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        General Assembly
14 August 1958

Official Records734nd Plenary Meeting
Thursday, 14 August 1958,
at 10.30 p.m.
New York


Agenda item 5:
Questions considered by the Security Council at its 838th meeting on 7 August 1958 (continued)....Pg. 19

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President: Sir Leslie MUNRO (New Zealand).



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

1. Mr. LLOYD (United Kingdom): In the introduction to the Secretary-General's annual report to the twelfth session of the General Assembly [A/3594/ Add.1 ], he referred to the United Nations as being an instrument of negotiation between Governments, and he said that this Organization can blunt the edges of conflict between nations; it can serve a diplomacy of reconciliation.

2. Now, those words were very much in mind when I came to this special session. I had and I still have high hopes that we shall succeed in reconciling our points of view and achieving some constructive results in the next few days. If I may say so, I thought that President Eisenhower's address yesterday [733rd meeting] was an admirable introduction to such an en­deavour. His fine speech with its constructive and imaginative ideas has been most warmly welcomed.

3. I want, however, frankly to confess that I was disappointed by the tone and substance of the speech made at the same meeting by the Soviet Foreign Minister. One representative said to me afterwards, "Well, you know, the last three minutes of Mr. Gromyko's speech were not so bad". That may be true. It is a relative judgement. The other thirty-one minutes were certainly much to be regretted.

4. Of course, when Mr. Gromyko makes a speech of this sort, he does create a dilemma for those who follow him, because if the speech is answered, then he says that we have been indulging in polemics. If the speech is not answered, he claims that that proves that his accusations were true.

5. Therefore, I do propose to answer him on one or two points in as moderate terms as possible. I pass over some of his more extravagant flights of fancy, phrases like "violators of the peace", "trampling the Charter underfoot", "consolidating colonial regimes", "imperialistic intrigues", "shameful fiascos", and that kind of invective. I will content myself with making the following points.

6. First of all, Mr. Gromyko got the record wrong. He made out that the General Assembly is meeting to consider the presence of United States troops and United Kingdom troops in Lebanon and Jordan. That is not true. What we are really meeting to consider is the complaint of Lebanon and Jordan of interference from outside in their internal affairs, and the problems resulting therefrom. These complaints were raised, as they should be, in the Security Council, and the Security Council was disposed to deal with them in a constructive manner but was frustrated by the Soviet veto.

7. Secondly, he alleged that the United Kingdom had made an armed intervention against Jordan. The fact is that we responded to a specific and undisputed request from the legitimate Government of Jordan, and to call that action aggression is just plain nonsense; and exactly the same applies to the action of the United States in Lebanon.

8. Thirdly, he said that the United States and the United Kingdom had turned the Middle East into an arsenal. Well, in fact, we all know that nothing has done more to create tension and instability in the area than the massive supplies of Soviet arms; and these still continue.

9. Fourthly, he accused us of having increased tension because in the past we did not negotiate about the Middle East with the Soviet Union, I have always been doubtful about the wisdom of the great Powers trying to prescribe remedies for the problems of small countries in particular areas, especially remedies about which they are not consulted. Of course, there is also the doubt, about negotiations of that sort, whether they will be used by the Soviet Union to increase tension rather than to diminish it. I must say, in all frankness, that discus­sions conducted in the tone of Mr. Gromyko's speech of yesterday would be unlikely to serve any useful purpose.

10. There is much more that I could say: a distorted account of a confidential discussion, the allegations about Germany, Italy, Turkey and Israel, the excursion to China and so on. But what I really found most depressing was the contradiction between his peaceful professions and the tone and substance of his speech. I remembered as I listened how, at the beginning of the twelfth session, he submitted a draft resolution [A/3673] suggesting that countries should not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. I pointed out then [685th meeting] that his proposal came ill from a country which at that time, by broadcast beamed on certain countries, was conducting campaigns against them designed to overthrow their lawful Governments. And it is just the same today. And I find the efforts which the Soviet Union has made in the last few weeks - efforts to whip up fears of war, to create a kind of international hysteria-inconsistent with their professed desire to reduce tension.

