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        General Assembly
7 May 1947


Held at Lake Success, New York, on Wednesday, 7 May 1947, at 4.45 p.m.

President: Mr. O. ARANHA (Brazil).

18. Consideration of the resolution of the First Committee (document A/C.l/ 153)

The PRESIDENT: The Chairman of the First Committee, Mr. Lester Pearson, has informed me, as President of the General Assembly, that the First Committee at its meeting this morning adopted the following resolution:

"The First Committee "Resolves that it be proposed to the President of the General Assembly that a plenary meeting be called at once to consider the following resolution:

'That the First Committee grant a hearing to the Arab Higher Committee on the question before the Committee.' "

Before calling the General Assembly, I considered it my duty, under rule 33 of the provisional rules of procedure, to consult the General Committee. After consultation with the General Committee, I reached the conclusion that I should propose the following resolution (document A/306), for the consideration of the General Assembly:

"The General Assembly

"Affirms that the decision of the First Committee to grant a hearing to the Arab Higher Committee gives a correct interpretation of the Assembly's intention." I hope the General Assembly will back the resolution of its Chairman.

Within a short time this resolution will be distributed to all the representatives, and then we shall be able to decide upon it.

If there are any comments I will now call on speakers.

Mr. BELT (Cuba) {translated from Spanish): I only want to ask the Chair that this resolution be put to the vote immediately. It is so clear, so precise, that it does not even call for a discussion. And I ask the Assembly to approve it, not only because it is just, but also as a vote of confidence in the President of this Assembly.

Mr. STOLK (Venezuela) {translated from Spanish): The delegation of Venezuela considers that in the question of Palestine all the parties concerned should be heard through then-qualified representatives; but it would like the Chair and the Members of the Assembly to consider that the action taken and the procedure adopted were based on communications and requests submitted to the President of the Assembly or to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Now that the request made by the Arab Higher Committee of Palestine has been withdrawn, I wonder whether we should be proceeding logically in sending an invitation to that Committee for it to be represented.

In other words, for reasons which we all know, the Arab Higher Committee of Palestine has withdrawn its request and it has thus shown its desire not to be heard. Do representatives really consider it a logical procedure that the Assembly should insist that the Committee be present when the request has been withdrawn? Would it not be more logical to hope that this Arab Higher Committee of Palestine will again submit a request to the Assembly?

Mr. MARTINEZ-LACAYO (Nicaragua) {translated from Spanish): On behalf of the delegation of Nicaragua I have the greatest pleasure in seconding the proposal of the representative of our sister Republic of Cuba.

Mr. ZEPHIRIN (Haiti) {translated from French): The terms of the proposal which has just been formulated by the President of the Assembly dispel all my doubts. It is a good parliamentary custom that an assembly be consulted in order to obtain an interpretation of the decision it has already taken, whenever the slightest doubt exists with regard to the meaning of that decision. We are not asked at present to take a new decision, but merely to take an interpretative decision. I shall therefore support the resolution submitted by the General Committee and shall be glad to vote in its favour.

Mr. ASAF ALI (India): Mr. President, permit me to express my thanks to you for having straightened out what appeared to be a resolution which might have been considered, in some respects, exceptionable. You have now, by your draft, satisfied everyone's scruples. We should be grateful to you; as a vote of confidence in you and in the intentions of the august assembly in which we are meeting, I shall vote in favour of the resolution.

Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): Yesterday, the First Committee adopted a decision to extend an invitation to the representatives of the Arab Higher Committee (document A/C.l/153). Nobody raised any objections to a decision of this kind. As far as I remember, it was adopted unanimously. This decision was adopted in accordance with the resolution of the General Assembly (document A/305). The resolution of the General Assembly states that it will transmit communications, received from various organizations, to the First Committee for its decisions. I' Thus, the First Committee is empowered, by this resolution, to take such decisions as it may deem necessary and just. The First Committee acted accordingly.

In such circumstances a question arises as to the reason for this demand to reconfirm powers already conferred on the First Committee. This resolution in fact confirms the decision taken by the First Committee. I consider that there is no necessity to confirm this decision, particularly because, as I have already pointed out, no objection to it was raised. Therefore I see no need to adopt a resolution which would, in a certain sense, weaken both the decision reached by the First Committee and the previous decision adopted by the General Assembly. I repeat, I see no need to adopt a resolution which would, in a certain sense, weaken both these decisions, and I think that the adoption of this or any similar resolution would somewhat weaken both the decision of the First Committee, which appears to be very clear and definite, and the decision of the General Assembly, which is likewise entirely clear and quite definite.

