August 22, 1945
British Speeches of the Day.
On April 17th last I opened the Debate in this House on the subject of the forthcoming Conference at San Francisco, and on the proposals generally called the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, which were formulated as a basis for discussion by the sponsoring Powers. In that Debate, while there was criticism of certain provisions of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals and, particularly, of the agreement come to at the Crimea Conference at Yalta with regard to the veto, there was general agreement in favor of the formation of an international organization. That Debate took place shortly before we proceeded to San Francisco, and the House will remember that the delegation from Great Britain was led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), and that Members of the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and of both branches of the Liberal Party were included. This was in accord with the procedure adopted by many of the States represented at San Francisco, in particular by the United States and by the Dominions.
It was felt that in this new attempt for the setting up of an organization for the prevention of war-a matter of such vital importance to all-it was desirable to lift the whole matter outside the range of party controversy, and try to mobilize behind it all shades of political opinion. It is, therefore, with confidence that I submit to this House the Charter which has been approved by representatives of fifty nations, represented by men and women of various political views. This Charter was discussed in Conference, every paragraph was subjected to close examination and amendment in the technical committees on which all those nations were represented.
I would, at this point, like to pay tribute to my colleagues of the British delegation. My right hon. Friend opposite, who was then the Foreign Secretary, took a very leading part in the earlier, and, I think, perhaps the most difficult, stages of the Conference, which I think owed a great deal to his wise leadership. Of my other colleagues in this House, Mr. Mabane, Mr. Dingle Foot and Miss Horsbrugh have fallen by the wayside in the recent General Election but they, with those who are still with us, played their full part in committee work, as did, also, Lord Cranborne and Lord Halifax. I would specially mention the work of those two Noble Lords, because of the very heavy burden which fell upon them. The impending General Election caused the withdrawal, gradually, of the House of Commons representatives. They had to carry on, and right well they did so. Everyone of my colleagues served on one or more of the twelve main committees, everyone took charge of a special subject, everyone made his or her contribution to the final Charter which emerged.
I would like, here, to say a word about the admirable work done by the very strong team of officials which accompanied us. I am sure the House would like to join with me in expressing our deep regret that some of these were lost in an aeroplane accident on returning to this country. I would specially refer to Sir William Malkin, a jurist of very great authority, who had done particularly distinguished work. I would also like to acknowledge the great service to the Conference which was rendered by Mr. Stettinius, who presided with so much understanding and tact over all our deliberations.
This Charter was voted and discussed in accordance with the best traditions of democracy, and it was ultimately signed by the representatives of all the fifty nations. Since then it has been ratified by the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, by France, and by New Zealand. I now come to the House to ask for ratification here.
I do not think I should serve the House usefully this afternoon by discussing the Charter paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, or line by line, nor do I think it would be particularly desirable that I should show in detail how the Charter emerged from these lengthy discussions, and how the original Dumbarton Oaks proposals were amended. I would rather call attention to some of the outstanding points. It was realized in the Debate last April that there was bound to be much discussion on the allocation of power between the greater and the smaller States. Well, we in this House know very well the difficulty of seeing that constituencies are approximately equal in electoral strength, and this House has often heard long and eloquent speeches on the well-worn theme of "One vote, one value." Therefore, Members will understand the difficulty of combining in one organization a number of States differing so widely in extent, population and power as those comprised in the fifty nations that were represented at San Francisco.
Undoubtedly the most critical debates and discussions turned on this very point, as to whether we could preserve the rights of small nations while seeing to it that the great Powers were given a position commensurate with their importance and with the responsibilities they had to assume. In particular, there were questions as to what was called the veto, which, it was suggested, gave the great Powers the right to be judges in their own cause. As I explained to the House in April, the exceptional position accorded to the great Powers was due to the special obligations which they undertook. I think there was considerable agreement that this particular matter could not be settled by the simple method of putting all States completely on a level, oblivious of their population, extent and power. The doubts that were raised in this House were very fully expressed at San Francisco, and, indeed, they were hotly debated, but in the end, although there were modifications, to which I shall refer later, the small States ultimately accepted the broad lines of the great Powers' proposals. And that, I think, was due to the fact that they appreciated that the basis of the Charter corresponded to the realities of the situation that exists in the world today.
