Volume #18 - 224.|
SIXIÈME SESSION DE L'ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE, DEUXIÈME PARTIE, 2 JANVIER-5 FÉVRIER 1952
Le chef de la délégation à l'Assemblée générale des Nations unies,|
au secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 8 février 1952|
GENERAL ASSESSMENT OF THE SIXTH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS ASSEMBLY|
Reference: Our telegrams Nos. 125 of December 3 and 252 of December
21, 1951 and your telegram No. 206 of January 9, 1952.?
Addressed External No. 533, repeated Dominion London No. 130.
1. The Sixth Session of the Assembly came to an end on February 5th with few regrets. As you said in your recent message of congratulations to the delegation (which was much appreciated), it has been a difficult and frustrating session, though probably no more so than in recent years.
2. In this final review I propose to concentrate on the work of the session since the new year. Some of the general observations we will try to make, however, will necessarily overlap with some of our earlier comments. We are, of course, very conscious that we have been completely immersed in the Assembly, to the exclusion of almost everything else, and yet are attempting judgments before the dust has had time to settle.
3. A few days ago Dr. Jessup told the American Club in Paris that if Mr. Vyshinsky had reported to the Polit-Bureau [sic] honestly on his return to Moscow the previous week, he would have had to say that the Soviet bloc had failed to make any impression on the free world during this session of the Assembly, and that virtually none of the Assembly's accomplishments had had the benefit of Soviet cooperation.
4. Katz-Suchy,30 the firebrand of the Polish delegation, has, through his long United Nations experience, built up a number of Western contacts to whom he talks remarkably freely. Usually he is completely cynical about "lines" on both sides. Yet those to whom he has spoken recently are convinced that he believes the Soviet bloc has done very well at this Assembly. He points out that the fishing in troubled waters has been unusually good - notably in the Middle East and North Africa. Never before, he says, has there been such a marked tendency among the Arabs, Asians and Latins to abstain on East-West issues. On secret votes where arms cannot so easily be twisted, the Assembly has, he maintains, shown its real sentiments by nearly electing Byelo-Russia against the candidature of Greece, very strongly supported by the United States. Although the Soviet resolution in favour of a "package deal" admitting all outstanding applicants for membership did not obtain the two-thirds majority the resolution passed in committee in spite of all the violent language Mr. Gross could hurl against it. Most satisfactory of all, from his point of view, was the way in which Mr. Vyshinsky was able, as he claims, to "outmanoeuvre the Americans" and force the United States delegation to adopt publicly a stand against discussing Korea in the United Nations. While United States forces are fighting there under the United Nations label, the United States will not even discuss Korea under the United Nations roof, he concludes.
5. From the point of view of any Canadian delegation no assessment of the work of the Assembly can be built up on what either side may think that it has achieved or not achieved. Dr. Jessup's verdict on the lack of success of the Soviet bloc is, I think, true as far as it goes but I am sure he would be the first to admit in private that the United States delegation (and the Western delegations generally) have few positive achievements to their credit. They fathered or ghosted a large majority of the resolutions which were passed. They had their way in the end on almost every issue of any importance. But the establishment of the Disarmament Commission was their one major accomplishment, and its long-range importance cannot yet be judged. No one can say, however, that through this Assembly East-West tension has abated, or that much has been done towards bridging the gaps between the North Atlantic countries on the one hand, and the Arabs, Asians and Latins on the other. Although we can say that the tension between East and West is no worse (and that is something these days), the other gaps are probably wider - and certainly with the Arabs and to a lesser extent with the Asians and Latins.
6. Although we are hampered by lack of experience of previous Assemblies in making comparisons, I think it is true that never before have the main lines of debate on items in the political committees been left so largely to the Great Powers. Among the smaller delegations, and also in the Secretariat, there was an increasing sense of frustration because the Assembly was not, in fact, deciding any big issues, many of which were not even before it, but had become to a greater degree than in any previous year, a place where the two Great Powers found it convenient to do their arguing.
7. As an example of the attitude of some of the smaller Powers, I cite India. In marked contrast to the role they played at the last Assembly, the Indian delegation was one of the most passive this year on nearly all political subjects, resting comfortably behind the formula that if the United States and the Soviet Union were not agreed on an issue they would abstain as nothing but propaganda and increasing tension could result. There was nothing comparable during this Assembly to the initiative taken last year, during the Korean negotiations, by Mr. Entezam (Iran),31 Sir Benegal Rau (India)32 and yourself.
8. Another symptom of the same feeling was the difficulty, especially in the political committees, of finding speakers until after the United States and Soviet delegations had declared their positions.
