CANADA AT SAN FRANCISO
Maclean’s Ottawa Editor
TODAY at San Francisco, if plans of the past three months have held firm, 47 nations are setting to work on a document that 43 of them don’t much like—the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals; four Great Powers’ blueprint for a new world organization to be called The United Nations.
Dumbarton Oaks is not a satisfying charter. Even the Great Powers, who drafted it, admit that it doesn’t do all that each of them could wish. Of the secondary and small powers, not one has voiced unqualified approval. About 15 have drafted criticisms, and several of these have been published already.
France, though she’s slated to be a Great Power as soon as she gets back on her feet, has about as many changes to suggest as anybody —she’s the only power that has made a list of specific amendments with chapter and verse, and has submitted tbe text of the amendments to her own Assembly in advance. The Netherlands have handed President Roosevelt a critique of Dumbarton Oaks that runs to 17 single-spaced pages. Belgium and Norway have made similar representations. Mexico has published a brief,, which nine other Latin American countries endorse, proposing 28 changes. As for the London Poles, who will play the Ghost of Banquo at the San Francisco feast, they’ve issued a list of 22 amendments and reservations.
Where does Canada stand? Do we, alone of the secondary powers, swallow Dumbarton Oaks whole? Or have we ideas of our own?
Canada hasn’t made much noise about her reaction to Dumbarton Oaks, for an excellent reason. Canada thinks the principle of international organization is more important than its details. We’d almost (though not quite) go so far as to say that any organization right now is better than none. Any mechanism that brings the nations together and keeps them talking, negotiating, discussing, however imperfect that mechanism may be, is still something gained over the sole alternative, international anarchy.
So in the resolution of support for our delegates, which got all but unanimous approval in Parliament, the governing point is the second: Recognition that an effective
world organization is vitally important to Canada and all mankind, and declaration that it’s in Canada’s interest to join such an organization.
Because we didn’t want to appear to be laying any ultimatum, Canada has published no list of particular amendments. We’re not going to San Francisco with a chip on our shoulder. To make The United Nations a peacetime going concern we’re ready to co-operate and to compromise up to the limit of what is politically feasible.
But there are a number of things we don’t like about Dumbarton Oaks, a number of changes we’d like to see. In particular there are three:
1. We want The United Nations Charter to recognize the difference between secondary powers like ourselves, powers that can make a substantial contribution, and those tiny powerless countries that are “sovereign states” by courtesy only.
2. We want it made perfectly clear that no nation will have to take any drastic action without having been fully consulted. This is our most important point, the one our delegates may well deem indispensable.
3. The greatest security problem of the immediate future, the problem of policing and governing the defeated Axis, won’t be handled by the new organization at all. It’s to be handled by Britain, Russia, the United States and probably France, who will set up some kind of Allied authority for the job, a sort of semipermanent AMG. Canada wants a clear definition of the relationship between this Allied authority and the Security Council of the United Nations. Maybe this sounds like an academic point, but it has a special practical importance for Canada, as will appear.
None of these things is established by the Dumbarton Oaks proposals as they stand. (Incidentally, this article may be easier to follow if you have a copy of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals at hand. Wartime Information Board has published them as a pamphlet which sells for 10 cents.)
SO FAR, most of the attention in Parliament and out of it has been focused on Suggestion No. 1—the ranking of “middle” powers. Dumbarton Oaks gives special rights to five Great Powers: the United States, Soviet
Russia, the United Kingdom, China and, “in due course,” France. These five have permanent seats on the Security Council, special voting privileges including veto power, and so on. But all other nations are simply lumped together as “the rest.” That is, strong secondary powers like The Netherlands, Brazil or ourselves—powers that could make and would be expected to make a substantial contribution to maintain a world organization—we’re given the same status as little countries that have no power at all.
In this argument about status, the main point is membership on the Security Council. All members of the organization must obligate themselves (Chapter VI, B, 4) “to accept the decisions of the Security Council and to carry them out in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.” Obviously this is a serious undertaking for a country which might not be on the Security Council at the time, yet which might be called upon for a substantial contribution.
What the middle-sized nations want is some assurance that they’d be on the Security Council, if not permanently, at least offener than the little fellows. One of the French amendments is designed to provide this assurance. The French would amend Chapter VI Section A, composition of the Security Council, by adding this stipulation:
“At least three of the (six) nonpermanent members should be chosen from among those states that will have undertaken, and will have the means, to participate in an appreciable degree —to be determined by the Council— in the active defense of international order.”