I would like here to emphasize again a point I have made, perhaps rather too frequently, in discussions on this and kindred subjects. The success of the new organization will not depend so much on the exact provisions as on the spirit in which they are worked. If a great Power resolves not to carry out the principles laid down in the Charter no paper provisions will restrain it. Failure of the great Powers to agree and act together would inevitably mean the ruin of the organization, and I am sure that as the debates proceeded at San Francisco the truth of this was realized by the delegates, and I suggest to this House that the realization of this truth is borne out by the writing into the Charter of the Preamble and the widening of the principles and purposes. That Preamble we owe largely to Field Marshal Smuts. His authoritative contributions to the discussions at San Francisco were the result of that union of lofty ideals and practical wisdom that we have come to expect of him. I remember there was a complaint that the Dumbarton Oaks proposals formed a rather frigid document. I pointed out at the time that it was the work of officials who were not expected to be eloquent, but I think it will be agreed that that defect had been cured at San Francisco. Field Marshal Smuts brought before the Conference a draft which he had prepared in collaboration with the Foreign Office, and that Preamble was very carefully considered and amended. But although amendments were made the substance and spirit of the Preamble are derived from the Field Marshal's draft. It is worth while, I think, that I should remind the House of the Preamble, and thus have it on record in this House:
"We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined-
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends-
to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and
to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims."
It is worth noting that this declaration does not start by saying "We, the Governments." It starts by saying "We, the peoples." This, I think, is right, because it expresses the fact that this Charter is an endeavor to put into practical form the deep feelings of all the peoples, including the fighting men who have made it possible to have a Charter at all. Here, then, in this Preamble we have an expression of the desires of the peoples. I am aware that that Preamble is not binding, but it is an expression of intentions. Its purposes and principles are an integral part of the Charter, and in Article 24 the Security Council is charged with acting in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. That addition, I may say, was made at the instance of the United Kingdom Delegation. If you made a comparison between Chapter I of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals-and there has been issued a very useful document setting out in parallel what were the proposals of Dumbarton Oaks and what was done at San Francisco-you will see that there is a great advance in the statement of principles. For instance, where the original proposal only said that international disputes were to be adjusted or settled by peaceful means, in the Charter these are to be settled in conformity with the principles of justice and international law. Again, friendly relations among nations are to be based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, while a new purpose altogether is introduced, that of promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
Here we have a very notable extension from the consideration of the rights of nations to the rights of human beings within the nation. I am aware that there was provision under the League of Nations for the protection of minorities, but I do not think the League of Nations had anything quite as explicit as this, in that we are seeking not merely good relations between nation and nation but good relations between the human beings within the nations. It is true that the exact way in which this is to be secured is not specifically laid down, and I must admit there is a limitation as to the intervention of the United Nations in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, but can anyone deny that the kind of treatment that was meted out by Hitler and the Nazis to the Jews is a matter that far transcends a question of mere domestic jurisdiction? I am certain that if there should arise, which God forbid, anything like this persecution in other lands that the new organization will take note of it and I believe take action. I have stressed the Preamble and the purposes and principles laid down in the Charter because it is precisely the acceptance of them which gives value to the machinery set up. Without the genuine acceptance of these principles mere machinery is almost valueless. There must be the spirit which quickens.
The next point I would call attention to is with regard to the functions of the General Assembly. It was, I know, felt by many delegates, particularly the delegates of the smaller Powers, that in the original proposals, too much stress was laid on the Security Council and not enough on the Assembly. The functions of the General Assembly were expanded at San Francisco partly at the instance of the sponsoring Powers themselves and partly as the result of long debates in Committee. It is very easy to under-estimate the value of public opinion and of open discussions which lead public opinion. No Member of the House of Commons should make that mistake. The General Assembly has power to consider any matters affecting the peace of the world and to make recommendations about it, unless it is some subject which is just at that time in the charge of the Security Council. I am certain that the discussions in the Assembly, as the discussions in the Assembly of the League of Nations, can be of immense value in focusing public opinion on the great issues that arise between nations.
There was a good deal of discussion about the composition of the Security Council, but it was left almost in exactly the same position as in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals. By Article 23 an endeavor was made to give guidance in the selection of the non-permanent members. The House will recall that there are five permanent members and six members that change from time to time. That was in two directions; first by consideration being given to the contribution of the members to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the organization; and secondly, to equitable geographical distribution. In view of the heavy responsibilities which are placed on the Security Council I think it will be agreed that there would be a great advantage that the States represented thereon besides the great Powers should include always some of those States which have shown not only their willingness but also their capacity to make a contribution to world security. Among those States one may mention the Dominions, which in two wars have shown tremendous willingness to come forward in the cause of peace. But it is equally obvious that if peace is indivisible-and we should recognize now that wars which begin at one end of the world may spread all over the world-there should be representatives who are concerned in all the various parts of the world in which danger may be thought to arise.
