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Assembly might adopt Charter amendments at any time by a twothirds vote, subject to ratification by all the members having permanent representation on the Security Council and by a majority of the Organization's other members.
Those who seek to develop procedures for the peaceful settlement of international disputes always confront the hard task of striking a balance between the necessity of assuring stability and security on the one hand and of providing room for growth and adaptation on the other. This difficulty was present at San Francisco. If the possibility of Charter amendment was to be one method of satisfying those who feared lest the status quo be permanently frozen, how make sure that the rights and duties of Members would not, in the process of amendment, be brought into a different balance from that which Members had originally accepted? This was of serious concern to the powers which were preparing to undertake primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security, even, if need be, by force of arms. It was also of concern to all states whose constitutions require that amendments to any treaty must secure parliamentary ratification. In a third category of interested states were those which feared that amendments might change the original relationship set up among the great powers, or between them and the smaller powers, and that such a change might adversely affect their own interests.
Before the United States Delegation went to San Francisco the question arose as to whether an opportunity for piecemeal amendment of the Charter would be enough. Might not a possibility for the re-examination of the whole Charter in the light of experience be advisable? It was urged from several quarters (notably by Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada on March 20, 1945) that the difficulty of shaping a world organization under the abnormal conditions of wartime would warrant taking a look at the structure as a whole at some future date. The United States Delegation was averse to any proposal which might make the Organization seem transitional or provisional; but it did recognize the desirability of providing for the possibility of a more general review than could conveniently be carried out by the method of separate amendments introduced in regular Assembly meetings from time to time.
The United States Delegation continued to study the problem after its arrival in San Francisco, and on April 25 agreed upon the text of a paragraph which might be inserted in Chapter XI. This new article provided that a general conference might be called to review the Charter whenever three-quarters of the Assembly so requested and when the Security Council, acting by a procedural vote, concurred; and, further, that any Charter amendments which such a general conference might recommend by a two-thirds vote would become effective after ratification in accordance with the same procedure to be followed in the case of amendments issuing from ordinary Assembly meetings.
This proposal was presented by the United States Delegation at a meeting of the Sponsoring Powers held on May 3. After a thorough discussion, in which Messrs. Stettinius, Eden, Molotov and Soong all participated, the American text was accepted without change, and in due course was jointly recommended to the Conference as one of the suggested Sponsoring Powers amendments.
VIEWS OF THE OTHER NATIONS ON THE GENERAL CONFERENCE
Very early in the discussions of the technical committee considering the amending process several delegations showed that they wished to go even further than had been proposed by the United States Delegation. They desired to make the calling of the general conference easier and they wished to have some date for it indicated. They put forward, in particular, three suggestions: 1) the three-fourths vote required in the Assembly to call such a conference might be changed to two-thirds; 2) a bracket of dates might be set, and the general conference might be made mandatory at any time within the period indicated; 3) a specific date for the conference might be fixed.
The first proposal was supported almost unanimously by the smaller nations. The second proposal was incorporated in motions put forward by the Brazilian and Canadian delegates to the effect that the general conference must be held within the period from five to ten years following the establishment of the Organization. Other delegates advanced the more extreme demand that the date be fixed now, preferably for the fifth or seventh year.
The United States Delegation was prepared to accept the first suggestion if the other four great powers were agreeable. It involved a slight alteration in the Dumbarton Oaks plan beyond what they had agreed to accept at the start of the San Francisco Conference; but the further liberalization of the vote by which a general conference might be called seemed unobjectionable, indeed proper and advisable. It did, however, oppose both the other proposals, and for weighty reasons. It was reluctant to introduce an added factor of uncertainty into the postwar period, as would be the case of it were known that the whole Charter was bound to come up for general revision at a fixed date, whether or not the majority of Members at that time so desired; and it feared that any date chosen in advance might fall in some period of political or economic crisis when an undertaking of such scope and importance would be inadvisable. The Soviet Delegation concurred in this view strongly, as did the three other great powers.
The five delegations thus found themselves in agreement against mentioning any specific date or bracket of dates in the Charter. But as the discussion in the technical Committee and its Subcommittee proceeded they were not in agreement as to how to deal with the amendment which the Canadian delegate was pressing there strongly, with the backing of several other delegations. Eventually, however, after consulting together, the Sponsoring Powers and France proposed that the vote necessary to call a general conference be changed from three-quarters to two-thirds of the members of the Assembly (with concurrence of any seven members of the Security Council); and that the following sentence, which originated in the United States Delegation, be added to the appropriate paragraph of the Sponsoring Powers proposal:
“If such a general conference has not been held before the tenth annual meeting of the Assembly following the entry into force of the Charter, the proposal to call such a general conference shall be placed on the agenda of that meeting of the
Assembly. Of these two concessions to the views of the small powers, the first was at once accepted unanimously. The second, which was
warmly welcomed by many delegations as evidence of a helpful spirit of conciliation, was left for consideration after decisions had been reached on the knotty problem of the veto. Before this could be tackled, however, the Committee had to settle how amendments were to be adopted and ratified. Closely connected with all these matters in the minds of many delegates, furthermore, was the question of possible withdrawal from the Organization.
AMENDMENTS AND THE VETO
Throughout the Conference the necessity for the five great powers to act by unanimity in the Security Council had been debated at length. "The subject was settled, as far as ordinary proceedings of the Organization were concerned, in the Committee dealing with the powers and procedure of the Security Council. But the delegates of nations which were dissatisfied with the decision in that Committee hoped that even though the central fight against the veto had been lost, they might succeed in getting the veto removed in the case of amendments issuing from a general revisionary conference.
