangements. The report states that "the Security Council or the General Assembly when it resolves to employ measures involving the collective use of armed force will formulate the objectives and general policy of the United Nations". It states that within the theatre of operations the executive military authority should have full responsibility for the co-ordination and strategic direction and control of United Nations forces within the framework of the policies and objectives as expressed through such resolutions as the United Nations may adopt at any stage of the collective action.
11. There is nothing in the resolutions which have been passed by the Security Council to, indicate that the United States has been given or accepted responsibilities for consultation along the lines mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Neither constitutionally nor in actual practice could the Unified Command be expected to consult the United Nations or other governments and to be subject to instruction on the strategic direction of the fighting war in Korea. Derivative from its responsibilities of fighting the war, the Unified Command can be thought theoretically entitled to determine and must be given practically the power of determining the military factors in respect of the conduct of the war and the military aspects of a cease-fire or armistice. Neither the United Nations as such nor the states participating in the fighting in Korea can complain of the assumption of responsibility by the Unified Command in these purely military matters. In borderline cases where military questions can become political in the course of fighting as where military considerations might require the extension of the operations against a new aggressor, it would, however, appear that if the Unified Command should decide to take action on its own responsibility, it must be acting on its own behalf, and participating states and the United Nations could repudiate such action. It logically follows, therefore, that in such instances prior consultation with participating states is required, and if the operation is to be truly a United Nations operation, a United Nations body should have approved or be asked to approve such action. The borderline between the political and the military aspects of a matter is perhaps even more likely to raise difficulties in the discussion of a cease-fire or armistice. It would appear to be clear that in its armistice conversations with the enemy the Unified Command has exceeded the reasonable bounds of what might be defined as military factors in the discussion of the principles and policies underlying the exchange of prisoners of war. In such a matter it may be difficult to draw a borderline. Military commanders have in some past wars dealt with such matters, but profound political issues were not then tied up with the question of exchange of war prisoners. It would appear, therefore, that on this aspect of the matter participating states have not been consulted by the Unified Command to the extent justified.
12. The General Assembly has adopted a resolution suggesting a solution on the question of prisoners of war. There is, however, no machinery for ensuring that the Unified Command will implement General Assembly recommendations.
13. When the General Assembly concerns itself with questions of international peace and security, it can, of course, do no more than make recommendations. The Security Council may also under Article 39 recommend measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. In addition, Article 39 and Article 42 envisage the taking of direct measures by the Security Council with forces placed at its disposal by agreements made under Article 43. Neither organ, however, has the right to impose (as opposed to recommend) the terms of a political settlement by measures going beyond those required to restore international peace and security. If, however, in the course of a United Nations operation to restore peace, carried out pursuant to recommendations either of the General Assembly or of the Security Council, an aggressor should state a particular condition under which he would desist from fighting, then the decision as to whether this condition is reasonable and whether it would be wrong for United Nations forces to reject this condition and continue fighting, must be considered political, and the General Assembly (or perhaps more appropriately, the Security Council) could rightly claim a voice in this decision. It is clearly important that a decision on a political point on which a cease-fire depends should be subject to United Nations control in a United Nations operation.
14. There is a clear necessity for greater co-ordination of the political direction of the Korean war as opposed to merely strategic direction. The difficulties of providing this political direction by the United Nations are obvious. Under the Charter the Security Council would be the appropriate body, but in fact this would not work. The General Assembly has laid down broad principles on the objectives of the United Nations regarding a political settlement in Korea. It has not, of course, and should not attempt to lay down instructions for the conduct of military operations. If the United Nations is to be rightly regarded. as enforcing collective security in fact and the argument that the Korean operation is not truly a United Nations operation is to be met, then in certain circumstances it may be necessary for the General Assembly to make further recommendations of broad policy within the framework of which the collective action is to proceed. On the other hand, individual nations which have committed their forces to a course of action for political reasons cannot be expected to be bound by detailed instructions from a large body of other nations. The political question of prisoners of war has been raised in the Assembly and it can be expected that the Assembly may wish to lay down further principles regarding the nature of a final settlement, and it is right that it should do so. (Apart from the question of principle, there is perhaps some advantage in periodic General Assembly consideration of Korean developments, as it can be argued with some force that the latent extremism of the United States Government has been more successfully countered when the General Assembly has been in session than at other times.)
15. As pointed out in the preceding paragraph, there are arguments for and against greater political co-ordination of the war by the General Assembly. There are also difficulties in respect of greater political co-ordination, by action outside the Assembly, by the states contributing forces. The need for greater political co-ordination by such states would appear, however, to be evident, and more particularly so in default of effective action by the General Assembly. No country can be expected to commit its forces to political ventures not clearly defined, when it places them under foreign command.
16. It would appear to be the case that the consultations which have taken place between the states contributing forces to the Korean operation have not been adequate. It is true that it is difficult to draw a line between consultation and the supply of information of intention in advance. It is also true that there are weekly meetings in Washington of the Ambassadors of countries with forces in Korea. However, for a long time these meetings have been merely "briefing sessions" at which the Ambassadors listen to reports by United States generals and by the officials of the State Department. If any of the countries concerned has any particular point to raise regarding the conduct of the war or armistice negotiations, they do so on a bilateral basis through direct approaches to the Americans rather than at these "briefing sessions".
17. It emerges from the foregoing that a lesson to be drawn from the Korean experience is the need to establish more formal arrangements for consultation between participating states undertaking collective action, in the event of further aggression.