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. I believe that a firm declaration to this effect by the United States, not by way of threat but by a simple statement of intention, would suffice to bring home to all concerned that we are serious about observance of the Charter provisions about the rights of members which, like the franchise in our democracy, goes to the very basis of the UN's existence. But if such action by the United States does not appear likely to ensure Charter compliance, we should also make it clear that we are prepared to take the further step of freezing our pro-rata contribution to Assembly expenses if Israel is illegally denied its seat in the Assembly.
Under ordinary circumstances, I am not a great advocate of swinging a big stick; but the United Nations will not survive if its basic law is violated by a majority in a matter of transcendent importance, such as the rights of members.
There is another thing we have a right to demand. We have a right to insist that the Secretary General forthrightly declare against this and other egregious violations of the Charter. The Secretary General is the principal executive officer of the United Nations. He is its leader and in a very real sense is the custodian of the Charter. A timely declaration by the Secretary General on occasion may offend the majority or the minority, depending upon the circumstances, but a Secretary General should attempt to please the majority, or us, or anyone else where the integrity of the Charter is at issue.
It is far more likely that the United Nations will sustain irreparable harm from excessive caution on the part of the Secretary General than from courage in insisting on compliance by all member states with the fundamental law of the organization.
I conclude by reiterating my thesis. American foreign policy towards the UN should lower its sights about unrealistic objectives and raise them about essential demands. Both the United Nations and the United States will be better served by such a policy.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Justice.
Now Ambassador Yost. Ambassador Yost has been connected with the U.N. a long, long time and we are delighted to have you here today.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES W. YOST, FORMER U.S. PERMANENT
REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATIONS Mr. Yost. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a brief oral statement to make. I don't have a written statement but I would very much appreciate it if there might be placed in the record copies of two magazine articles which I recently wrote dealing with the present and future of the U.N., one in the Saturday Review and one in the New Republic.
The CHAIRMAN. We have those articles and without objection they will be printed in the record. [The information referred to follows:]
[From the New Republic, Dec. 28, 1974]
(By Charles W. Yost*) In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in December the U.S. representative John Scali spoke bitterly of the "tyranny of the majority,” noted that “every majority must recognize that its authority does not extend beyond the point where the minority becomes so outraged that it is no longer willing to maintain the covenant which binds them," and concluded that in consequence of recent majority behavior in the Assembly, American support of the United Nations is eroding-in our Congress and among our people.”
Somewhat similar speeches were made on the same day by representatives of France, Britain, West Germany, Italy, Sweden and Belgium.
Charles W. Yost, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Morocco, served as chief U.S. representative to the United Nations, 1967-1971.
What occasioned this concerted outburst of indignation by the developed countries? Their frustrations have been building up for some time but were confirmed this year by actions of the majority on these subjects : international economic relations, South Africa and the Palestinians.
As to the first, the assembly adopted by a vote of 120 to 6 a "Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States” proposed by the President of Mexico. Among the handful of negative votes were those of the U.S., West Germany and Britain, and among the few abstainers Japan, France and Cauada. In other words this is a charter that asserts the rights of the less developed countries and the duties of the developed but does not, in the view of the latter, adequately protect their rights or the interests of their private investors. As Ambassador Scali said: “the minority which is so often offended may in fact be a practical majority, in terms of its capacity to support this organization and implement its decisions."
On the second subject, a proposal to expel South Africa from the United Nations under procedures laid down in the UN charter was vetoed in the Security Council by the U.S., France and Britain. The Assembly majority thereupon proceeded to deny the South African delegate his seat in the current Assembly on very dubious procedural grounds.
Finally, and this action was the most provocative, the Assembly majority voted that, for the first time in the history of the organization, a spokesman not representing a member government might participate in an Assembly debate. This spokesman, moreover, Yasir Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was accorded the honors not merely of a delegate but of a chief of state. To add insult to injury the Israeli repesentative, who wished to rebut seriatim his numerous adversaries in the debate, was prevented from doing so by a ruling of the Algerian Assembly president, which when challenged was upheld by the majority.