9. There were other reasons for the relative passivity of delegations of smaller countries in the political committees. It was apparent to everybody that nothing substantial would be accomplished in the field of disarmament until the Great Powers were ready to agree and their disagreement was evident even before the subject was referred to the First Committee. Marginal agreements, in the Big-Four sub-committee, and the flurry of hopes following Mr. Vyshinsky's concessions, modified slightly this underlying pessimism but did not change it.
10. In contrast to disarmament, the subject which had dominated the previous Assembly - Collective Measures and Uniting for Peace - was not a two-Power subject. Progress could be and was made despite Soviet opposition. This year, as soon as it became apparent that the USSR were not going to take up the Western disarmament proposal seriously, the whole mood of the Assembly sagged.
11. The inactivity of the smaller countries applied chiefly to the two political committees. In other committees, for example Committee Two (Economic), Committee Three (Human Rights) and Committee Four (Trusteeship), smaller countries were very active.
12. The sense of letdown particularly affected the press, in view of the excessive build-up which had been given to the tripartite proposals in November. Some correspondents who came to the session with little or no previous experience of the United Nations re-acted even more strongly against "propaganda speeches" than those who had heard them all too often before. Some members of the press simply stopped coming to the session they were supposed to be covering, took the press handouts and enjoyed themselves in Paris while they wrote about the United Nations wasting time.
13. Another reason for the weakness of this Assembly was the lack of leadership. At times when a strong President of the Assembly could have given a lead which would have been followed by a number of smaller countries, Mr. Padilla Nervo33 did not raise a finger. His leadership has, I regret to say, been non-existent, and even in his function of conducting plenary meetings and coordinating the work of committees he had shown few of the qualities which should belong to a man in his high office.
13. [sic] I should add that it was not only the President and the smaller delegations who were to blame for the lack of leadership. On the Western side, Messrs. Acheson, Eden and Schuman, as was to be expected, only attended the Assembly for about two weeks. Of those who remained throughout the Assembly, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (United Kingdom) and Dr. Jessup (United States) alone were outstanding. Selwyn Lloyd seemed to gain in effectiveness with each intervention he made. His adroitness, moderation and sincerity, particularly when rebutting in the best parliamentary tradition Mr. Vyshinsky's outbursts, were admired by all. Dr. Jessup's integrity and his great gifts of exposition had much to do with the successful outcome of the Assembly's work on disarmament and Palestine. No other member of the United States delegation approached his stature.
14. The French made little attempt to supply leadership and indeed their delegation did not even meet as a delegation for the first month of the Assembly.
15. Mr. Vyshinsky, the only Foreign Minister who stayed for almost the whole Assembly, seldom showed his old brilliance in dialectical debating. Although during the second half of the Assembly he was as violent as ever, he seemed somehow less confident and was on the defensive for most of the Assembly. The Soviet delegation made almost no attempt to discuss its point of view with other delegations, except from to time with certain Arab and Asian delegations. Only on the elections to the Security Council did they encourage the Polish delegation, the strongest of the satellites, to do some direct lobbying for them.
16. Apart from disarmament, the other subjects dealt with in the political field by the Assembly since Christmas were for the most part ones in which agreement between East and West was not a pre-condition of their success. Nevertheless, they tended, almost by habit, to slip, into the same kind of propaganda debate. I am thinking here of the items dealing with collective measures, Palestine, Libya, repatriation of Greek children, and the admission of new members. Exceptions were the Soviet item on threats of a new world war (which led directly into the discussion of Korea and a further round on disarmament) and the old Chinese Nationalist charge that the USSR had violated the Sino-Soviet treaty of 1945. While no doubt these Chinese charges were substantially true, the abstentions of all Commonwealth and Western European members showed that many important members saw no useful purpose in pursuing them. Oddly enough, it was during the discussion of these Chinese Nationalist charges that the United States chose without consulting us in advance, to issue their "solemn warning" that any further aggression in South-East Asia would be vigorously resisted.
17. Before turning to other items, I might mention one which the Assembly decided not to discuss - Korea. At the final plenary meeting of the Assembly there was a demonstration of the common sense and solidarity of the free world which was heartening after so many divisions of opinion and interest which had made themselves apparent on other subjects dealt with during the Assembly. By their votes in favour of adjourning the session without discussing Korea, and calling a special session for the purpose once an armistice has been signed (or an emergency special session if circumstances warrant it), the Arabs, Asians and Latins showed that they still have confidence in the sincerity and good faith of the West in general and the United States in particular. They showed that they do believe the United States wants an armistice as much as anyone but fear that to shift negotiations now to Paris would only delay the negotiations which are proceeding, albeit slowly, in Panmunjom. They might perfectly well have abstained on this question but, with only 2 exceptions, Chile and Yemen, they voted with the West.
