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Held at Flushing Meadow, New York, on Tuesday, 29 April 1947, at 11 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. O. ARANHA (Brazil).
1. Schedule of meetings (document A/BUR/78)
The Secretary-General's suggestions are contained in document A/BUR/78, and he wishes to have your recommendations on these proposals, in order that the greatest satisfaction may be achieved in the conduct of our work.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): Does that mean that the ordinary Assembly Committees, if and when they meet during this session, will be expected to meet in the large Assembly Hall? I only ask this from the point of view of discussion of detailed matters and the disposal of our work, since it is not very suitable to have speakers go to the rostrum. I should think it would be easier to get through our work in an effective manner in a committee room, but I am not objecting to the suggestions of the Secretary-General.
The CHAIRMAN: I call on the Secretary-General to explain and complete his own suggestions.
Mr. LIE (Secretary-General): It was my idea that we should use the Assembly Hall. If any matter is referred to a committee, I think that with some simple arrangement, the Assembly Hall could also be used for committee meetings; but if a committee should want to meet at Lake Success, it can take a decision accordingly.
The CHAIRMAN: If there are no other objections, I shall consider the Secretary-General's suggestions approved.
In the absence of any objections the Secretary-General's suggestions were adopted.
2. Consideration of the provisional agenda for the first special session of the General Assembly (documents A/286, A/293)
The CHAIRMAN: We will now consider the provisional agenda. The General Committee serves as the agenda committee of the General Assembly.
Under rule 33 of the provisional rules of procedure 1/, this Committee has the responsibility of considering the provisional agenda together with the supplementary list, and of making a report thereon to the General Assembly.
You have before you document A/293, the provisional agenda of the first special session of the General Assembly, and document A/286, the letter which was presented by the United Kingdom to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
In a very real sense, the item presented by the United Kingdom, constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare a report on the question of Palestine for its consideration at the regular session of the Assembly, has already been approved because a majority of the Members responded favourably to the inquiry of the Secretary-General with regard to the summoning of a special session of the General Assembly to consider this item. I assume, therefore, that the General Committee will want to make a favourable recommendation to the plenary meeting of the Assembly for the approval of this item.
I would therefore recommend favourable consideration of this item. It is now open for discussion.
Mr. ASAF ALI (India): Before this item is taken up for consideration by the Committee, I should like to ask the representative of the United Kingdom to be kind enough to explain one or two points. It appears to me that these points should be elucidated before we can proceed to the consideration of this item.
The point to which I would like to invite attention is a press report of the debate that took place in the House of Lords about the question of Palestine. No one can vouchsafe for the accuracy of the report in the press, but I understand that an announcement was made by an authoritative representative of the Government of the United Kingdom that, whatever the recommendations of the United Nations might be, the United Kingdom was not prepared to say at this stage that it would accept these recommendations. Is that correct? If so, what is the use of considering this item on the agenda now?
The CHAIRMAN: I should like to explain to the representative of India, as it is my duty to do so, that we are not discussing the essence of the United Kingdom suggestion but only the inclusion of this question on the agenda. If it is included, we shall have the opportunity of asking questions and requesting explanations from the United Kingdom representative. But as a matter of order, I would ask the Indian representative to agree that we should only discuss whether or not this question is to be included on the agenda.
Does the representative of the United Kingdom wish to speak about the inclusion of this matter on the agenda or reply to the Indian representative?
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): I only want to say that I should be quite prepared to give a reply to the question which the Indian representative has put forward, but, if the Chair rules that a discussion of these matters is out of order, I shall of course accept that riding.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt): I think that the question which has been submitted to this Committee by the representative of India is very appropriate, because, before we consider the inclusion of the item in the agenda, we should like to obtain all the facts concerning the presentation of this item. I feel sure that the representative of the United Kingdom will be kind enough to give us sufficient explanations so that we may be able to form our convictions as to the plausibility of including or of not including this item in the agenda.
I reserve my right to speak again when I receive a reply from the United Kingdom representative, if he kindly consents to give the explanation which is required ,by this assembly and to reply to the question which has been put forward by the Indian representative.
Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): It seems to me that the question raised by the representative of India does relate to the discussion of the agenda.
The CHAIRMAN: If it is the desire of the majority to embark upon a full discussion now, I cannot prevent it. May I, however, remind the Committee that the majority of the members already accepted the inclusion of this item in the agenda when they concurred in the summoning of the Assembly.
