Volume #26 - 3.|
NATIONS UNIES ET AUTRES ORGANISATIONS INTERNATIONALES
QUESTIONS PRÉSENTÉES À LA QUATORZIÈME SESSION DE L'ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE À NEW YORK, 15 SEPTEMBRE AU 13 DÉCEMBRE 1959
ÉLECTIONS AU CONSEIL DE SÉCURITÉ
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 18 juin 1959|
SOUTH AFRICA AND THE SECURITY COUNCIL|
The Union of South Africa has been causing its "old" Commonwealth colleagues some disquiet over the past few months by its declared intention of seeking the "Commonwealth seat" on the United Nations Security Council at the forthcoming Assembly session, in succession to Canada whose term expires this year.
2. South Africa is, as you know, extremely unpopular in the United Nations because of its racial policies and because of its refusal to take cognizance of views adopted by the United Nations on those policies and on its disputed position in South West Africa. It was the view of the "old" Commonwealth members that South Africa could not hope to win election to the Security Council, that its candidature would be opposed by the "new" Commonwealth members and that one of them might well stand for election in open opposition to the Union, and finally that this split in Commonwealth ranks would not only be damaging to the Commonwealth itself, but might even lead to the loss, in perpetuity, of the Commonwealth's non-permanent seat on the Council. (Commonwealth entitlement to the seat is based on a "gentlemen's agreement" reached in San Francisco, which has already been breached in some respects and has been under increasing pressure from countries which believe their areas to be under-represented.) In addition to these factors, Canada feared that South Africa, by its candidature, was courting a rebuff which could only reinforce anti-United Nations and anti-Commonwealth sentiment in the Union. This point has twice been made to the South Africans, the first time by the Prime Minister.17
3. Until mid-April, however, the South Africans did not discuss their candidature with us. They did, on several occasions, discuss it with the United Kingdom, although the United Kingdom, which enjoys a permanent seat on the Security Council, is less involved in the issue than the other Commonwealth members. On each of these occasions, the United Kingdom representatives did their best to dissuade the South Africans from running. These urgings had no apparent effect whatever, and in due course the South Africans extended their campaign for support to ourselves, the Australians and New Zealanders.
4. By the second week of May, the following position had been reached. Australia was prepared to support South Africa if all the other Commonwealth members did likewise, and was willing to have South Africa cite this conditional support to the others if it wished. New Zealand was prepared to support South Africa if it were the generally agreed candidate. Canada accepted South Africa's claim to the seat on rotational grounds (all but the newest members have had the seat once, and Australia and Canada have had it twice) and was prepared to state its position to the other Commonwealth members if South Africa wished, but fully reserved its position on the question of support until the views of all the others were known. The United Kingdom's position was the same as New Zealand's, but it was still urging South Africa to withdraw its candidature or at least to postpone it to 1961. One argument put to the South Africans by Lord Home was that after three "old" Commonwealth members (New Zealand, Australia and Canada) it was now really the turn of an Asian member.
5. At this point (mid-May) the first real indication of possible South African withdrawal came with an informal enquiry by Mr. Louw to a United Kingdom representative as to whether, if South Africa postponed its Security Council candidature until 1961, it could count on United Kingdom support at that time and support for an Assembly vice-presidency this year. The United Kingdom was unable to meet either proviso, apart from indicating a willingness to "explore" both possibilities, but nevertheless urged the South Africans, with renewed vigour, to take this way out.
6. Although the matter was acquiring increasing urgency - slates of candidates for various United Nations offices were beginning to take shape in New York - no South African reply was forthcoming for several weeks. Meanwhile, it was learned that the "new" Commonwealth members had got wind of the South African candidature, and were as strongly opposed to it as we had expected, and that the Ghanaians were toying with the idea of running in opposition.