The final provisions of the Charter on these points owe much to the contribution made by the Canadian Delegation. In the discussion of the powers of the Security Council the British Delegation took a foremost part in seeking to make the Security Council something more than a policeman who is called in only when there is already a danger of a breach of the peace. We sought, and sought successfully, to make it a place where the policies of the States, and especially the greater States, could be discussed and reconsidered for the time, especially when they showed signs of such divergencies as to threaten the harmony of international relations. Collective security is not merely a promise to act when an emergency occurs, but it is active co-operation to prevent emergencies occurring. In the past the League of Nations too often came into action at too late a stage, and I hope now, that that error has been corrected. What, I think, is required is a continuous discussion of international affairs, not spasmodic action at times of crisis.
There are other points, on which I do not propose to speak at length, such as the setting up of a Military Staff Committee, and the provision that agreements by which States promise to keep special contingents of Armed Forces at the disposal of the Security Council should be made with the Security Council itself and not merely between the various States. On the other side encouragement was given to regional organizations to provide means for settling minor disputes between members and thus taking off part of the burden that rests on the Security Council.
I have dwelt at some length on the machinery for dealing with disputes and the prevention of war, but while much of the time was taken up with that, the Conference was very conscious of the need for dealing with the economic and social causes of war, through international co-operation. I think there was a general feeling that peace is not negative, but positive. I think a comparison of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals with those of the Charter will show hon. Members the extent of the expansion and elaboration of the original scheme which took place during the discussions. In this, I think, our delegates may clearly claim to have played a leading part with our friends from the Commonwealth and also from India. Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, who many of us know, was the very able Chairman of the Committee which was responsible for this detailed work. In the first place, the Economic and Social Council which had originally appeared only as a subsidiary part of the Organization was made a principal organ of the United Nations. I may say, incidentally, that the principle that men and women were to be equally eligible to participate in the work of any part of the Organization-a matter which this House may think perfectly clear to all of us-was made explicit. I think this is important, especially in respect of the work of the Economic and Social Council. Let me recall to the House the purposes of the Economic and Social Council. It is charged with promoting higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development, as well as solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems, international cultural and educational co-operation and a universal respect for the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without any discussion as to race, sex, language or religion. It will be seen, too, under Article 56, that all members pledged themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operating with the Organization for the achievement of those purposes. That is to say, the raising of standards is not a matter that must wait until there has been international agreement; it means that all can go forward, everyone in their own country and thus in co-operation try to get uniformity and a moving forward together. This, I may say, was inserted on the initiative of the Australian Delegation.
I know many members of this House are interested in the I.L.O. and the British Delegation fully demonstrated its belief in the I.L.O. as an instrument for raising standards and bettering conditions for the workers throughout the world. While it was eventually decided not to single out any one agency for mention in the Charter, a general provision was made for bringing those specialized agencies, of which there are of course a number, into relationship with the New Organization. There was widespread recognition that such bodies as the I.L.O. and the Food and Agricultural Organization should come in under this provision.
So far, I have been dealing with extensions and expansions of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals. There are two entirely new parts of the Charter which I would bring to the notice of hon. Members-the Statute of the International Court of Justice and the chapters concerning dependent territories. The Statute of the International Court of Justice follows, as was natural, very much the lines of the permanent court of International Justice that we knew under the League of Nations. The provisions relating to it were worked out by a very experienced body of international lawyers, prominent among whom was Sir William Malkin to whose loss I have already referred.
I would like to say a special word with regard to Chapter XI which deals with Colonial problems. Here we have a declaration on Colonial policy. This declaration, as is most proper, arises from the initiative of the representatives of the greatest Colonial Power-the United Kingdom. I would like here to pay a very special tribute to the diplomatic skill and patience of the former Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, Lord Cranborne, and the present Minister of Works, the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson), who were jointly responsible for handling this subject at San Francisco. The doctrine of trusteeship as a guiding principle in Colonial policy is nothing new. It has been our guiding policy in this country for many years, but the Declaration in Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter is the first general international declaration of Colonial policy.