11. I remember once being in the law courts and the judge in the court could not hear a female witness. He asked the young advocate whose witness she was to get her to speak up. The young man asked the witness to do so in a very small, thin voice, and the judge tapped the table and said, "Young man, example is better than precept." I would say to Mr. Gromyko that when reduction of tension is under discussion, example will carry greater conviction about Soviet good intentions than any amount of verbal precept.

12. Having said that about his speech, I nevertheless hope that our discussions of these Middle Eastern problems here in the special session of the General Assembly will be conducted so that a constructive result can ensue because I am confident that it is within our power to achieve acceptable solutions.

13. Involved in the situation there are short-term and longer-term problems. It would be quite wrong to eliminate from our discussions the broader and longer-term aspects. President Eisenhower dealt yesterday with some of these broader aspects.

14. First, there is the question of economic development. The Secretary-General in his speech on 8 August 1958 [732nd meeting] spoke of what could be done by the United Nations in the field of economic co-operation, and he referred to the studies being made within the Secretariat and with the assistance of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development with regard to furnishing such assistance as the countries concerned might request. He referred to the creation of the proper institutions to facilitate the flow of funds needed in the region and the making of arrangements giving a proper framework to the co-operation of the countries of the area or made with a view to the joint utilization of water resources. I think that the far-sighted proposals made by President Eisenhower yesterday were a wise development of those ideas. As the President and Mr. Hammarskjold made clear, assistance in this field must be requested by the countries concerned, and the necessary institutions must be created in the region. This is not something which can be imposed from outside. As President Eisenhower said, even the United States with its great resources would not seek a leading position in this co-operation. All this seems to me to offer fruitful ground for study and for action, and we of the United Kingdom, for our part, will give such help as may be within our power to give and which is acceptable to the countries concerned.

15. Another broader matter to which President Eisen­hower referred yesterday and upon which we too have some positive thoughts is that of radio propaganda directed by one country against another. During the last war, particularly, radio propaganda was an instrument of national policy; the combatants sought to carry on the war not only in the field but over the air; it was a very powerful and effective weapon. I believe, how-ever, it is quite inappropriate for a peaceful world. I am not suggesting one standard for one group of countries or one region of the world, and other standards for other groups or regions. I believe that all of us should submit to a certain discipline in this matter. I think there could be no quicker way of easing tension than for countries to give up this conception that the radio should be used to impose views upon other coun­tries or to subvert their peoples or to incite them to violence and to bloodshed.

16. Mr. Fawzi, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic, spoke movingly at the end of his short speech yesterday about peace and brotherhood. When I heard him express those admirable sentiments I could not help remembering a report which I had recently read about the activities of the official Cairo radio, in particular of their programme called "Voice of the Arabs". On 4 July of this year, the fourth anniversary of this programme, Dr. Ahmad Said, its first director, praised God - I quote his words - "for these blessed revolutions which broke out in every part of the Arab homeland and in which the "Voice of the Arabs" played a leading role which is recognized by the enemy". Peace and brotherhood. I do not believe that it is consistent with our ideas of a world order that the official radio of one country should seek to promote bloody revolutions in other countries, and incidentally to congratulate itself upon its success in so doing. I believe we have to have a different standard of behaviour accepted among nations. I suggest that as a first step the United Nations should give serious consideration to the possibility of reports being submitted to Member States at periodic intervals on the kind of material which is being broadcast throughout the world.

17. Thirdly, in dealing with the broader considerations, there is the question of a permanent United Nations force. Many of us have been giving thought to this matter also and have been awaiting with interest the report which is to be made by the Secretary-General during the next session of the General Assembly.

18. It is our hope that settlements of disputes between nations should be achieved within the framework of the United Nations. If the United Nations is truly regarded as an instrument in the diplomacy of reconciliation, then there is a good prospect that we shall with patience and good will be able to work out settlements within this framework. The difficulty, however, has been and still is to ensure that speedy action can be taken in an emergency. If the United States and the United Kingdom had not taken the action which they did in the week beginning 14 July 1958, I do not believe that either Lebanon or Jordan would have survived as independent countries. The United Nations would have been confronted with accomplished facts and no amount of talk here would have restored independence to those two countries. I think that is a plain statement of fact. I think that the existence of what President Eisenhower so well described as a "stand-by United Nations peace force" could make possible quick action in an emergency, quick action which would not be dependent upon the willingness of individual countries to act on their own. There could be an additional safeguard for the smaller countries in that the United Nations itself would have an instrument ready to hand of which, with agreement, speedy use could be made. That is all I wish to say about the broader and longer-term aspects of these matters.