It was of even greater interest to certain delegations, on the other hand, to make sure that before amendments entered into force they would have to receive ratification by a larger number of members than had been fixed in the original text. These delegations expressed their willingness to accept the veto of the great powers over amendments provided this majority were increased. Accordingly, the following text was offered by the Belgian delegate as regards amendments which might issue from a general revisionary conference, and was supported by the Sponsoring Powers:
“Any alterations of the Charter recommended by a two-thirds vote of the Conference shall take effect when ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the members of the Organization, including all the permanent mem
bers of the Security Council.” Although this proposal met objection from those who wished to make the whole amendment procedure easier, as well as from those who were strongly opposed to the right of veto by the permanent members of the Security Council, it was found to be agreeable to the necessary two-thirds majority of the members of the Committee, and was adopted with only stylistic changes. The procedure indicated was also adopted as regards amendments issuing from ordinary meetings of the General Assembly. (Articles 108 and 109.)
At this point the United States Delegation offered the following amendment, in lieu of its earlier proposal, to meet the strong desire of many delegations regarding the calling of a revisionary conference:
"If such a general conference has not been held before the tenth annual meeting of the Assembly following the entry into force of the Charter, the proposal to call such a general conference shall be placed on the agenda of that meeting of the Assembly, and the conference shall be held if so decided by a simple majority of the Assembly and by any seven members of the Security
Council.” It will be noted that this proposal did not make a revisionary conference mandatory at any fixed date. It did, however, ensure that, if the conference had not been held earlier, the determination as to whether it should be held would be made by an extremely democratic procedure in the tenth year of the Organization's life; and, further, that the Assembly would at that time, if it saw fit, fix the exact date. The proposal met with wide acclaim. The Soviet Delegation, however, had stated in advance to the United States Delegation that it did not wish to go so far in the direction of providing for a special revisionary conference, and agreement had been reached in advance that each of the five great powers should proceed in the matter as it thought best. The proposal of the United States Delegation was adopted and became, with minor stylistic changes, the third paragraph of Article 109.
AMENDMENTS AND WITHDRAWAL
The United States Delegation's attitude on the subject of possible withdrawal from the Organization has been described in the part of this report dealing with membership. Its general attitude had to be reviewed, however, in connection with the possibility that Members might find certain amendments unacceptable. The question, here as in the other case, was whether or not the Charter should contain an express provision on the subject. Some delegations preferred that it should. The view of the United States Delegation was that the general statement of the implicit right of withdrawal in case of the general frustration of the Charter could properly be amplified to take care of cases in which Members were asked to accept amendments to which they had serious objection or when amendments which they considered vital failed of ratification. This view prevailed, and the text of the Charter itself makes no reference to withdrawal.
The final discussions of these complicated matters took place in an atmosphere of mutual conciliation. Many delegates rose to state their opinion that the spirit of harmony which prevailed in the Committee, and afterwards extended to the sessions of the Commission where the actions of the Committee were duly ratified, was due in large part to the efforts of the United States Delegation to find a generally satisfactory solution of the problem of how and when to call a revisionary conference. The procedure adopted met the desires of the large number of delegations which wanted some assurance that there would be an opportunity to review the work done at San Francisco in the light of experience, and that this opportunity should not be delayed indefinitely in case a majority of the member nations felt that the moment was ripe.
RATIFICATION AND SIGNATURE
(Chapter XIX) The final chapter of the Charter contains technical provisions concerning the ratification of the Charter and the time at which it comes into force. In its two articles there are a few points which warrant mention in this Report. No provisions on these points were drawn up at Dumbarton Oaks, since the Proposals framed there were not in final treaty form.
Paragraph 1 of Article 110 contains a provision analogous to that included in Article 108 dealing with amendments, namely, that ratification shall be effected in accordance with the constitutional processes of the signatory states. This is a self-explanatory but important specification.
Paragraph 2 of Article 110, in accordance with the usual diplomatic procedure, names the Government of the United States as the depositary of the ratifications. The United States is obligated to notify all the signatory States of each deposit as well as the Secretary-General when he has been elected. It was suggested
during the debates that the ratifications might be deposited with the Preparatory Commission until the Secretary-General was elected and thereafter with him, but the Conference adopted the other procedure.
Paragraph 3 of Article 110 determines when the Charter shall come into force. The provision follows closely an amendment to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals which was introduced jointly by the Sponsoring Powers at San Francisco. In the case of multipartite treaties involving mutual rights and obligations, it is of great importance to determine which of the signatories and how many of them must give their approval before the treaty becomes binding. Otherwise, a small number of the signatories might find themselves bound by obligations which were drafted in the expectation that there would be many partners in the enterprise and which would be impossible of fulfillment in the absence of certain of the states which were also signatories to the treaty.
In the case of the Charter this difficulty would obviously arise unless a provision were inserted to guard against it. The whole discussion of the Charter in this Report reveals that the functioning of the United Nations as an organization depends upon the participation and cooperation of the Five Powers which will have permanent seats in the Security Council and upon the cooperation with them of other states. Accordingly, Article 110 provides that the ratifications of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, and France, and of a majority of the other signatory states, must be deposited before the Charter takes effect. The Government of the United States is required to draw up a protocol or record of the fact that the required number of ratifications have been deposited and to communicate copies of the protocol to all the signatory states.
Article 111 contains the novel provision that the five texts of the Charter are equally authentic-Chinese, French, Russian, English, and Spanish. It has been quite usual to provide that texts in two different languages should be equally authentic, and many interAmerica treaties have been drawn up in the four languages of the Western Hemisphere-English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The Charter is the first such document in five different tongues. The fact that two of the languages, Russian and Chinese are not commonly understood in many of the other countries represented at San Francisco, presented a difficult mechanical problem of translation, but this was overcome by an elaborate organization in the Secretariat and by the establishment of "language panels" on which representatives of various governments were included. The United States was represented by a competent linguist on each one of these panels. Prob