18. Despite the violence of the debate and the large number of weakening amendments accepted by the sponsors, the Collective Measures item was, I think, fairly successful. Apart from the Soviet Bloc, only three countries abstained on the final vote, giving the resolution as overwhelming support as had been given to the "uniting for peace" resolution last year. The significance of this is that the same majority was secured for a resolution that not only continues the work of the Collective Measures Committee but goes a good deal further than the "uniting for peace" resolution. It may not mean additional troops for Korea but it does, I think represent an appreciable enlargement in that the report of the Collective Measures Committee called the "area of collective will" to resist any aggression through the United Nations. No member is in any way committed to take any specific action in the event of aggression but there has at least been some psychological clearing of ground from which practical results may be expected to follow in a concrete case of aggression.
19. While the Political Committee was debating what measures should be taken against an aggressor, several countries were pressing, in the Legal Committee, for a definition of aggression. The International Law Commission had found it impossible to reach agreement, but this did not dissuade the Legal Committee from trying to do so, despite the cautious approach of most Western delegations, including ourselves. An unfortunate split, therefore, developed between NATO and Commonwealth delegations on the one hand and Arab and Latin delegations on the other. This situation gave the Soviet Bloc an opportunity to pose as the defenders of the political and territorial integrity of the smaller nations. Even an innocuous compromise proposed by France and Venezuela to reconsider the whole question at the next session proved partly unsuccessful, and the majority of the Legal Committee insisted that the Assembly should specify that a definition of aggression was "possible and desirable" with a view to ensuring international peace and security. Efforts in plenary to have these objectionable clauses deleted, on the grounds that it pre-judged the whole issue, failed.
20. The item to which the Canadian delegation was able to make its most fruitful contribution this session was also the least involved in the East-West struggle - Palestine, which as usual was discussed under two headings, a general peace settlement through the Palestine Conciliation Commission and the rehabilitation of Palestine refugees.
21. The Arab states and representatives of Arab refugees were glad to have a practical plan for rehabilitation of refugees proposed by the Relief and Works Agency and were willing to, support it if it was not interpreted as prejudicing the right of the refugees to ultimate repatriation. They insisted, however, that since the refugee question was an important issue in connection with the general peace settlement, they could co-operate in the fulfilment of the Blandford Refugee Plan only if the General Assembly adopted a resolution providing for continued United Nations conciliation efforts in line with resolutions on Palestine adopted in the past. Israel, on the contrary, felt that the time had come for free and direct bilateral negotiations between itself and its immediate neighbours on the basis of existing armistice agreements, with a minimum of United Nations participation. It therefore wanted the four-power resolution on the Conciliation Commission to make as little reference as possible to past resolutions of the General Assembly.
22. In committee the Arabs succeeded in pushing through a number of last minute amendments which gave them a victory over Israel. The margin of support for these last-minute amendments was so narrow, however, that it seemed likely the resolution would be defeated in the Assembly and that in consequence the possibility of liquidating the refugee problem on the basis of the Blandford Plan would be seriously prejudiced.
23. It seemed to us that Israel might be persuaded to accept some changes in the resolution going part of the way towards meeting the Arab point of view, and that the Arabs might in their turn agree to concessions to Israel.
24. The Canadian delegation proposed four amendments to the sponsoring powers, who undertook the necessary negotiations with the Arab representatives, while the Canadian delegation got in touch with the representative of Israel. In the new atmosphere thus created, an arrangement was reached which resulted in a resolution supported both by Israel and its immediate Arab neighbours and by the overwhelming majority of the Assembly. Only the Soviet Bloc voted against the resolution as amended, while Iraq abstained. The Canadian delegation feels that despite hard words exchanged between parties to the dispute during the debate in committee, it is possible that if a man of Jessup's stature could be released for a few months' work on the Palestine Conciliation Commission before the effects of the compromise resolution have worn off, some progress might be made toward a peace settlement.
25. If our experience with Palestine was happy, it was the only bright spot in an otherwise unrelieved gloom surrounding all matters middle eastern, including the most aggravated ones that were not even brought before the United Nations. Either because the parties to the dispute did not wish to do so (as in the case of Suez, Sudan and Abadan) or because of the very strenuous opposition of one of the interested parties (as in the case of French North Africa). Although Mr. Eban has constantly referred to Israel as "a centre of confidence" in the Middle East, the Israeli representatives were rarely more cooperative than their Arab neighbours. One must, however, agree with Mr. Eban's judgement that "Arab nationalism has not shown a will to fit its aspirations into a framework of international interests." This may continue to be the case so long as the Arabs feel that the Western powers, for purely strategic reasons, intend to perpetuate controls in the Middle East which have been relinquished elsewhere. The judgement of the Arab representatives has apparently been that their aspirations ought not to be fitted into the framework of existing international interests until the desire of Arabs to be rid of foreign intervention has received wider international recognition than is yet apparent.