In other words, the French would fix an “entrance fee” of men or munitions or money, or all three, to half of the Council’s nonpermanent seats.
Canada will probably support this French amendment when, or if, it comes to a vote. If we could have things exactly our own way we’d go even farther—we’d prefer to see four, not three, of the six
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What will Canada say at this meeting to shape the security of the post-war world? Here is a timely analysis of this country's point of view
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nonpermanent seats reserved for secondary powers. But the French idea is fairly close to our own, and we’d probably be glad to settle for it if the other nations, especially the Great Powers, are willing to accept it.
But we’re not particular about method, so long as the job is done somehow. All we want is to make sure that the countries which will carry the load will have proportionate voice that’s the logic on which the Great Powers have dealt themselves such a tremendous share of power, and we think it ought to be carried one step farther. As Prime Minister King said in his speech, March 20, the San Francisco conference should “accept, as a guiding principle that power and responsibility should, as far as possible, be made to coincide.”
What we want to avoid, and what would happen under the Dumbarton Oaks plan as it stands, would be a situation in which electioneering blocs like the Latin-American steam roller could always manage to elect their own “slate.” That’s what happened at the Chicago air conference last fall. The Latin Americans made a deal with a handful of Middle Eastern states until they had a total voting phalanx of about 25. Then they drew up a slate to please themselves, went to every nation that was on it and said: “This is our slate and we’ve put you on it. But if you don’t vote with us we’ll take you off.” The strategy worked to perfection—with the absurd result that little El Salvador was elected as one nation with a “particular interest” in aviation, while such an important air power as India was left off. This was corrected later, but only because Cuba was decent enough to resign after Norway had offered to do so. El Salvador is still on.
This is just an example of what can happen if the “sovereign equality” of states isn’t made to carry some kind of obligation. And it would most certainly reduce the Security Council, at least so far as its nonpermanent members are concerned, to a farce.
This matter of status as a “middle” power is important to Canada, and we shall certainly do our best at San Francisco to have it cleared up. But it’s not nearly as important as the point embodied in our Suggestion No. 2, the suggestion that nobody should be required to take drastic action without full consultation.
Under the Dumbarton Oaks plan the Security Council may consult states not members of the Council whom it deems specially interested in any matter (Chapter VI, D, 4) but it is not obliged to do so unless the nonmember is an actual party to the dispute (VI, D, 5). It is conceivable, at least theoretically, that states not parties to a dispute might be called upon to move troops, or send planes, or impose an economic embargo on some other state, without having been a party to the decision.
In practice, of course, this would be unlikely—nobody would send orders by telephone or cable to a sovereign state in a matter so important. But Mr. King suggested that “the probable practice might well be made the formal rule.”
There are several ways this could be done. One of them was suggested in Parliament by Paul Martin, M.P. for Essex East, in a speech which showed very intimate acquaintance with the Government’s intentions. Mr. Martin suggested that the Security Council might grant temporary membership, with full voting rights, to states that appeared likely to be directly involved in a given international crisis, or from whom direct contributions might be required.
This temporary membership would be tine from the middle powers’ point of view, but it’s doubtful that the Great Powers would consent to it. They are already outnumbered, despite their special rights, in the voting lineup of the Security Councilunanimous decision by the big fellows still needs at least two nonpermanent votes to make it carry. Russia was somewhat reluctant to go even this far. According to report, the delegates who arrived at Dumbarton Oaks from Moscow brought plans for a sevenpower Council, where only two little fellows would be allowed to query the decisions of the Big Five.
They’ve allowed the membership to go up to 11, and the margin for decision to go to seven members instead of a bare majority. But it’s unlikely they’d go farther. Even the western powers might not want a fluctuating Council on whose alignments they could never rely. Britain, in a White Paper on Dumbarton Oaks, says quite flatly: “No provision is proposed for increasing the size of the Security Council.”
Another way to guarantee full consultation, one which Paul Martin suggested but didn’t fully develop in his speech, would be this:
First, make decisions of the Security Council binding in the first instance only on its own members.
Second, refer all such decisions back to the General Assembly. If the Assembly ratified the decision by a two-thirds majority it would then become binding upon all the United Nations.
To this plan the most serious objection is that it would then be too great an advantage not to be a member of the Security Council. A state which was a member of the Security Council might vote against a given decision yet be bound to enforce it. A state of the same size and strength, not a Council member, would escape this obligation until after the Assembly had ratified the decLsion.
