Volume #13 - 382.|
LES NATIONS UNIES
DEUXIÈME SESSION DE L'ASSEMBLIE GÉNÉRALE
Déclaration49 à la première Commission
de l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies|
le 23 octobre 1947|
One reason, though a comparatively unimportant one, why I have asked for permission to speak on the matter before us, arises out of a statement made by Mr. Gromyko in this Committee last Saturday. He asked why the Canadian delegate objected to having delegations to the United Nations carry on the struggle against war-mongers and war propagandists. He apparently asked that question because he misinterpreted, no doubt purely accidentally, certain remarks made earlier by our representative that day. Mr. Gromykd said that he "had developed the thought in these remarks that we should not accuse anybody of war-mongering and so forth and so on." Of course, as a reading of the Canadian statement would show, no such thought was developed, nor was it suggested that we should not discuss warmongering. What we said, in reference to the terms of reference of the proposed Interim Committee of the Assembly, and I quote from the text, was simply that "if the Interim Committee were to be used by certain delegations ... for the endless repetition of groundless assertions that certain individuals are war-mongers, then it might become a liability rather than an asset." That has nothing whatever to do with the suggestion that we should not discuss this resolution or any other resolution which concerns war-mongering. I hope that Mr. Gromyko will interpret my intervention in this discussion as an indication that we do not object to such a discussion.
I must indicate at once, however, that I am unable to support the Soviet resolution before us, quite conscious of the fact that any statement of this kind leaves one open at once to the accusation of being in favour of war-mongering and a friend of war-mongers. In order to protect oneself as best one can from such an accusation and to justify a refusal to vote for this resolution, it is essential to look at it carefully, paragraph by paragraph.
The resolution of the delegation of the Soviet Union regarding measures to be taken against propaganda for a new war contains various ideas, some of which are of a highly contentious character both in form and in substance. These ideas have been crowded into the small space of a single resolution. In this resolution we are being asked to do two things. First, to declare that a certain type of propaganda amounts to a violation of the obligations we have assumed under the Charter. Second, we are asked to agree that each Government here represented should undertake to make the carrying on of such propaganda a criminal offence by legal definition.
In paragraph 1 of its resolution, the Soviet delegation ask us to condemn "the criminal propaganda for a new war . .. containing open appeals for aggression against the peace-loving democratic countries." To this appeal, I am sure, there will not be a dissenting voice. But if the Soviet delegation are genuinely anxious to get a ringing, unanimous verdict against "war-mongering", why do they single out three countries for special and dishonourable mention? Are they seriously suggesting that there are no misguided individuals in other countries, including their own, who, influenced by fear or hate, have counseled or may counsel violent policies against another State?
Furthermore, this paragraph of the Soviet resolution defines and interprets incitement to war in a way which makes one suspect that its authors are more interested in its propaganda value against certain countries and certain views than they are in stopping "war-mongering". This suspicion is strengthened by the nature and tone of statements made at this Assembly by the Soviet and certain other delegations.
This endeavour to particularize, to name certain countries and specify certain "circles" was further developed by Mr. Vishinsky in his statement on September 18 when he nominated certain individuals to the category of "war-mongers". Mr. Vishinsky, it will be noted, was careful at the same time to dissociate the responsibility of Governments from such reprehensible activity.
A wealth of press comment, much of it of a shabby and unimpressive character, was offered to us to establish the culpability of certain individuals and to sketch the outline of the geometrical design which Mr. Vishinsky refers to as a reactionary "circle". But all that we were given was a judgment made by the Soviet delegation, as to what circles in what countries are to be termed reactionary, and what kind of propaganda is criminal. A cynic might feel that when certain people talk about a "reactionary circle" they mean any group which, putting the individual above the state, and freedom before despotism, rejects totalitarian tyranny in all its forms; that when they talk of "criminal propaganda" they mean any expression of opinion hostile to their own foreign policies.
But if we are to accept this subjective approach, is it not open to other delegations to draw circles of equal validity around individuals or groups in the Soviet Union or in any other country, and condemn their expressions of opinion as equally reprehensible, insofar as such opinions are hostile, aggressive and not calculated to develop "those friendly relations" which, the second paragraph of the Soviet resolution reminds us, we are all obliged by the Charter to develop in our international relationships under the Charter?
The Canadian delegation feels that all propaganda from any source which is designed to provoke international ill-feeling is to be deprecated and condemned without reservation. Such propaganda is, of course, especially to be condemned when it is sponsored and directed by governments. It defeats the purposes for which this organization was established. These purposes as stated in Article I not only bind us to develop friendly relations among nations, but to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character.
Any kind of propaganda, I repeat, which deliberately defeats the peaceful purposes and principles of the Charter should be condemned along with the particular kind singled out by the Soviet resolution.