26. More typical of Arab sentiments and in a way more worrying was the detached "plague-on-both-your-houses" attitude of Faris El Khoury of Syria.34 This applied not only merely to official Arab statements on the record but often made it difficult for personal contacts established in happier days to be resumed on anything more than a strictly business basis. Far from the gap between the Arabs and the West being bridged, I am afraid that the rift is widening, and the Arabs tell us that those who established Israel and are now intent upon maintaining strategic interests at the expense of the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of the area can expect no better.
27. It would have been of great assistance to the delegation as a whole in handling the important and extremely delicate Middle Eastern questions before this Assembly (and others which might have come before it) if we had had any independent sources of information on Middle Eastern affairs. As it was, we were almost entirely dependent on what we were told by United Nations agencies and by the United States, United Kingdom and French delegations, who of course had very full reports from their respective missions throughout the area.
28. The Arab-Asian grouping was more in evidence this year than in the past. I understand it began with informal meetings among Arab and Asian delegations on Indonesia following the Delhi conference of 1947. The group met frequently to discuss Korea during the last session and this year have met on all the important subjects before the Assembly. Interestingly enough, the Philippines have not been attending meetings this year and Thailand has been sending only an observer. Both states are regarded by the other Asians as being too much under Western influence. We do not know what has been going on at the meetings of this group but it has seldom voted as a bloc in the same way as the Latin American countries usually do. There have, for example, been several signs of Arab-Latin bargaining of votes, particularly during elections for United Nations office. The Asians have, so far as we can tell, not made deals, except for the election of Sir Benegal Rau to the International Court. Their normal preference seems to be to abstain, and the pattern has even spread this year to include Pakistan which abstained, for example, on the disarmament resolution, using the same formula as India, that without agreement among all the powers, no disarmament proposals were worth anything.
29. In our telegram No. 252 of December 21, 1951, I mentioned Sir Zafrullah Khan's speech paying "humble tribute" to the Soviet bloc for their support on Morocco and other issues affecting the self-determination of peoples. Zafrullah has tried to make amends since Christmas. He has profusely apologized to the Americans in private. But he has not played as great a role at this Assembly as his abilities would permit, perhaps because of the state of extreme tension throughout the Middle East and the fact that the sympathies of his people are so heavily engaged on the Arab side that any moderating lead he might try to give would be badly received among the Pakistanis and other Moslem peoples to whose leadership he certainly aspires.
30. For the under-developed countries, strongly and shrewdly led by Mr. Santa-Cruz of Chile,35 the high point in the Assembly was their victory in getting the approval of the Assembly for the establishment of a fund which would provide capital for under-developed countries. The item had been passed in committee before Christmas against the strenuous opposition of all the larger potential contributors, including the United States and Canada. It may therefore be a hollow victory. They have won their point of principle, but so long as the West must spend at its present rate for rearmament, the fund will mean nothing in practical terms. Nevertheless, the inability of the "have" countries to dissuade the "have not" countries from voting their project means that we are in for serious trouble in ECOSOC and at future sessions of the Assembly. In fact, aid for under-developed countries will in future stand high on the list not only of economic but of political problems of the Assembly. For essentially it is a political problem as much as an economic one. Realizing they could not stem the tide successfully, the United States delegation were much less active in opposing the resolution in plenary, where it was adopted by a slightly larger majority than in committee.
31. The obvious pre-occupation of the Assembly with political and economic problems has served, in some measure, to divert attention from underlying financial issues. In a sense this might be considered fortunate. In the past, if there have not been resounding successes on the political front, it has always been possible to single out one or more projects, such as the expanded programme for technical assistance, as examples of the kind of economic cooperation that have been nurtured and should be encouraged through the United Nations.
32. Although the record at this session is not entirely negative and there is hope that the expanded programme will attain its objective of $20 million for the next financial period, the continuing demands of re-armament and the other commitments imposed on the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada and other developed countries as a result of the continuing East-West conflict and the intensified surge of Arab nationalism, have caused them to protest, with good cause and in good faith, against the efforts of the smaller countries to use their voting strength in the Assembly to obtain increased amounts of economic and financial aid both through the United Nations budget and through extra budgetary programmes. These attitudes have been evident both in the debates in the Economic Committee and in the specific examination of financial issues in the Fifth (administrative and budgetary) Committee.