Let us look at it for a moment. The Colonial Powers who have signed this Charter recognize the principle that the interest of the inhabitants of non-self-governing territories are paramount and accept, as a sacred trust, the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories. They undertake to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses. They undertake also to develop self-government, that is, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples, and their various stages of advancement. Provision is made for the regular transmission to the Secretary-General of information relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in these territories. Here the Delegates of the Government of Australia made a very substantial contribution in the adoption of this Article.
Chapter XII deals with the International Trusteeship principle. Here, the United States and the United Kingdom took the lead in securing the adoption of this Chapter. Of course, its provisions are naturally based to some extent on the old mandatory system, but there are one or two differences to which I ought to call the attention of the House. The old systems of mandates laid down what was in effect a policy of neutralization, forbidding fortifications, forbidding bases, and limiting the training of native troops to local defense purposes. I think the new system recognizes the positive obligation that the inhabitants of the territories place under the system should make their full contribution to defense, and there are also provisions designating parts of any trust territory as a strategic area under the supervision of the Security Council.
There is another important provision-I think still more important-relating to what was commonly known as "the open door." Under the Mandate System there was an absolute requirement to guarantee equal treatment to all members of the League of Nations and their nationals in economic and social matters. In practice, this often operated to the disadvantage of the inhabitants of the territory. We see that in regard to some of our mandated territory in Africa, and I think one can say that the motives underlying these provisions, which incidentally were not reciprocal, were quite as much to protect the rival interest of the sovereign Powers as to promote the interests of the mandated territories themselves. This has now been modified. While there is still an obligation to ensure equal terms, this obligation is made definitely subordinate to the basic objectives of the Trusteeship System and these include the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants. No one would suggest that the State entrusted with the administration of these territories should apply discrimination in its own favor; but if it is to be a good trustee it must be free to apply measures of discrimination where necessary in the interests of the people whose welfare is entrusted to it.
There is one point I should like to make before I leave this part of my speech. The purpose of Chapter XII is to create a system of international machinery. It does not itself place any territories under International Trusteeship or take any decision as to the future of such territories, nor by passing this Motion will the House be entering into any commitment. I may add that the conference owed a great debt to Mr. Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand who presided over the Committee responsible for the drafting of these Chapters on Colonial policy and Trusteeship.
I have endeavored to draw the attention of the House to the salient features of this Charter. Further points will be brought out in discussion, no doubt, by my right hon. Friend opposite who took such a leading part in our discussions, and by other Members, by the Minister of Education, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who will be speaking later in the Debate. But I would like to express my profound conviction of the supreme importance of this subject which we are discussing. It is easy, of course, to suggest amendments, but I believe the House will recognize that it is a great achievement that the delegates of fifty nations, while a great war was still raging, should have been able to come to agreement on a matter of such vital importance. Discussions and debates of this kind do mean a good deal of "sweet reasonableness" and willingness to accept majority views.
After long discussion and debate, the Charter was finally approved by al] the delegates. I say that this is a great Charter which I am asking the House to ratify. It is a great instrument ready to be used in the interests of world peace and world prosperity. It is a step forward in international organization. I do not claim for a moment that it is a final step. The Charter itself can be amended as a result of experience. We may, I hope we will, go much further towards international co-operation, but its existence is itself a sign that the nations of the world realize that without co-operation for peace there can be no security for any nation.
When I spoke in the House in April before leaving for San Francisco, I recalled to the House how we in these islands were familiar, as we had never been before in our history, with the horrors of war. I pointed out that grievous as were the wounds that had been inflicted on Europe, we should be very foolish if we imagined that the science of destruction had yet done its worst. I said that we had in the flying bomb, and the long-range rocket only a foretaste of what was in store for mankind, unless world affairs could be managed more wisely than in the past. I said that we must realize that, unless we could get away from world anarchy, we and our children would know life only under an abiding menace of sudden devastating attack, launched from far away, without warning and perhaps without, for a long time at all events, any real possibility of defense. All I said then has been only too terribly reinforced. The coming of the atomic bomb has, in fact, brought into actuality what I described to the House then as only a possibility. I am certain that all of us, in this House, realize that we are now faced with a naked choice between world co-operation and world destruction, and it is, therefore, with the consciousness of six years of war behind us, and all the possibilities that hang over us in the future, that I commend this Charter to the House and confidently ask approval of its ratification.