There is, for instance, the spreading of false and malicious reports by one government, through press and radio, about the people and government of another country. This practice is even more dangerous to peace and international goodwill when the offending government prevents normal social and cultural relations with the people of the country it misrepresents; when it stops the full and free exchange of information; when it puts obstacles in the way of visits by foreigners to its own country and refuses permission for its own citizens to visit other countries.
We have had some experience of all this in Canada. We have, for instance, been disheartened and discouraged in our sincere wish for friendly relations with the courageous Soviet people, to learn that false and misleading statements have appeared in the U.S.S.R. press and radio about our country; statements designed to stir up ill-feeling toward and misunderstanding about our people, and which in that sense might be termed war mongering. The official organ of the Soviet Government has said that German prisoners of war and the Government of Canada (a country which, incidentally, helped to capture these prisoners) form a "kinship of Nazi souls". The Soviet people, who seem to have only one source of news about Canada, are told for instance that my country is using its supplies of wheat to profiteer at the expense of starving Europeans, although Soviet officials must know that Canada, when it has not been giving wheat away as relief, has been selling it abroad at one, two or three dollars a bushel below the price charged by certain other countries.They have also been told — though Soviet press representatives and officials in Canada know it is untrue — (we let people travel wherever they wish to go in Canada and find out about things) — that instead of a few hundred soldiers, there are great formations of U.S. troops on our soil; that we have sold ourselves out to the U.S.A. — "lackeys of Wall Street" is their favourite if unoriginal expression — and that we have allowed large foreign military and air bases to be established on our territory from which the U.S.S.R. is to be attacked. The whole picture is being distorted, to build up enmity toward my country in the mind of the Soviet people. That, Mr. Chairman, is war-mongering, though the authors of this resolution obviously did not have it in mind when they presented it to us.
There is another kind of war-mongering not covered by the Soviet resolution, Mr. Chairman; a most insidious and evil kind. It might be called "civil warmongering". This kind of war-mongering sometimes works in the open; more often it works in the dark. Its aim is to stir up domestic strife; to set class against class; to turn the people against their freely elected governments; to instil hatreds and fears; in short, to do everything that can be done to stir up unrest which will lead to revolution and civil war. The exploitation by a foreign power, acting directly or through domestic agents, of the hopes and aspirations, the political fears and economic anxieties of peoples of other countries, in the interest of its own selfish national purposes and of its own power politics is possibly the worst war-mongering of all.
We are certain that this Committee will unanimously wish to condemn it.
The second paragraph of the Soviet resolution invites us to agree to the principle that "toleration" of, and even more so, "support" of the type of propaganda which contains open appeals for aggression, should be regarded as a violation of the Charter.
The Canadian delegation certainly affirms that all Governments, signatories of the Charter, should observe and apply the purposes and principles of the organization to which they are bound.
There is a distinction, however, between "toleration" of and "support" for propaganda for aggressive war. No peace-loving government should or would support such propaganda. Toleration, which, of course, does not mean approval and can be coupled with the strongest condemnation, is a different matter; at least in free societies.
One of the essential principles of such societies is that expression of opinion, whether to the liking or not to the liking of the Government, should be tolerated, unless it contravenes the law which the people themselves make. In a free society, citizens are free to judge as to the various opinions expressed and to agree to disagree with such opinions. We do not intend to change that position, or to follow certain other states in reverting to the dark ages of reaction, when despots attempted to control the conscience and the mind of men. We admit, however, that there is a difference between democratic and totalitarian states in this matter. In the latter, a warlike declaration or a bellicose pronouncement can be made only with the authority of the government, which has total control of all the mechanisms of propaganda and where there is no freedom of opinion. Therefore, there can be no possibility of wild and irresponsible statements being countered and neutralized by statements of sober, peace-loving persons who represent the great majority in every state. In my own country, and in others, there have been made and no doubt will be made rash and provocative statements by men driven to such things, they may feel, by the aggressive policies and arrogant attitudes of other states. Such statements we all condemn just as we condemn aggressive and unfriendly policies which provoke them. Such statements, however, in free countries, are refuted by others as soon as they are made and the damage that they do would be small if they were not seized upon and used by other states for their own purposes, one of which is the artificial creation of fear of attack from abroad as a buttress to despotism at home.
We do not agree, then, that laws which guarantee civil liberties should be changed for purposes such as those visualized in the true meaning of the Soviet proposal.
In most democratic countries, however, there are laws of libel and laws preventing seditious utterances. Not long ago a statement was made in a Canadian city which, as an incitement to class hatred and strife, was considered by the Department of Justice of my government as rendering the speaker liable to prosecution. Here was a case where the author of a war-mongering statement could have been prosecuted under the law had it not been for the unfortunate fact that he was a member of a foreign Embassy in Ottawa and therefore escaped from legal prosecution. Fortunately, such cases are very rare.
In coming to paragraph 3 of the Soviet proposal we find the suggestion that Governments should be invited to prohibit "on pain of criminal penalties" the "carrying-on of war propaganda in any form."