I do not say that the matter is not pertinent. The Chair does not wish to limit the discussion of this matter but to conduct this discussion in an orderly way. I must confess to you that the Committee, by showing its desire to start a discussion on a matter which is to be considered in the future, reminds me of the affianced couple who started a discussion on the name to be given to their first child and who ended up by not getting married at all. However, if the representative of the United Kingdom is willing, and he has manifested his willingness to give an explanation, the Chair will have no objection.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): I hope to have an occasion in the course of the next day or two to make a statement to the Assembly, explaining the exact position of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. However, in regard to the particular question raised by the representative of India concerning the recent debate in the House of Lords, I have before me the official report of that debate. On that occasion Lord Hall stated: "I cannot imagine His Majesty's Government carrying out a policy of which it does not approve."
He did not say that my Government would not accept any recommendation of the Assembly. He said that he could not imagine it carrying out a policy which it thought wrong. There is a distinction there. When I speak before the Assembly, my declaration may contain some reservation on that particular aspect of the matter.
The CHAIRMAN: I should now like to call the attention of the members of this Committee to our precise function.
The General Committee is a steering committee. According to rule 33 of the provisional rules of procedure:
"The General Committee shall . . . consider the provisional agenda, together with a- supplementary list, and shall make a report there-on to the General Assembly. It shall consider applications for the inclusion of additional items on the agenda and shall report thereon to the General Assembly."
There are other committees which have to consider political and other matters pertaining to the jurisdiction of the United Nations. But rule 33 states that the General Committee "shall not, however, decide any political questions".
I appeal to all the members to realize that the first step is just to settle the agenda in accordance with our rules of procedure. We shall have an opportunity to discuss all the other matters in plenary meetings or in the other committees.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt): I feel sure that the Chair did not convene this Committee on the recommendation of the General Assembly merely in order to include this item in the agenda. I feel certain that this Committee should discuss the matter a little further. I do not want to discuss the gist of the matter, but, in order to enable me to know if I can accept the inclusion of this item in the agenda, I should like to have some explanations. That would not at all mean discussing the gist of the matter.
When the President convened the General Assembly yesterday, he scheduled the next meeting of the General Assembly for this afternoon. Then, one of my colleagues explained that we could not complete our work until the afternoon. The President, himself, agreed to that. I do not think that the Chair wishes to hamper the preliminary discussions concerning the report of this Committee to the General Assembly. I feel sure that the Chair will not prevent us from hearing the explanations which we may wish to obtain before our decision is taken.
I beg the Chair to listen to what we do have to say before calling this Committee to a vote.
I believe, as I said before, that the question put by the Indian representative was very pertinent. We have other questions to raise. The General Committee is an important committee. It should know, before the matter goes to the General Assembly, what it should recommend to the General Assembly. A report cannot be made merely in two words that this Committee has or has not accepted the item. Before we accept the item or otherwise, we must obtain the explanations we need in order that we may have a sound judgment on the acceptance or refusal of this item.
Mr. ASAF ALI (India): Mr. Chairman, I am indebted to you for allowing this long discussion to proceed. I am equally indebted to the representative of the United Kingdom for having offered an explanation in order to satisfy me.
I regret to say however, that the satisfaction Which I was seeking is still somewhat remote, for the simple reason that Sir Alexander CADOGAN has stated that an authoritative statement made in the House of Lords by Lord Hall in these words: "I cannot imagine His Majesty's Government carrying out a policy of which it does not approve."
I said no more. I simply said that this was exactly what I understood the United Kingdom Government to have stated. Approval and acceptance, as far as I know, in the English language mean more or less the same thing. I may be very much mistaken, because I do not know the language, but it appears to me that if Sir Alexander's statement means that although His Majesty's Government will not carry out a policy of which it does not approve, it does not mean that His Majesty's Government will not accept a recommendation from this Committee or from the United Nations.
I find that this is a distinction without, however, being a difference. It simply means that if our recommendations, whatever they may be, are not acceptable to His Majesty's Government or approved by it, His Majesty's Government will walk out of the whole show.
Is that how the United Nations should work? Once the United Nations has made a decision, every signatory and associate of the United Nations should accept it and agree to carry it out.
I can understand a Member objecting that it was not in a position to do so. We would forgive that Member and say "we excuse you". However, a Member should not state, even whilst we consider its request, that it will have nothing to do with our recommendations, whatever they may be, if they are not approved by that Member or do not correspond to its wishes.
That appears to me to be an exceedingly anomalous position. To proceed to consider this item for inclusion in the agenda, to my mind, would be a sheer waste of time, because the applicant should either state that our recommendations, whatever these may be, will be acceptable to it or beg to be excused from wasting our time.
Mr. Chairman, I am very grateful to you for allowing me to make this supplementary statement. I only wish to elucidate a small point. You stated that the United Nations had agreed to the inclusion—at any rate to the consideration of this item of the agenda, which is perfectly correct, but the debate to which I am referring took place only about a week ago. It took place after you had already taken note of this situation, and, therefore, I am justified hi seeking a clarification on this point.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): The Indian representative stated that I made a distinction that did not constitute a difference. I am not quite sure he would have said that, had he stood in the position of my Government. Any recommendation or decision which the General Assembly may take in this matter may have to be enforced. At the present moment, we bear that responsibility single-handed; and it is a very heavy responsibility.
It is quite easy for other representatives to say that we alone, single-handed, should carry out any decision of the Assembly. If it were a decision which we could not reconcile with our con-science, should we single-handed be expected to expend blood and treasure in carrying it out? I am only going to make a reservation on that particular point, and shall submit it in proper terms in the Assembly.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt): I just wish to say that we again feel grateful to the British representative, who has willingly given us these explanations, and we appreciate them for their value.
I should like to make a general remark, and to this effect I will refer to the words of the Indian representative. I believe there has been a mistake in the interpretation. The United Nations has agreed to consider the agenda and the United Kingdom proposal as a basis for this agenda. However it has not agreed, nor do think my colleagues have agreed to the agenda; as it stands, without any explanation. The consideration of the inclusion of the item on the agenda is the objective of this meeting; it is not the item itself. That is why the Egyptian representative, as well as the Arab delegations have put forward other proposals.
In this connexion, may I say that I think it is wise to take up the Egyptian and Arab proposals because they certainly bear a relation to the item which has been put forward by the United Kingdom delegation. The United Kingdom delegation states that it wants recommendations regarding the future policy in Palestine. We have just made a very concrete—not vague—proposal as to the future policy to be adopted in Palestine. I do not think we can separate one from the other. That is why I now propose, if the Chair and my other colleagues have no objection, that we should take up the Arab proposal concurrently with the United Kingdom proposal, because they are related to each other.
I believe that our proposal is more concrete and more precise than that of the United Kingdom delegation, and that it goes further.
When an additional item is added to the agenda, it is customary that the one which goes furthest be taken first, or at least concurrently with the item which has been put forward before. I have had the honour of sitting on other committees, and I believe that the practice which has been followed until now is that an item related to another similar item, but which goes further, is considered first. It has always been customary that an additional item which has a definite connexion with the previous item be considered as well.
We do not consider that our proposal is different from that of the United Kingdom. It is different only in scope, but not in the essence of the proposal itself. That is why I humbly suggest that this Committee should consider our item concurrently with the United Kingdom item, if not even before.
The CHAIRMAN: The Chair cannot dictate to the Committee what it has to decide. I must obey our rules of procedure. We cannot guide our business by suggestions or proposals which I do not agree with the established and written laws which govern our work.
The Egyptian representative made a suggestion that this Committee should consider including the Arab suggestions in the agenda before that of the United Kingdom. Rule 17 of our rules of procedure states:
"When a special session is called, the agenda for the session shall be confined to the items communicated by the Secretary-General to the Members of the United Nations, unless the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority of the Members present and voting, decides to include additional items."
In London, when this matter was considered, it was established that it was in principle desirable that the agenda of a special session should be limited to the special question or questions which had been submitted by the Members of the United Nations requesting the convening of the special session. It was, however, considered very probable that all the Members would in turn request the inclusion of additional items in responding to the summons for a special session. The paragraph was therefore re-drafted to allow the addition of all the items by a two-thirds majority decision of the General Assembly, thus retaining the principle of restriction.
I again call the attention of the members of this Committee to the duties of our General Committee. We have only procedural attributions, and this Committee has to respect and not invade the other attributions and functions of the other committees or of the Assembly itself.
Our jurisdiction and our competence is established in rule 33, and we cannot increase or reduce it by allowing the consideration of the matters suggested by the Indian and Egyptian representatives.
The Chair was very liberal in asking the United Kingdom representative to reply, and was just trying to settle this matter in order that our work might proceed. But there is no doubt that because I have laws to obey, I cannot allow the starting of a political discussion concerning the question for which we were summoned in this Committee. This Committee, I repeat, is a procedural body, a steering body, whose only functions, as established in our rules of procedure, are to adopt or not to adopt, in accordance with the suggestions of the Secretary-General, the matters which will be discussed by the other organs of the United Nations, and in particular by the plenary session of the General Assembly.
Now, I rule that this item is under discussion, and at the end of this discussion we shall vote.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt): I just wish you to bear with me while I prove to you that I am speaking in bona fide and that I never meant to discuss the substance of the question. I have here with me the provisional rules of procedure of the General Assembly. Since the Chair has quoted a few of these rules, I should like to point out first of all that the question which has been raised was not raised by me. It was raised by the Indian representative. While I heartily approve of the point he raised, which I find pertinent, I did intend to engage in a discussion of the provisional rules of procedure.
The Chair has cited rule 17, but, as a former judge, I believe that we cannot take one rule and discuss it without knowing about the others. I Rule 18 says that whenever any Member of the United Nations wants to put an additional item on the agenda, he has the right to do so, provided the request is made four days before the f meeting. We have done this in conformity with this rule.
I should like now to refer to rule 33 cited by the Chair. There we find written very legibly the words: "The General Committee shall at the beginning of each session consider the provisional agenda, together with the supplementary list..." Therefore, our proposal would be on the supplementary list.
Moreover, our item is not a new one, but an amendment to the United Kingdom item. Therefore, I consider that it is submitted in connexion I with the United Kingdom proposal, and not as a separate item.
I should like to know, before we proceed to the discussion of the United Kingdom item, whether the Chair is of the opinion that this Committee does not even have the right to discuss the item which we have submitted for inclusion on the agenda in conformity with rule 18.
If the Chair, by citing these rules, means to exclude us from discussing that item, I should like to ask whether this is the intention of the Chair, when rule 33 states that "the General Committee shall . . . . consider the provisional agenda, together with the supplementary list"? When I receive a reply to that question, I should like to say a few additional words.
The CHAIRMAN: I shall reply to the Egyptian representative. In accordance with our rules of procedure and with the suggestion of the Secretary-General, I suggest that we vote on the inclusion of the United Kingdom proposal in the agenda and that we discuss afterwards the inclusion of the other items. These items must be considered one after the other. I cannot place them on the agenda all at the same time, nor can I give priority to one suggestion rather than to another. This special session was summoned at the request of the United Kingdom and that I cannot change. We must discuss and vote on the inclusion of the United Kingdom proposal, as I have suggested; that procedure had the approval of all Members which came to this Assembly. Immediately after that, we shall consider all other items, which will or will not be included on the agenda, in accordance with the wishes of the Assembly, but not of the Committee. We shall simply report to the Assembly.
I think I have replied to the question of the Egyptian representative, but I should like to give an additional explanation as regards rule 18. That rule states:
"Any Member of the United Nations may, at least four days before the date fixed for the opening of a special session, request the inclusion of additional items in the agenda.
Such items shall be placed on a supplementary list which shall be communicated to the Members of the United Nations as soon as possible."
That is the rule invoked by the Egyptian representative, and I proceed accordingly. How-ever, that rule specifies that additional items shall be placed on a supplementary list, not on the preferential list.
I hope I have given a plain and clear explanation. I fear that, by using a language which I speak with difficulty, I might be contributing to the confusion we are experiencing at the moment; however, I hope that, with goodwill, my few words will be well understood.
Mr. PONCE (Ecuador): I agree with the ruling of the Chair on this point. If we are going to make any progress, we must keep order, and I think the agenda should therefore be examined by this Committee item by item.
The delegation of Ecuador is in favour of including item 1 in the agenda. However, in order to keep in mind the point so properly raised by the representative of India, I think that it should be stated in the report of this Committee to the Assembly that item 1 of the agenda requires a satisfactory explanation from the United Kingdom delegation as regards the efficacy of the participation of the United Nations in the solution of the Palestine problem.
The CHAIRMAN: Item 1 of the agenda is under discussion. If no member of this Committee wishes to discuss this matter further, I shall put it to a vote.
Mr. ASAF ALI (India): Before we vote, I wish to ask a question of the representative of the United Kingdom. I hope that this request will be supported by some kind of memorandum before the full session of the Assembly. Here we have only a request, but we also ought to hear the whole case. When I say that, I should like to assure the representative of the United Kingdom that, although he may seem to doubt my sympathy for His Majesty's Government, I have the deepest sympathy for his Majesty's Government on account of its present untenable position. However, we must take into consideration certain facts, and it was only by way of seeking the elucidation of a somewhat obscure point that I, in a way, started this discussion. I am glad that it has to a certain extent cleared the air, and I do hope that it will also lead to further clarification satisfactory to all the members of the Committee.
The only point to which I invite the attention of the United Kingdom representative is whether a memorandum will be submitted to the General Assembly.
The CHAIRMAN: I should like to explain to the representative of India that the only way to place all these memoranda and explanations before the General Assembly is to put them on the agenda. That, however, is not the function of the General Committee.
Mr. ASAF ALI (India): Definitely, sir.
Sir Alexander CADOGAN (United Kingdom): I only wish to repeat that I hope, in the course of the next few days, to make before the Assembly a statement of the case in general, including a declaration on this particular point.
Following the usual procedure, there will probably be a verbatim record of that statement, and I hope that the representative of India and other representatives will accept it as satisfactory.
The CHAIRMAN: I have drawn up a recommendation for the Committee concerning the inclusion of the United Kingdom proposal in the agenda, the text of which reads as follows:
"The General Committee,
"Having considered the item on the provisional agenda (document A/293) entitled 'Constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for the consideration of the question of Palestine at the second regular session',
"Recommends that the item should be placed on the agenda of the General Assembly, and that it should be referred to the First Committee."
Mr. PEARSON (Canada): I have no desire to question the inclusion of this item in the agenda, but I am wondering whether it would not serve to hasten our proceedings if we could deal with it in the Assembly, without referring it to a Committee. I say that purely in the interest of speed and efficiency.
The CHAIRMAN: The Egyptian representative has asked for recognition, and I shall call on him before replying to the Canadian representative.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt): I was going to express a view similar to that which has been ex-pressed by the Canadian representative. We have not even discussed the question of which committee is to consider this item. We have just discussed the possibility of including it in the agenda, but have not at all examined the question of referring the matter to a specific committee.
The CHAIRMAN: In reply to the Canadian and Egyptian representatives, I wish to call your attention to rule 109, which reads:
"Unless the General Assembly itself decides otherwise, it shall not make a final decision upon items on the agenda until it has received the report of a committee on these items."
In this case, the committee which will make the report is the First Committee, which will be presided over by the Canadian representative. I also wish to explain that the Assembly will hold a general debate, after which the matter will go to the Committee for consideration.
HASSAN Pasha (Egypt): We have no objection to the inclusion of any item in the agenda, but we object to the inclusion of this item as it stands now. We have the right to object to this.
The CHAIRMAN: If there is no other objection, I shall consider this recommendation adopted.
Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): I should like to ask when the proposal made by the representative of Egypt is to be discussed. Will it be discussed after the adoption of a decision on the proposal of the representative of the United Kingdom, or has the Chairman some other procedure in mind? I should like to ask the Chairman to elucidate that matter.
The CHAIRMAN: The Chair agrees with the representative of the Soviet Union that we shall enter into consideration of the other proposals after the United Kingdom proposal is approved.
Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) : I did not make any suggestion; I merely asked a question.
The CHAIRMAN: I consider the inclusion in the agenda of the United Kingdom proposal adopted.
The inclusion of the United Kingdom proposal in the agenda was adopted.
The CHAIRMAN: The meeting is adjourned until 3 p.m.
The meeting rose at 12.45 p.m.
1/ Proceedings of the first to twenty-seventh meetings, during the first session, 1946, were published, as summary records in the Official Records of the first session of the General Assembly.
2/ See Provisional rules of procedure for the General Assembly, as amended during the first and second parts of the first session (document A/71/Rev.l).