Coincidentally, the same majority in UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is supposedly nonpolitical, cut off support for regional programs in Israel on the grounds that Israel, in definiance of UN injunctions, is altering the physical and cultural character of Jerusalem.
These were the actions that the Western ambassadors so rigorously attacked and that provoked such angry reactions among press and public in several countries. For example, Switzerland reduced its contribution to UNESCO by 10 percent, and on December 10, 71 U.S. Senators joined in declaring the PLO a “direct threat” to the foreign policy of the United States.
Were these strong reactions justified ? To some extent they certainly were. But in fairness to the Third World majority their intemperate actions, rather than being matched by equally intemperate Western responses, should be examined dispassionately and with some perspective. In order to do so one needs to cast a glance at recent history.
First, as Ambassador Scali reminded his audience, the UN Assembly is not a legislative body. It cannot enact laws. Except in regard to internal procedural and budgetary matters, its resolutions are not binding on member states. What they are is a public expression of the opinions of a majority of member governments, in many though not in all cases representing a large majority of mankind. As Dag Hammarskjold used to say the Assembly is "a reflection of the world as it is” not as we might like it to be. In that sense it is worth listening to, if we wish not to deceive ourselves about the state of the real world. Adlai Stevenson once remarked in this connection that what the United States needs most is a hearing aid.
Second, we should not forget that from 1945 to 1960 the overwhelming majority in the United Nations consisted of Western Europeans and Latin Americans. Those were the days when the Soviet Union and the few nonaligned member states repeatedly protested “the tyranny of the majority." But we had then no qualms about passing resolutions over their strong objections. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and we are crying foul.
The history of the three issues that have provoked the present excitement also needs to be kept in mind.
Ever since the less developed countries became the majority they have been passing resolutions calling on the rich to assist much more substantially in their development, to improve the terms of trade that have until recently been heavily in their disfavor, and to police multinational corporations, which they believe have in many cases exploited them. The fact that there has been only a very modest response to these repeated appeals accounts in substantial part for the recent quadrupling of oil prices by OPEC, for the wave of nationalizations of foreign properties, particularly in Latin America, and for the one-sided resolutions on these subjects adopted by the UN Assembly.
As to South Africa, it should be recalled that the Assembly and the Security Council have for many years been passing resolutions, which the U.S. has almost always supported and only two or three states have opposed, calling on South Africa to abandon its policy of apartheid or racial segregation.
· Yet practically nothing has happened. Apartheid remains aş firmly entrenched as ever. Efforts to impose sanctions on South Africa or to expel it legally are blocked by vetoes in the Security Council. The procedural device adopted to deprive South Africa's delegate of his seat in the present Assembly was, therefore, while legally improper and politically unwise, a symbolic expression of long pentup frustration on an issue that deeply affronts the human dignity of all the ponwhite members of the United Nations.
The questions reyolying around the Palestine Liberation Organization likewise raise issues carrying an enormous emotional charge; there is no doubt that, just as much of the world community experienced a deep sense of guilt for having failed to prevent the holocaust of the Jews, so have many, particularly in the Third World, felt a growing sense of guilt for having allowed two generations of Palestine refugees to pass their lives in economic squalor and a political vacuum. A very large majority of UN members now clearly feels that, just as Israel is entitled to self-determination, independence and secure sovereignty, so too are the Palestinians,
· Had this problem been squarely faced and decisively dealt with some years ago, it might have been resolved within the framework of the Jordanian state. Having been neglected too long, the initiative passed, as has been the case in many other emerging nations, into the hands of ultra-nationalists and revolutionaries willing to use terror to achieve "liberation." Outrageous as terrorism is, we must not forget that it has been used in similar struggles by French revolutionaries, Russians, Yugoslavs, Israelis, Algerians and many others, and is even now a daily practice among both Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. This does not excuse it but helps explain why it is tolerated, To the great majority of UN members, Arafat is the fighting leader of an oppressed people, and it was in that capacity that he was recognized and honored.
Even the many who do not consider these explanations and parallels sufficient excuse for "irresponsible" behavior by the General Assembly would do well to recall the not insignificant accomplishments of the United Nations, not those of the distant past but those of 1974,
Valuable UN peacekeeping capabilities have again been demonstrated in the Middle East by the establishment of multinational forces in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights, forces that now play an important part in maintaining the fragile peace in the area and that, if there is to be a political settlement, will no doubt be an indispensible element in it. Moreover the Soviet Union has in this case for the first time joined in creating and paying for such a force and is co-chairing the UN-sponsored Geneva Conference. Through the UN, it is thus deeply and usefully involved in the peacemaking process. A similar UN force in Cyprus was helpful in preventing last summer's conflict from doing even more harm than it did and remains a partial barrier to further hostilities.
Even the General Assembly, so bitterly reproached for one-sidedness, has during the past month upheld the US position by narrow margins on two critical Asian issues : the representation of Cambodia and the maintenance of a UN command in Korea.
Of far more long-range significance were three UN conferences held this year on matters of profoundest import: the law of the sea conference in Caracas, the population conference in Bucharest and the food conference in Rome. It is true that none of these did more than begin to resolve these problems by defining their magnitude, by proposing, and debating means of dealing with them, and by exposing clearly the disastrous consequences of failing to cope. But had the United Nations and its family of economic agencies not existed, it is doubtful that even this beginning would have been made.
It is indeed in this economic area of urgent international concern that the future indispensibility of the United Nations most probably lies, even more than in its traditional peacekeeping role. It is becoming ever clearer that the survival of organized and civilized human society into the 21st century depends on controlling population growth, assuring adequate and accessible supplies of food, fuel and fertilizer, developing and modernizing the underdeveloped twothirds of mankind, rationalizing and stabilizing our trade and financial systems, protecting our threatened environment.
All of these are problems that affect all nations and their solution will, in this age of accelerating interdependence, require the active cooperation of most of them. The focus of such cooperation can best be international organizations in which almost all nations are present. To quote Hammarskjold again, if the UN did not exist we would have to invent it. It will be simpler to preserve and improve it than to reinvent it. But it cannot be improved without patience, restraint, mutual accommodation and shared leadership on the part of all concerned.
These qualities will be required both from the numerical majority of Third World countries and what Ambassador Seali called the "practical majority” of those countries on whose economic, political or military power usually depends whether UN resolutions are mere empty gestures or lead to consequential action.
Rather than trying to reserve decision-making on these critical issues for a “rich man's club” of affluent states, the “practical majority" must, if it wishes the decisions to be carried out, submit them at an early stage to a forum of all concerned. To the same end the "numerical majority" must forego the symbolic "triumphs" that so provoke and alienate their powerful partners, must be less compliant to the small coterie of radical activists within their group, and must engage systematically in a far more persistent search for consensus among the two “majorities.”
Finally, however, let it be clearly remembered what the General Assembly is and what it is not. It is a sounding board, a spectacular global opinion poll, a "face the world" talk show. It is not a parliament to pass laws or coerce its members. When decisions need to be taken by the United Nations they will be taken, in regard to the maintenance of peace, by the Security Council, where the US and four others have a veto, and in regard to the critical issues of economic interdependence, in the specialized agencies and conferences, few of whose decisions can in fact be implemented without the support of those possessing, in each case, the relevant economic resources.
My concluding piece of advice to both "majorities" would be that of Talleyrand to diplomats: Surtout, pas trop de zèle”-above all, not too much passion. The United Nations belongs to everyone, that is, everyone willing to live in peace with his neighbors.