7. The affair was suddenly brought to a head on June 5 when the South African press ran a Reuters despatch from New York (apparently based on corridor gossip) revealing South Africa's candidature and the possibility of an opposing Ghanaian candidate, and commenting on the embarrassment which such a contest would cause to the rest of the Commonwealth. (To be defeated by Ghana, not only a very new Commonwealth member but also a "black" African one, would of course be the ultimate humiliation for South Africa.) The United Kingdom was preparing to urge once more that a decision be reached at once when the South Africans forestalled this latest hastener by announcing their decision to us and to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
8. Mr. Kirsten, the South African High Commissioner, called at the Department on June 11 and said that his Government, after considering the response of the "old" Commonwealth members, and particularly representations to the effect that the Asian members felt the next turn in the Security Council seat belonged by right to a candidate of theirs, and that the South African candidature might cause dissension in the Commonwealth, had decided to withdraw. At the same time, the Union considered its claim to the seat to be unimpeachable, and therefore requested Canadian support for 1961, and, in the meantime, support for an Assembly vice-presidency this year. Mr. Kirsten was told that the Canadian Government would undoubtedly be grateful to the Union for its statesmanlike gesture in withdrawing, and that the two requests would be given immediate consideration.
9. Mr. Kirsten then presented the attached Aide Mémoire? which is quite different from his oral presentation. Instead of announcing withdrawal and making two requests, it states that South Africa is considering withdrawal but makes two provisos. Furthermore it is couched in language which would sound like very hard bargaining if the reader were not aware that the United Kingdom had in fact been urging upon the Union these two alternative courses to Security Council candidature. The Aide Mémoire, rather than the oral presentation, also closely approximates the accounts we have received, from Cape Town and Earsncliffe, of the announcements made to our High Commissioner and to the United Kingdom High Commissioner there.
10. Nevertheless, Mr. Kirsten left the impression in the Department that his oral presentation had been in accordance with his instructions, and that the Aide Mémoire represented face-saving rather than any serious thought of withdrawing the withdrawal. The time factor, indeed, would make it very difficult for the Union to decide once more to be a candidate - and it could expect to receive little support if it did.
11. Three problems remain. The first is that an alternative Asian candidate must be found (and the South Africans have made it clear that they expect an Asian and not Ghana). Our impression, from what we have learned to date, is that no Asian Commonwealth member is anxious to run, and that it will prove difficult, although probably not impossible, to draft a candidate.
12. The vice-presidency presents one difficulty. Supporting South Africa for a vice-presidency would, of course, mean that no other "old" Commonwealth country, Canada included, could seek a General Committee (vice-presidency or committee chairmanship) position this year. As you know, consideration was being given to putting forward Dr. Vivian as a candidate for Chairman of the Second Committee. There are advantages in having a Canadian fill this role and sit on the General Committee, but we might, of course, risk offending our Commonwealth colleagues if we stood in the way of this aspect of a solution for the South African dilemma.18
13. Support of the Union's candidature in 1961 is more difficult. Canada has refused to commit its vote on such matters even a year in advance, and there is no reason to believe - unless some agreement can be reached among all the Commonwealth members in the meantime - that a South African candidature would present any fewer difficulties two years from now. I should nevertheless be inclined to recommend that, in these special circumstances, we go as far as possible in committing our support. (There is always a possibility that South Africa itself would decide, when the time came, not to rock the boat a second time.)
14. I therefore recommend that we inform South Africa (if you agree) of our support for a vice-presidency this year. So far as the 1961 candidature is concerned, I recommend that South Africa be reminded that we conceded the Union's claim to the seat this year, on rotational grounds, and could only have this view strengthened by the passage of time; while it would be impossible to anticipate all contingencies which might arise in two years, Canada would, subject to unforeseen developments, expect to be in a position itself to vote for South Africa, and to give the Union its support in seeking the concurrence of the other Commonwealth members in its candidature for the Security Council in 1961.
15. If you agree19 with the foregoing, you may wish to initial the attached memorandum? for the Prime Minister, which covers the same ground as the latter part of this memorandum. Mr. Diefenbaker has followed this subject closely, and is unfamiliar only with the developments of the past few days.
17Le 15 avril, au cours de sa visite de présentation au premier ministre, le nouveau haut commissaire d'Afrique du Sud a abordé la question de la candidature de l'Afrique du Sud. Voir le compte rendu de la rencontre dans MAE 5475-CX-1-40.
18Note marginale :/Marginal note:
19Note marginale :/Marginal note: