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        General Assembly
8 August 1958

Official Records732nd Plenary Meeting
Friday, 8 August 1958,
at 5 p.m.
New YOrk


Convening of the meeting by the Secretary-General.................................... Pg. 1

Agenda item 1:
Opening of the session by the Chairman of the delegation of New Zealand..............Pg. 1

Agenda item 2:
Minute of silent prayer or meditation.................................................Pg. 1

Statement by the President............................................................Pg. 1

Agenda item 3:
Appointment of a Credentials Committee................................................Pg. 2

Agenda item 4:
Adoption of the agenda................................................................Pg. 2

Agenda item 5:
Questions considered by the Security Council at its 838th meeting on 7 August 1958....Pg. 3

Statement by the Secretary-General....................................................Pg. 4

The printed official records of the General Assembly are published in fascicle form, the record of each meeting being issued separately. In order that the fascicles may subsequently be bound' in. volumes by organ and session, the pagination is continuous throughout each series of records of a single body. At the end of the session, a prefatory fascicle is issued for each series, containing a table of contents, list of members, agenda and other prefatory matter.

After the close of the session, collated sets of fascicles will be Placed on sale for the general public.

President: Sir Leslie MUNRO (New Zealand).


Convening of the meeting by the Secretary-General

1. The SECRETARY-GENERAL: I should like, if I may, to draw attention to rule 65 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, which provides that the President and Vice-Presidents for an emergency special session shall be, respectively, the chairmen of those delegations from which were elected the President and Vice-Presidents of the previous session. In accordance with the provisions of this rule, I have the honour to invite Sir Leslie Munro, Chairman of the delegation of New Zealand, to occupy the chair of the President in order that he may, in that capacity, declare open the third emergency special session of the General Assembly.

Sir Leslie Munro took the chair.


Opening of the session by the Chairman of the delegation of New Zealand

2. The PRESIDENT : I declare open the third emergency special session of the General Assembly.


Minute of silent prayer or meditation

3. The PRESIDENT : In accordance with rule 64 of the rules of procedure, I invite the representatives to stand and to observe one minute of silence dedicated to prayer or meditation.

The representatives stood in silence.

Statement by the President

4. The PRESIDENT : By reason of my previous Presidency and of my chairmanship of the New Zealand delegation, I now occupy this position before you. I thank you for this high honour, both for my country and myself.

5. In assuming my duties, I am heartened by the belief that in this Assembly there exists a genuine and a strong desire to see the United Nations take further practical measures to safeguard peace in the Middle East.

6. None of us will wish to minimize the difficulties we confront. All of us are aware that the basic problems admit of no easy solution. We in the United Nations have lived with those problems long enough to know the measure of the effort that must be made to maintain any kind of stability in this important region. If the countries of the area are denied that stability, progress towards political settlements becomes impossible. Tension and distrust block the way to a region-wide assault on poverty and want. Failing co-operation in the joint measures which the welfare of the area so urgently demands, national advancement will remain partial and haphazard. In this area, as in the world at large, the peaceful challenges are enormous. In this area, as in the world at large, it is tragic that unrest and hostility should impair the joint capacity to face those challenges.

7. When we review the record of the United Nations in the Middle East, we must admit that, although much has been accomplished, very much remains to be done. In recalling what we have accomplished, let us also recall, with admiration and gratitude, the great contribution which has been made by our distinguished Secretary-General and his most able staff. In a very real sense, we have been able to do what has been done because we have had the services of a Secretary-General who possesses long experience, diplomatic skill of the highest order and a unique knowledge of the constructive capabilities of this Organization. In discharging the responsibilities which have been placed upon him in respect of the problems of the Middle East, Mr. Hammarskjold has demonstrated a deep and compassionate understanding of the human issues and an admirable executive ability. We can, I know, in approaching our present discussions, repose our complete confidence in our Secretary-General.

8. We are meeting today in an emergency special session against a background of debate in the Security Council and of regrettably inconclusive exchanges among the great Powers, looking towards a meeting of Heads of Government within the framework of the United Nations.

9. The peoples of the world will, in the present situation, look to us to intensify the efforts we are committed to make and are already making to reduce tension and strengthen security in the Middle East. The peoples of the world will also expect us, at the very least, to renew our search for agreements on what should be done to settle the many remaining problems.

10. In talking up its work, the General Assembly will, I am sure, act in full awareness of the heavy responsibilities resting upon it, It must, of course, be understood that the United Nations is only in a very limited sense a legal entity separate from its Members. In the introduction to his annual report to the twelfth session of the General Assembly [A/3594/Add.1], the Secretary-General reminded us that the United Nations is not endowed by the Charter with any of the attributes of a super-State or of a body active outside the framework of decisions of Member Governments. In the Middle East, a solution of present difficulties depends primarily on Member States in that area. I would also emphasize the important role of the great Powers, whose policies and relationships inevitably bring consequences from which no country and no region can stand aloof. But no Member of the United Nations, great or small, can afford to divest itself of its obligation to assist in the search for a settlement. If through the United Nations we fail in this high endeavour, the blame will fall upon those, great and small, primarily responsible for the stability and progress of the area.

11. In our deliberations, let us endeavour to reach a dispassionate and objective understanding of the origins of the present tension and anxiety. I earnestly hope that all delegations can refrain from making unworthy propaganda and will be scrupulous to avoid polemics or abuse. Let us he guided by the duty we owe to the United Nations Charter and to the people we represent to devote our energies to constructive purposes.

12. I shall not speak to you in terms of drama. There is no need for drama where urgency is so great and insistent. All the events of the past few weeks at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa and amid the treasures and the poverties of the peoples in this vital area, point to the overwhelming necessity for full, free and informed debate, for the removal from our decisions or recriminations over the past and passions over the future, and for practical proposals for the solution of manifold problems.

13. If, in all this, I am an optimist and an idealist, then I accept the appellation, for the past weighs too heavily on the Middle East, and its future is pregnant with significance for the whole world. Surely all the peoples of the Middle East, whatever their origin, need and deserve a secure and fruitful future in an area which can flower like man's original paradise, if only he can learn to live with his neighbours.

14. Before proceeding to the appointment of the Credentials Committee, I would like to draw the As­sembly's attention to the note circulated by the Secretary-General, entitled "Summoning of the third emergency special session of the General Assembly" [A/3866]. This note sets forth the resolution adopted by the Security Council at its 838th meeting on 7 August 1958 by which the Council decided to call an emergency special session of the General Assembly. The ''. note by the Secretary-General also confirms the telegram which was sent to all Members notifying them that the third emergency special session would convene at Headquarters on 8 August 1958 at 5 p.m.


Appointment of a Credentials Committee

15. The PRESIDENT: We shall now proceed to the appointment of a Credentials Committee. I would refer to rule 28 of the rules of procedure which establishes that the Committee shall consist of nine members appointed on the proposal of the President.

16. It would, it seems to me, be appropriate and indeed in keeping with the spirit of the rules to suggest that the Credentials Committee for this special session should have the same composition as that which was appointed for the twelfth regular session. The Credentials Committee would then be composed of the following members : Burma, Canada, Iceland, Liberia, Nicaragua, Panama, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America. Unless there are objections, I shall take it that this proposal is adopted.

It was so decided.

17. The PRESIDENT : May I add that the Secretary-General in his telegram of convocation indicated that the credentials of those delegates who are not already authorized to represent their Governments in the General Assembly should be issued in accordance with rule 27 of the rules of procedure and may be presented to him by cable.


Adoption of the agenda

18. The PRESIDENT: Members will have noted that in accordance with rule 16 of the rules of proce­dure, the Secretary-General communicated in the telegram of convocation, the provisional agenda of the session [A/3867].

19. Rule 65 of the rules of procedure provides that the Assembly, in case of an emergency special session, shall convene in plenary session only and proceed directly to consider the item proposed for consideration in the request for the holding of the session, without previous reference to the General Committee or to any other committee.

20. If there is no objection I shall take it that the As­sembly now agrees to convene only in plenary session for the consideration of the item proposed.

It was so decided.

21. The PRESIDENT : Item 5 of the provisional agenda reads as follows : "Questions considered by the Security Council at its 838th meeting on 7 August 1958". I assume that there is no objection to the in­clusion of the item in the agenda.

The item was included in the agenda.

The agenda was adopted.


Questions considered by the Security Council at its 838th meeting on 7 August 1958

22. Mr. SOBOLEV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian) : The Soviet delega­tion voted in favour of the adoption of the provisional agenda of the third emergency special session of the General Assembly on the assumption that the main purpose of this session is to take effective measures to ease international tension and to remove the danger of war that has arisen as a result of the aggressive actions of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Near and Middle East.

23. The General Assembly must bring about the rapid and complete cessation of armed intervention in the Near and Middle East and the establishment of conditions in that area which would protect its peoples against foreign interference in their domestic affairs. In the first place, measures must be taken for the immediate withdrawal of United States forces from Lebanon and of United Kingdom forces from Jordan, as their presence there constitutes a continuing threat to the peace and independence of the peoples concerned and a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, which cannot be condoned by any State Member of the United Nations.

24. As we know, the Security Council, owing to its present composition and to the policy pursued by the United States in respect of the Council, has been unable to take effective measures to check the deepening military conflict in the Arab East. Accordingly, the Security Council has been unable to fulfil the responsi­bility for the maintenance of international peace and security conferred on it by the Charter.

25. In these circumstances, the General Assembly, in well large and small nations alike are represented, is called upon to settle the problem of the urgent withdrawal of United States forces from Lebanon and of United Kingdom forces from Jordan in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter. That would help to remove the real danger of an extension of the military conflict, thus bringing tranquillity to the area of the Near and Middle East and relaxing tension throughout the world.

26. The Soviet delegation expresses the hope that the action and decisions of the third emergency special ses­sion of the General Assembly will lead to the easing of international tension, the strengthening of peace and the removal of the threat of a new world war. Aggres­sion against the countries of the Arab East must be halted ; peace must prevail.

27. Mr. LODGE (United States of America) : I think it is regrettable that the Soviet representative should begin this special session with an attack on the Government of my country. I had hoped for a good atmosphere. We had a unanimous vote last night in the Security Council [838th meeting] which I worked hard to try to bring about. It would have been a good omen if this special session could have begun not in an atmosphere of recrimination but in a spirit of forward-looking constructiveness. But all of us, whenever our Governments are attacked, have no choice of course but to defend our Governments. I am sure that any one of you, if you were in my place, would undertake to do what I am doing-doubtless much better than I will do it.

28. The United States has from the very beginning made clear its intention to withdraw its troops whenever the Government of Lebanon desired it and whenever the United Nations was able to function effectively to serve to ensure Lebanon's independence. That of course is not the heart of the problem before us and the Soviet representative knows it.

29. I will not dwell on the astonishing spectacle of the representative of a Government which has for two years spurned United Nations requests to withdraw its troops from Hungary speaking as Mr. Sobolev has just done. In any case, it has become clear that the Soviet Union was pressing for a special session of the General Assembly because of the chance which it thought such a session would afford to attack the United States.

30. But that was clearly not the purpose of the Security Council yesterday when it voted for the United States draft resolution, under the terms of which this session of the General Assembly is being held. It was clearly not in the minds of those sitting in the Security Council when no one raised any objection to the Soviet representative's action last night in withdrawing his own draft resolution and not even letting it come to a vote. Certainly the purpose of the United States in introducing a draft resolution for a special session of the General Assembly was to promote a chance for constructive action on the Middle East and not another forum for invective. As I said in the Security Council [838th meeting] and I should like to repeat it now because it is what the United States deeply believes:

31. We have a chance to turn over a new leaf and to start a new chapter in human history. Let us not waste our time and add to world tensions by senseless and ill-founded recriminations.

32. The PRESIDENT : Decisions have now been taken by the General Assembly with respect to the organization of the emergency special session and its agenda. So far as the substantive consideration of the item before us is concerned, I have been advised by a number of delegations that they feel it would be desirable, in the interests of the discussion itself and in the light of the issues raised, to allow a few days to elapse before entering into the substance of the question. I can appreciate too the difficulties some representatives may have in coming here. This same view was reflected, as you know, in the Security Council yesterday, and I am therefore going to suggest to the General Assembly that this meeting be adjourned and that a plenary meeting be fixed for Wednesday at 10.30 am.

33. Before asking the Assembly's opinion on this suggestion, I shall call on the Secretary-General, who wishes to make a statement at this time.

Statement by the Secretary-General

34. The SECRETARY-GENERAL: Item 5 on the agenda of this emergency session refers specifically to situations in the Middle East which have arisen only recently. Seen in their broader context, however, these situations draw attention to basic problems facing the United Nations in the Middle East. In these circumstances, Members of the General Assembly may find it useful if, at this early stage of the deliberations, I outline some of the basic needs for action in the region, which, in view of the experience of the Secretariat, require urgent attention. It would be premature for me now to indicate along what lines solutions might be sought. I hope that in this respect the debate in the General Assembly will prove to be fruitful. An indication of the needs as seen by the Secretariat may serve as a basis on which Members might wish to develop positive and constructive suggestions.

35. The arrangements by which the United Nations, through the United Nations Emergency Force, assists the Government of the United Arab Republic in Gaza and along the international frontier between Egypt and Israel, and serves to maintain quiet in that area, have worked out in a way which, I believe, may be a source of satisfaction to all Members of the United Nations. Similarly, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization continues to function, under the terms of reference established by the armistice agreements. Although the scope of its activities has been restricted, and in spite of difficulties, this body also represents an essential element in the efforts of the United Nations to stabilize conditions in the area.