Advocates of the scheme admit the force of this objection, but they say that this is simply the chance we have to take. It’s better, they say, than trying to oblige everyone, to abide by decisions they had no part in making something which, in cold fact, no people would undertake to do. Almost certainly, Canada would not.
Canadian objections to such a commitment were put very forcefully by W. A. Tucker, M.P. for Rosthern, Sask., in the House debate. Mr. Tucker, a veteran of 1914-18 who has also served in the present war, said:
“To suggest that the Canadian people or any other people can be persuaded to place their young men at the disposal of an organization on which they have no representation whatever, to be sent anywhere in the world where the Security Council wants them to fight, is taking an unrealistic attitude. If we have no say in the decision of the Security Council, we are not going to have our armed forces sent abroad to fight at the behest of people over whom we have no control and who do not represent us in any way whatsoever.”
And Mr. Tucker went on to recommend that “before any nation not represented on the Council is to be expected to send its armed forces to fight in a cause which the Security Council has espoused, there should be a twothirds vote of the General Assembly in which every nation is represented.”
This idea that the Security Council’s decisions should bind only its members, so far as active contribution is concerned, is not as drastic a limitation as it seems. Of the 47 United Nations the actual fighting has been done by no
more than a dozen outside the Big Five. And this dozen includes Poland; it includes Czechoslovakia, which fell captive even before the war began; it includes Brazil, whose physical contribution has amounted to one battalion.
If Security Council members and nobody else were committed to positive action, there’d be less attraction in Council membership for the prestigeconscious small fry. Indirectly, perhaps, the objectives of our Suggestion No. 1 would be achieved, and nonpermanent Council seats would be held only by powers capable of doing something about it.
In this case—or indeed in any case— the Security Council at any given moment would probably include at least 95% of the world’s effective military strength. The five Great Powers alone, the permanent members, probably add up to 90% of it. So there is no compelling practical need for physical support from the other unconsulted 5% of the world’s strength. Provided they’ll co-operate passively —allow transit facilities, for example, and refuse aid to the guilty party or parties against whom action is being taken—the Security Council ought to be able to fight its own battles, without putting on nonmembers an obligation which many of them will certainly regard as an outrage.
To Canada, for one, this point is vital. In the debate on the San Francisco resolution our Parliament achieved a striking unanimity. The five members who voted against it are a nondescript handful whose political background is a patchwork. Men who have been divided, and bitterly divided, on the issues of the present war were united on this resolution—one of the most effective speeches in its favor was delivered by Maxime Raymond, leader of Le Bloc Populaire, and one of the first to vote for it was Hon. P. J. A. Cardin, who bolted the Cabinet over Bill 80.
But the real test is still ahead. Dumbarton Oaks has been endorsed only as “a satisfactory basis for a general discussion,” and our delegates are enjoined to go on from there to fashion an “acceptable” charter. And that charter will have to be approved by Parliament—a new Parliament, to be elected this summer— before it goes into effect so far as Canada is concerned.
No charter would be “acceptable” to such a Parliament if it carried, even theoretically, an obligation to send troops at the order of a body on which we had no voice. It might win a bare majority—though even this would be doubtful—but it certainly would be strongly opposed. And one of the lessons of two world wars has been that in matters of this kind a mere majority is not enough. You need something approaching unanimity.
It would be a tragic piece of irony if the Charter were to fail in Canada because of uncertainty on this point. For the fact is that the whole question of raising and sending forces is purely academic at the moment, and likely to remain so for years.
What of Axis Control?
It’s in the hope of making this point clear that Canada is putting forward our Suggestion No. 3—the suggestion, in the Prime Minister’s words, that we should have “a clear definition of the relations between the Security Council and any inter-Allied authority which may be set up to supervise any longterm measures of control of the enemy countries.”
There’s some reason to believe that any such “clear definition” would make two things plain:
First, that the Security Council
would have nothing to do with holding down the Axis. Certainly for a few years, perhaps for longer, this will be the self-appointed task of the victorious Great Powers.
Second, that this will mean the temporary removal of the major security problem of the immediate future. After all, international security, as a rule, is threatened not by little powers but by Great Powers. The only Great Powers outside the Security Council will be Germany and Japan, and the Big Three will see to it that these shall be Great Powers no longer.
Of course the Big Three or Big Five may fall out, may quarrel among themselves. As this is written trouble has just broken out over the question of inviting Poland—Britain had been quite willing not to invite the London Poles, but the understanding at Yalta apparently was that the Lublin (proSoviet) Committee wouldn’t be invited either. A new, broader, all-party government was to be formed; if it were formed in time it would send delegates to San Francisco. If not, it was generally supposed, Poland would simply stay home.