I will conclude with what I have said at the beginning, namely, that during the examination of the statement received from the Arab Higher Committee, there was no disagreement on the question of whether its representatives were to be invited to attend or not. This decision was adopted unanimously, and the question should therefore be considered as having been dealt with. I am somewhat surprised that this question should have been raised at today's meeting of the First Committee, and now at the General Assembly.

Mr. ARCE (Argentina) {translated from Spanish): I thought that this decision would be adopted unanimously. I now see that that is not going to be the case, and consequently I feel obliged to support strongly the proposal made by my colleague the representative of Cuba, thus confirming our entire confidence in the President of the Assembly.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ FABREGAT (Uruguay) (translated from Spanish): We all voted in the Committee for this Arab organization to be invited to express its views on the problem under discussion.

We now have a draft resolution (document A/306), to the effect that the Assembly recognizes that the Committee, on that occasion, correctly interpreted the Assembly's intentions. But was there ever any doubt about that? Was there any doubt that the Committee acted rightly or that its discussions were skilfully conducted by the President, or that when the First Committee unanimously decided to invite this Arab institution, it was correctly carrying out the instructions contained in the General Assembly's resolution?

It seems to me that the first resolution, about which there was never any doubt, might be somewhat weakened by such a procedure. I think that when we approved the invitation to the Arab organization here we did so in correct recognition of the right of all qualified parties to be heard in this matter.

As the representative of Argentina had said, there does not now appear to be unanimity for this resolution such as there was> for the invitation to the Arab organization. But even if this unanimity does not now exist—and we have been told that it does not—that lack of unanimity in no way means that those who vote against the resolution, or who abstain, have not the most complete confidence in the President of the Assembly.

Mr. GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ (Colombia) {translated from Spanish): With the permission of the Chair, I merely wish to ask the representative of Cuba on what he bases the assertion that this proposal is a vote of confidence in the President.

I do not believe that our confidence in the Chair was ever in doubt, and I think it would be a good thing for us to know, before voting, the reasons which the representative of Cuba has for raising a question that there is really no necessity to raise, since all of us, from the beginning, have had the utmost confidence in the Chair. This debate and this proposal have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which the President has conducted the meetings, or with the respect, consideration and admiration which he deserves from us.

The PRESIDENT: (translated from Spanish): I wish to inform the representative of Colombia that the statements made by representatives in casting their votes do not change the vote itself, which, as has been made quite clear, solely relates to the proposal under consideration by the assembly.

Mr. GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ (Colombia): [translated from Spanish): Thank you very much.

Mr. HENRIQUEZ URENA (Dominican Republic) (translated from Spanish): The delegation of the Dominican Republic wishes to confine itself to supporting the proposal made by the Cuban delegation that the matter be put to the vote without further delay, both because it will solve and clarify a question which has aroused certain doubts or susceptibilities, and because, while nobody has really placed in doubt the skill and mastery with which the President has directed the debates, it is a new tribute of appreciation and admiration which we are offering him.

Mr. ENTEZAM (Iran) (translated from French): I should like to propose a motion on a point of order.

In the last two weeks we have said everything that there was to say on this question. It is comprehensible that we should make long speeches when our opinions are divided, but I find it more difficult to understand why we should speak for two hours on a point upon which we are all agreed. I therefore move the closure of the debate.

The PRESIDENT: In accordance with our rules, after a proposal to close a debate has been made by one of the representatives, the Chair can allow only two speakers in favour of the i closure and two speakers against the closure of the debate,1/ after which the Chair must call for a vote.

I am very sorry that I have to follow this rule, because I was really delighted with the kindness of the representatives to me and to the Chair.

Mr. MALIK (Lebanon): I should like to ask a question which may be interpreted to mean that I am either for or against the closure of the debate, depending upon how the answer is given. My point is that this document A/306 has no title at all. I do not know whether we are considering a draft resolution here or not. If we pass this item, will it go down in the official records of the General Assembly as a resolution? That is the question I wish to put to the Chair.

The PRESIDENT: The explanation I have to give is a very simple one. At present it is a proposal, and if it is adopted, it will become a resolution.

I call upon the representative of Venezuela to speak either in favour of or against the closure of the debate.

Mr. STOLK (Venezuela): It is difficult for me to state whether I am for or against the closure of the debate.