This proposal apparently means that Governments should take it upon themselves to determine whether certain statements of their citizens, mainly statements of opinion, are to be deemed to be war propaganda and should sec to it that criminal penalties are imposed on those who make such statements.
I must say that the assumption or exercise of any such authority by the government would be out of the question in a country such as ours where liberty of the press and freedom of speech have been and continue to be regarded as fundamental freedoms. The cure is not to be found in suppression but in freedom to counter falsehood by truth. The people of Canada are quite able to judge as between opinions that may be expressed and form their own views as their conscience may direct. It seems a pity indeed that the Soviet delegation which has asked governments to undertake this serious responsibility, has not on its own record shown itself to feel under any obligation to exercise restraint on press and radio comment in its own country. This is all the more strange because as we understand it the press of the Soviet Union exercises its functions with a special sense of responsibility to the Government. And yet we hear every day hostile expressions of opinion which are not calculated, to say the least, to develop friendly relations among nations, nor to strengthen the desire for universal peace.
We now turn to the fourth paragraph of the Soviet resolution. The Canadian delegation notes in the first place that this paragraph contains an interpretation of the Assembly resolutions of January 24 and December 14, 1946, which does not accord with the text of these documents. These resolutions do not concern only the question of the exclusion from national armaments of the atomic and all other main types of armaments designed for mass destruction. Both resolutions explicitly refer to the establishment of a system of international control along with elimination of atomic weapons from national armaments.
I know that it has been the endeavour of the Soviet delegation to persuade us over many months that the control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use for peaceful purposes only, can be made the subject of a separate convention, which would follow an international agreement outlawing the use and manufacture of atomic weapons.
The majority of the Atomic Energy Commission, in spite of repetitious argument on this point, have not been persuaded and still maintain the view that effective international control of atomic energy is the real issue which must be solved, and that this cannot be achieved either by a mere diplomatic document saying that the manufacture and use of atomic weapons is being prohibited, nor by the later Soviet proposal that periodic inspection and check is sufficient.
The reports of the Commission, now two in number, both recognize that a convention prohibiting the manufacturing and use of atomic weapons should be included as a part, indeed as a necessary part, of a general international agreement establishing effective control of atomic energy. But so long as we face up to the essential fact that atomic energy can be used equally for industrial as well as military purposes, and that for this reason controls must be established over the distribution of materials, the operation of plants and facilities and over all the processes involved from the mining of the materials to the release of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, we cannot accept the over-simplification of the problem which once again is presented to us within the text of paragraph 4 of the Soviet resolution. The Canadian delegation, therefore, does not feel that any useful purpose would be served by reaffirming a garbled and inaccurate interpretation of this Assembly resolution.
As regards the reference in paragraph 4 to the implementation of the Assembly resolution of December 14 on the reduction of armaments, we would like to point out that the Canadian delegation was among those which, at the Second Session of the General Assembly, drew attention to the urgent necessity of securing an international agreement for the regulation and reduction of armaments. It was our contention then, and it still is, that the regulation and reduction of national armaments can only become a reality if collective security under the United Nations is built up. The problem of security and disarmament in our view is a single problem, which cannot be dealt with in parts, or separately in water-tight compartments. For instance, how are nations to judge as to the extent of the national armaments or forces which they should maintain until the military agreements are entered into under Article 43, whereby Members undertake to make armed forces, assistance and facilities available to the Security Council. We have waited, and so far in vain, for agreement in the Military Staff Committee to enable the essential preliminary planning to be done. We insist that the plans of the Military Staff Committee for the purpose of implementing Article 43 are an essential prerequisite to the regulation and reduction of national armaments. No useful purpose, in our view, can be served by trying to apportion blame for lack of progress in the Commission for Conventional Armaments, but it is evident to us that so long as fundamental differences of view persist on questions of important principle, and above all on the relation between the establishment of conditions of international security and disarmament, little progress can be expected. The Canadian delegation, however, as member of the Security Council will do its best to expedite the implementation of the resolutions of the Assembly to which reference is made in paragraph 4 of the Soviet resolution.
It will be clear, I hope, from what I have said, that we will not be able to support the Soviet resolution. I imagine other delegations will be in the same position. I venture to express the hope, however, that all delegations will wish to condemn war-mongering in all its forms, including civil war-mongering. I feel certain, also that all delegations would wish to support a declaration in a positive sense in favour of propaganda for peace; peace-mongering, if you like.
In the hope that we may all unite on these two aims, the Canadian delegation is submitting a short straightforward, non-controversial resolution as follows:
The United Nations condemn all propaganda inciting to aggressive war or civil strife which might lead to war, and urge
Members to promote, by all means of publicity and propaganda available to them, friendly relations among nations on the basis of the purposes and principles of the Charter.
49Voir ibid., pp. 208-214. See ibid., pp. 200-6.