33. The conflicts that have arisen in this field have tended to exacerbate the feeling of divergency between the larger and smaller countries. In this field, as perhaps in no other, the opportunities for constructive action should be greatest. It would seem desirable for the Western world to decide objectively, dispassionately and in the light of its own broader economic aims and long-term interests how far and how fast it is prepared to go in the direction of meeting the legitimate and responsible economic demands of the smaller countries. If this could result in a considered and concerted policy which would allow us to indicate positively at the beginning of an assembly session the direction in which we would be prepared to go, it might encourage that coordination of aims which would enable us to counter or divert attention from untimely, wasteful and ill-considered schemes that might be advanced by some of the more unreasonable elements in the Assembly.
34. South Africa's behaviour in the United Nations has never been exemplary, but this year she has made it more difficult than ever for her friends to support her. After the Assembly had declined to take back the Fourth Committee's invitations to Michael Scott and the Hereros Chiefs, the South Africans took virtually no further part in the work of the Assembly. They attended committee meetings (with the exception of the Fourth Committee) but took hardly any direct part in proceedings and refused to vote on anything in plenary meetings, which they attended only as observers. The South African delegation, however, are hopeful that they will be able to turn over a new leaf at the next session. They plan to be strongly represented and to take steps in the meantime to go at least part of the way towards reaching a satisfactory compromise with the ad hoc committee on South West Africa and with the Indian and Pakistan Governments on the Group Areas Act.
35. We were disturbed and concerned to note a growing antagonism between states which have colonial responsibilities and those which have none. Conspicuous among this latter group are those which, having been colonies, have recently achieved independence. The anti-colonial nations are probably right in keeping attention focussed on the goal of freedom and independence for all peoples. Yet the colonial powers have a heavy responsibility to make sure that their colonies are ready for independence before it is granted to them. In this field Canada, with its close friendship for nearly all the colonial powers and its sympathy for nationalist aspirations, is often faced with difficult decisions. Though the Canadian delegation did not play an active part in these questions they did, generally speaking, side with the colonial powers.
36. It can hardly be denied that this has been as unproductive an Assembly as any in recent years. The Assembly did not do too badly with the items on its agenda, but for obvious reasons the big issues were not directly before it, or were brought before it only incidentally through other items under discussion. There may be a more profound reason for this than lack of leadership or the nature of the subjects which were discussed. It may be, as one member of the United States delegation has suggested to us, that we should not be dissatisfied with marking time this year - and perhaps next year - while the West is building up the strength from which, we maintain, we will one day negotiate with the Soviet Union.
37. There is, I think, something in this idea. It was suggested in Mr. Acheson's presentation of the Western disarmament proposals. But we should not, I believe, be too complacent about postponing year by year the consideration of the big questions and attempts to negotiate outstanding differences between East and West. After all, the Soviet Government no doubt think in terms of negotiating from strength too; and the day may not be so far off when they will begin to put out feelers for serious negotiations while they still have a preponderance of world power in being. The disarmament proposals, and the Soviet reaction to them in the form of alleged concessions concerning inspection and control, may, in the light of history, be judged to be no more significant than other duels in the cold war. But it is perhaps possible than they will be seen as something more significant as the first tentative steps towards that kind of co-operation on which the United Nations was founded, for which it exists, and without which it has less and less meaning.
38. On the basis of our experience at this Assembly we suggest that three important issues before this Assembly will probably be before the next. These are:
(a) East-West tension;
(b) The drive of under-developed countries for economic aid;
(c) Colonial problems.
39. The question of East-West tension is no doubt constantly under review and there is perhaps nothing which we can usefully say in addition to what has been said above on this question. As regards the other two problems, we might consider if Canada would make a greater contribution to their solution than we have done in the past,
40. We might ask ourselves what economic sacrifices we are willing to make in order to bridge gaps between the "haves" and the "have nots" and especially between the Arab-Asian group and the North Atlantic-Commonwealth group. From our efforts to keep in touch with the Arab, Asian and Latin delegations (especially those of Pakistan and India) during this Assembly it became apparent that the main interest of many of these in the United Nations is the amount of technical and economic aid they will receive. The more aid that is available the more likely they are to vote with us on political questions. The less aid that is available the more likely are they to abstain or vote against us on issues dividing the East and West.
41. On colonial questions we might consider if we could not play a more active role. We are not a colonial power and yet we have close friends in both camps. This might be a field in which we could use our influence to help arrest, if not reverse, the growing antagonism between colonial and non-colonial powers.