Out of the blue, Moscow demanded an invitation for her Lublin Committee -—admittedly functioning as the Provisional Government of Poland now, but virtually a one-party regime in its effect if not in its nominal color. This demand posed a nasty diplomatic problem for the western powers, especially Britain, who had housed the constitutional descendant of the 1939 Polish Government all these years, and for whom any recognition of Lublin would be a major concession.
It’s not clear yet what the outcome of this dispute will be. And if this one is settled and The United Nations set up as a continuing alliance, there will be other disputes to follow—many of them. What can the new organization do about these?
If they’re really serious and irreconcilable, nothing. No organization, however wisely planned, could forcibly prevent one of the really Great Powers from attaining any end it was resolved to pursue, by force if necessary. The one basic condition for success of The United Nations is that the Big Five, or at least the Big Three, should continue to work together.
But they know this as well as anyone else does, and they all want peace desperately. They’ve hurdled a good many difficulties already without quarrelling; there’s a good reason to hope they’ll continue to do so. And so long as they do, and so long as they hold the Axis down, the security problem diminishes to a policing job.
Moreover the more successful The United Nations prove to be, the smaller the security problem will become. This is the reason for Canada’s heavy emphasis on a part of the new organization that has been almost ignored, the Economic and Social Council (Chapter IX).
We’re interested in the Economic and Social Council for a dozen reasons. As one of the biggest traders in the world, and one whose prosperity depends on international trade, we’ve a heavy stake in keeping that trade flowing free; the Economic and Social Council could be a big help in this. Then the more successful the Security Council is the less important its functions become; if The United Nations is a complete success, its Economic and Social Council will become its most important and most active arm.
Finally, the Economic and Social Council could be and should be a major factor in making the organization a success. Many of war’s causes are in the economic field. In measures to prevent economic warfare—mea-
sures like the Bretton Woods monetary agreement, the Food and Agriculture agreement, the Civil Aviation Authority^—we may well have the machinery for killing World War III in the egg.
Those three suggestions, plus the emphasis on economic and social machinery, are all the indications we have of amendments or modifications that Canada would be likely to propose on her own initiative. But many other things will be brought up by other nations, and Canada will have to take a stand one way or the other.
The Veto Right
Number One among probable causes for argument is the voting system which the Great Powers want for the Security Council. In the Dumbarton Oaks proposals as originally published this section (Chapter VI, C) is left out. The Big Four' couldn’t agree last fall —Russia insisted on the right to veto any decision, even in disputes to which she herself was a party. All Council decisions, by the original Russian formula, would have been made “by an affirmative vote of seven members, including the concurring votes of the permanent members.”
At Dumbarton Oaks the Russian delegates could not be budged from that position. But at Yalta Premier Stalin was persuaded to add this proviso:
“Provided that in decisions under Chapter VIII,Section A, and underthe second sentence of Paragraph I of Chapter VIII, Section C, a party to a dispute should abstain from voting.”
Both sections mentioned have to do with peaceful settlement of disputes. The effect of the new formula is that Great Powers cannot veto action looking to peaceful settlement of disputes in which they are involved. But they can still veto punitive action of any kind.
Canada doesn’t like this scheme at all. It seems only just to us that in The United Nations, as in the League (by Article 15 of the Covenant), a nation should be denied the right to sit
in judgment on its own case. Prime Minister King had nothing better to say about the Yalta voting formula than that “it would be unrealistic and unwise to reject this decision outright.” He said we should reserve judgment until the matter is talked out at San Francisco.
Actually, we know there’s little hope of getting any further concession on this point. We shall probably have to take the Yalta formula, and although we don’t like it we’re prepared to lump it. If it’s the best on which the Great Powers can agree, it will have to do.
Like the rest of the small powers, we were even less happy about the belated announcement that United States would ask for three votes in the Assembly, to balance Russia’s request for membership for two of her “autonomous” republics, and also to balance the “six votes” which (the Americans think) Britain will have because of membership of the Dominions.
This American claim was withdrawn five days after being made known, but the whole affair was very badly handled diplomatically. After keeping it a secret for a couple of months, its sponsors announced it to the press without even notifying other governments—the French Ambassador for one, read about it in the morning papers on Good Friday, and was exceedingly annoyed. It cast an odd light, too, on the propaganda about “sovereign equality” that had been pouring forth for weeks beforehand.