The PRESIDENT : I can allow you to speak on nothing else. I have only the right to hear two speakers in favour of the closure and two speakers against the closure of the debate. That is our rule. I should be delighted to allow you all to continue speaking in the way you were speaking before the motion to close the debate was made.

Mr. STOLLK (Venezuela): If it is possible, I should like our President to give his respected opinion before this General Assembly on the point raised by the Venezuelan delegation.

The PRESIDENT: The request of the representative of Venezuela is absolutely correct. I was waiting for the other representatives to finish speaking before replying to his question.

He has the right to call on the Chair for this reply. It seems to him that the Assembly authorized the First Committee to consider the communications and now we are again considering the same problem. We have before us a resolution backing with all our moral power the work done by the First Committee.

I can now hear only those representatives who wish to speak on the closure of the debate.

Mr. BLANCO(Cuba) (translated from Spanish) : I wish to speak in favour of the closure of the debate. At the same time, I desire to answer the representative of Colombia by saying that the Cuban delegation made that suggestion, because the proposal was introduced by the Chair and the Chair requested the backing of the Assembly. We therefore considered the debate unnecessary, and by putting the proposal to a vote, that we could pay a tribute of confidence to our President.

The PRESIDENT: I have heard one speech in favour of the closure of the debate.

Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): Mr. President, you said that you could allow two speakers to speak in favour of the proposal for the closing of the debate, and two against. It is quite possible that there are less than four speakers on your list. If this is the case, it might be more advantageous to give them an opportunity to state their views. You may have only one or two speakers, in which case we should finish sooner than if we were to allow our persons to speak, two for and two against the proposal.

The PRESIDENT: I must confess to the Soviet representative that I should be pleased to allow four to speak, if they were to speak as favourably as the others did before. However, I will merely hear those who ask to speak, in accordance with the rules.

Colonel HODGSON (Australia): Under rule 71 any number may speak in favour of closure, but only two may speak against it.

The PRESIDENT: Rule 71 states: "A representative may at any time move the closure of the debate whether or not any other representative has signified his wish to speak. If application is made for permission to speak against the closure it may be accorded to not more than two speakers."

Colonel HODGSON (Australia): My point is that it does not say how many may speak in favour of it. Twenty or more may speak in favour of it, because there is no limitation. Only two may speak against it.

The PRESIDENT: That is the rule as I have read it. The liberal interpretation of this rule is that if only two may speak against closure, there is no reason to allow more than two to speak in favour of closure.

Mr. GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ (Colombia) (translated from Spanish): I am in favour of the closure of the debate, but before we vote I merely wish to explain the reason for my abstention.

I am going to abstain from voting so as to be consistent with the considerations I put forward in the First Committee this morning. This abstention does not in any way mean that I have not the most complete confidence in the President, nor that I do not greatly desire that the Arabs of Palestine be heard on a footing of equality with the Jews of Palestine, as we insisted throughout the whole discussion.

Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): Mr. President, may I ask, if it is not a secret, how many speakers you have on your list?

The PRESIDENT: I have two speakers, the representatives of Yugoslavia and Costa Rica.

Mr. GROMYKO (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) (translated from Russian): Perhaps no time will be wasted. If there are really no

strong and convincing objections, let us give the speakers a few minutes in which to express their views. This will take less time.

The PRESIDENT: I told the Assembly that I should be very pleased to hear all the speakers, because they were speaking so kindly. However, when the representative of Iran invoked rule 71, the Chair was, and is, forced to follow that rule. I cannot change my decision, even if that decision is against my own desires.

We will now vote on the proposal which is before us (document A/306).

A vote was taken by a show of hands.

The PRESIDENT: The proposal is adopted by a vote of thirty-nine in favour, one against, and eleven abstentions.

Mr. STOLK (Venezuela) (translated from Spanish): I believe that the vote we have taken is null and void, because we should first have voted on the question whether or not the Assembly agreed to the closure. The Chair heard speakers in favour of the closure and others against it, but a vote was not taken on the point.

The PRESIDENT: I call your attention to rule 72, which states: "The President shall take the sense of the General Assembly on a motion for closure. If the General Assembly is in favour of the closure, the President shall declare the closure of the debate." That is my reply to you.

I will adjourn the meeting of the General Assembly and call upon the Chairman of the First Committee to continue his work.


1/ Rule 71 of the provisional rules of procedure of the General Assembly.

The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.

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