(From the Saturday Review, January 1975)
The outstanding fact about the United Nations today is that it is not being sufficiently used. It is our greatest underemployed international resource,
Our world is each year being drawn closer together by the reach of modern weapons, the nature of modern communications, the needs of expanding populations for food and fertilizer, and the demands of expanding consumption for energy and raw materials.
Even the strongest and richest nations, like the United States, are dependent on other nations for security and for maintenance of living standards. The poorest nations are dependent on others for bare survival.
Much of this interdependence, many of these requirements for greater security and assured supplies, could be satisfied through the United Nations if the capacities of its organs and agencies were adequately used. They never have been. In fact, during the past ten years they have been less used by the United States than ever before,
The United Nations was conceived in 1945 by Franklin Roosevelt and Cordell Hull because they believed that American isolationism after World War I had proyed contrary to US national interests. Our isolationism contributed to bringing on a second world war which we otherwise might have been able to prevent. Roosevelt and Hull did not want to repeat that mistake after World War II. They looked on a strong international organization as the best means of involving the US durably and constructively in world affairs,
Moreover, they knew that, while sovereign nations would long remain the main actors on the international scene, the old balance of power system had failed to prevent two world wars and could not be counted on to prevent a third and a fourth. In a world exposed to nuclear weapons this prospect was wholly unacceptable.
. : IIT ...
The United Nations system Roosevelt and Hull established was also designed "to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural and humanitarian character.”.
This design was fleshed out in succeeding years by the creation of a vast network of associated agencies in these fields: for example, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the International Labor: Office, the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Development Program, the UN Environmental Program and the UN Population Program.
In so doing the founding fathers perhaps built better than they knew. Whether or not they foresaw that the world would thirty years later be caught up in a population crisis, a food crisis, an energy crisis, a monetary crisis, a raw materials crisis, they provided the instruments through which these crises could be dealt with internationally. The trouble is, as we have said, that these instruments are being only half used, and less used by the United States than by most other nations.
That has not always been the case. During the first two decades of the UN, the United States provided much of the necessary inspiration, leadership and resources. Most of the agencies listed above were set up at our initiative. Even now we continue to have more influence in the UN than any other single nation.
However, during the past fifteen years UN membership has grown much more numerous and diverse. There are now 138 members of which over 90 are so-called non-aligned countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The US therefore is no longer able to obtain UN approval of action which does not have wide support among the non-aligned. Sometimes resolutions are pushed through the Assembly which we strongly disapprove. However, it is important in this connection to emphasize two points.
First, the United Nations is not a world government. Far from it. It is an association of sovereign states with significant but strictly limited powers. Its General Assembly acts by majority vote but, except in budgetary and administrative matters, can only recommend. Its Security Council can decide on action to counter threats to peace, but in the Council the US and four other permanent members have a veto. The UN cannot therefore dictate to the US-nor to any. one else.
Second, the United Nations reflects the world as it is. Whether or not this is a sensible arrangement, there are more than 130 independent nations. We cannot ignore them or get along without them. A war in the Middle East, for example, threatens peace between the US and the Soviet Union and leads to an embargo on our vital oil supplies.
Examples could be multiplied. We must in the interests of our own security deal with everyone else and we can usually do that best through an organization where most everyone else is represented.
Our Government in recent years has not seemed to understand this simple fact. It has talked a great deal about a structure of peace" but has néglected the structure which is already there, the one we ourselves created.
What our Government has been talking about for the most part is the old balance of power. It has tried to pour the new wine of a global society into the old bottles that served Metternich and Bismarck in Victorian times. It has based its so-called "structure of peace" on fleeting personal relationships rather than on established and durable international institutions. That strategy simply will not work in the 1970's.
The members of the United Nations, when they signed and ratified its Charter, conferred upon its Security Council “primary responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security." Yet it has been the habit of most states, particularly the great powers, to seek security unilaterally or by military alliances, and to turn to the Security Council only at the last moment when war had already broken out or was imminent. Under those circumstances it is no wonder the Council sometimes “fails."