36. On the basis of the Security Council resolution of 11 June 1958 [S/4023], the United Nations has organized a third operation in the Middle East, the United Nations Observation Group in Lebanon. It has already rendered very useful service and its further development is, in the light of our experience, fully justified. However, the present operation is related to conditions which may be temporary, and the time may not be distant when a change of those conditions would call for a change of approach. Recent experiences may be taken as indicating that some form of United Nations representation in the country might be a desirable expression of the continued concern of the Organization for the independence and integrity of Lebanon. If that proves to be the case, forms should be sought by which such representation would adequately serve the purposes of the Organization in the region. However, the arrangements that should be made, once the time has come to reconsider the United Nations representation in Lebanon in the light of developments in the country, will depend, ultimately, on the attitude of the Government of Lebanon itself.

37. Another part of the region which presents specific problems is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with its central location on the map of the area. In the period through which we are passing, it appears that the United Nations should give special attention to the essential role which this country has to play in the efforts of the Organization to assist in creating conditions for peaceful and constructive development. In the present circumstances, some strengthening of the Truce Supervision Organization, within the framework of the General Armistice Agreements, may have to be considered. Were it to be felt that special measures would be desirable, in addition to the activities of that Organization, the question would arise how such measures should be developed so that they are adequate in the specific situation prevailing in Jordan. Consideration should also be given to the question how the measures taken might best be co-ordinated with the other United Nations arrangements in the region.

38. However, activities like those of the United Nations Emergency Force, the Truce Supervision Organization, the United Nations Observation Group in Lebanon and such other organs as the General Assembly might wish to consider, are only safeguards created to assist the Governments concerned. The developments in which the United Nations and all Member States within or outside the region are interested can be supported by such measures, but ultimately they must depend on, and will be effectively shaped by, actions of the Member States in the region.

39. Arab nations have already co-operated within the Arab League, and they all have subscribed to the principles of mutual respect for each other's territories, integrity and sovereignty, of non-aggression, of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and of equal and mutual benefit. Were the States concerned in the present troubled situation jointly to reaffirm their adherence to such principles, that step would be of considerable assistance to the general efforts in which the United Nations is engaged. Steps that might be taken in the direction of an agreement or a declaration to that effect, and of accommodations of policies to those principles, should therefore have the support of the Organization.

40. To the extent that the Arab nations would find it possible to translate the principles mentioned into joint practical action, the Organization should be prepared to render assistance of a technical nature and to give the necessary support. This is so especially in the field of economic co-operation, since one of the major aims of the United Nations is to make its contribution to the efforts of the Governments and peoples to improve, in co-operation, their economic and social conditions. By studies made within the Secretariat, and with the assistance of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, we have, in the Secretariat, tried to prepare ourselves to afford such assistance as the countries concerned may request.

41. The need for arrangements for economic co-operation within the region has been strongly felt in the work of the United Nations, especially as regards the financial field, where the creation of the proper institutions would considerably facilitate the flow of funds needed in the region. However, arrangements for economic co-operation also in other fields would, in the light of our experience, be helpful. I have in mind especially arrangements giving a proper framework to the co-operation between oil-producing and oil-transiting countries, or made with a view to a joint utilization of water resources.

42. The need for a closer co-operation in the various fields to which I have just referred could best be met through institutions created by the free initiative of the countries in the region. The Organization could make an essential contribution by extending its encouragement, support and technical assistance to the independent efforts of the nations in the region to fill that need.

43. Finally, it is clear, in the light of experience, that both the arrangements for direct United Nations representation in various parts of the area to which I have referred, and such arrangements for co-operation as might be made by agreement among the Arab countries, will require the recognition by the world community of the particular problems and possibilities of the region. Most countries in the area have only recently emerged with their present political character of independent sovereign States, with close mutual ties and with a strong sense of the rights and duties which flow from the particular heritage of the Arab peoples. We know that the problems and aspirations of these peoples meet with general respect and understanding. It would be helpful in promoting the purposes of the United Nations in the area if this respect and this understanding were to be given general expression, assuring the peoples there that they may shape their own destinies in the best interest of each nation within the region and of the region as a whole.

44. It is my belief that, if the General Assembly in its present deliberations could find a way toward furthering developments to meet the needs I have indicated, a basis would be provided on which we could hope to deal with the other serious problems of the area with which the Organization has been engaged for years. First among those problems stands the question of the refugees. It continues to be urgent, but its solution may have to await the creation of the more favourable gen­eral conditions which would follow, were the other needs to which I have referred to be successfully met.

45. The PRESIDENT : I thank the Secretary-General. Members, I am sure, will wish to study and give careful attention to the views which the Secretary-General has just expressed, within a broad context, on the problems involved.
The meeting rose at 5.50 p.m.

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