19. I want now to revert to the situation in Jordan and to the British action there. I wish to state the reason for our action and our intentions for the future. Our general objectives can be stated simply. We wish to preserve the independence and integrity of small countries. That has been the aim of our policies throughout the years. It is intrinsic in our attitude to nationalism. We have done as much as any other country to promote nationalism and a great deal more than other countries to create new nations. During the last hundred years or so the nine other members of the Commonwealth have become independent. We welcomed the latest of them, Malaya, as a Member of this Organization last September. There are other countries in the Commonwealth well on their way to full independence.

20. Other countries for which we were at one time responsible have also become independent. One of these is Jordan. And in parentheses I would say this: compare that record with the record of those who presume to criticize tis now as colonizers. Remember the other small countries which have been eliminated or subjugated over the past twenty years or so in Europe.

21. But this process of helping countries towards independence becomes futile if these countries when independent are to be subjected to pressures from outside which make their continued independence impossible. In this case Jordan, a small country whose independence we had promoted, with whom we had had close ties in the past, asked us for help on the grounds that its independence was threatened. We gave that help. We did so because we believed that its fears and its complaints were justified.

22. We believe that that action conformed to the spirit of the Charter and was in accordance with the established rules of international law. If countries are not prepared to act in similar circumstances as we did in response to an appeal from a legitimate Government, I do not think that any small country will regard itself as safe. Therefore, I state that our action on 17 July was fully justified, and in my view any dispassionate observer would admit that it has contributed to stability in the area.

23. I do not want to say too much about what might have happened or about the potential dangers of the situation. But those who have studied developments in the Middle East since 1948 will realize what those dangers are without my describing them and will realize how strong an interest we all have in preventing a situation being created in which there could be a real danger of war.

24. Our troops are not in Jordan for any military purpose of their own. Their presence does not constitute a threat to any country. We shall at any time withdraw our troops if the lawful Government of Jordan requests it, or if suitable arrangements are made to protect Jordan from external threat and to maintain its independence and integrity. On 21 July 1958 the United Kingdom representative informed the Security Council that the United Kingdom proposed to explore urgently with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in consultation with the Government of Jordan, the possibility of devising some form of effective action by the United Nations to achieve these purposes.

25. I believe that it should be possible to devise suitable United Nations arrangements with the consent of the Government of Jordan and with the co-operation of other Governments concerned, What we want are conditions of stability, the absence of threats from outside the country-conditions in which normal political processes can function, which is the right of any free country.

26. I have been asked by many delegations what specific arrangements I have in mind. I think it would be unwise at this stage to go into detail. One of the advantages of our meeting here is that we have the opportunity of private consultation and discussion, and Mr. Gromyko mentioned that fact in his last three minutes. All I would say at the moment is that one of the most important things to do is to give Jordan confidence in its continuing right to exercise, without interference from outside, the normal attributes of sovereignty.

27. So far as the United Kingdom Government is concerned, the sooner such arrangements are made, the better, The more quickly these arrangements are made on a practical and realistic basis, the more quickly it will be possible for us to withdraw our troops. Those who wish for a speedy withdrawal have only to co-operate sincerely and genuinely in making arrangements which will be effective.

28. Accordingly I should hope, as the outcome of our debate and our meeting, that the General Assembly would take note of the complaints which have been made by the Governments of Lebanon and Jordan and of the action which the United States and the United Kingdom Governments took in response to their appeals for help, and that it should reaffirm the responsibility resting upon the United Nations to deal with the problem of indirect aggression. So far as the particular problems of Lebanon and Jordan are concerned, the Assembly should request the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps in consultation with the Governments concerned to help maintain the independence and integrity of these two countries so as to create conditions under which United States and United Kingdom, forces can be withdrawn from Lebanon and Jordan.

29. I would also hope that the Assembly would seek to further the longer-term proposals to which I have already referred and which could make so great a contribution to peace and stability. I am sure that such an approach as I have outlined merits the co-operation of all Governments here concerned, whatever their views, By such action, I think the Assembly will have met the challenge presented to it by the events of the past few weeks.

The meeting rose at 11.15 a.m.

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