Canada was surprised like everybody else, and annoyed for a reason all our own. This talk about “six votes for Britain” was enough to make any Canadian tear his hair. For nearly 30 years we had been trying to explain to the world that a Canadian vote is a Canadian vote—no more British than it is American, though in serious matters we hope we’ll keep on agreeing with both. But when we do differ we vote according to our own view, not Britain’s or anybody else’s.
Aside from the various arguments about voting, another point that’s sure
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to come up is a demand for some declaration, in the Charter, for equity and moral right—something it totally lacks today. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Republican member of the U. S. delegation, has said:
“Except in its brief chapter on the world court, it (Dumbarton Oaks) does not once mention ‘justice’ as a guiding objective or rule of conduct. In my opinion no permanent peace is possible without a constant, conscious mandate to seek and to maintain justice as the basis of peace.”
This is more than one individual’s view. The Dutch proposals, to mention only one, voice profound concern over this question of international equity. Other nations have suggested that the Atlantic Charter should be incorporated, as a statement of principle, in the United Nations Charter. Some would include President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms as well, or a Declaration of the Rights of Man.
Canada is sympathetic with these proposals but somewhat cautious in supporting them. We don’t want to have, as one man put it, “too wide a gap between principles and actions.” We don’t want the United Nations pledged to anything they can’t or won’t do.
For instance, one of the French amendments would have The United Nations “watch over the respect of essential liberties for all, without distinction of race, language or religion.” Another French amendment would even permit The United Nations to interfere in a nation’s internal affairs if “manifest violation of essential liberties and the rights of man should itself constitute a menace calculated to compromise the peace.”
These are fine principles. Applied, as the French undoubtedly apply them, to Nazi persecution of Jews, they win everyone’s approval. But just what “essential liberties” do we mean? If the right to vote is an “essential liberty,” would the United Nations demand that it be conferred on people of Chinese and Japanese origin in British Columbia? Or on Negroes in a Georgia primary? Or on all the peoples of India, with the same full rights as any other British subject enjoys?
European small powers are likely to press for some firm guarantee and automatic defense of their “political independence and territorial integrity,” to quote their beloved Article 10 of the League Covenant. This, Canada will almost certainly oppose. We fought Article 10 at Paris and after; all our political parties fought it. We’re unlikely to favor a blanket commitment that was resisted alike by Sir Robert Borden and Ernest Lapointe. At present the Dumbarton Oaks plan deliberately omits any provision for “freezing” national frontiers.
But aside from all question of amending the Dumbarton Oaks plan, there’s a considerable job to do in just filling in
its gaps. Many important points are simply left open in the proposals as they stand. For instance:
How are we to conclude the “special agreements” by which armed forces for the Security Council are to be raised (VIII, B, 5)? This was a major question in the House debate; the Government couldn’t answer it because nobody knows the answer yet.
How are the Security Council’s forces to be commanded? Dumbarton Oaks provides for a Staff Committee (VIII, B, 9) but no field command.
The United Nations are to disavow all right to interfere in “situations or disputes which by international law are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of the state concerned” (VIII, A, 7). But who is to decide which matters are within, and which exceed, the domestic jurisdiction of states?
By refusing to “freeze” existing frontiers, Dumbarton Oaks tried to leave the way open for “peaceful change.” But how is “peaceful change” to be accomplished? No provision is made, no tribunal set up, no procedure suggested.
The whole great problem of dependent peoples, subject of Article 22 of the League Covenant, is never mentioned in Dumbarton Oaks.
On these and many other questions, some of them perhaps not even realized yet, Canada has given no indication of her views. She will take whatever stand she takes as circumstances appear to warrant and Canadian interests dictate.
All this time we’ve been talking about “Canada” doing this or that, “Canada” favoring or opposing a certain measure. Just whom, in this case, do we mean?
The Voices of Canada
Canada’s delegates to San Francisco will be drawn from all three major political parties and both major ethnic groups. But on the issues they will face at the conference, we can be fairly sure they’ll be all of one mind.
Head of the delegation, of course, will be Prime Minister King, chief architect of Canada’s foreign policy for the last 25 years, author and sponsor of the principle of “functional representation,” which we hope the Security Council may adopt. And as immediate lieutenant he will have Hon. Louis S. St. Laurent, Minister of Justice, not only as representative of French Canadians, but as one of the greatest living authorities on the Canadian Constitution.
Gordon Graydon, Leader of the Opposition, will represent the Progressive Conservative Party. As his Party would wish, Mr. Graydon will have a special eye out for the welfare of the British Commonwealth and the ties that bind it. But he personally doesn’t share the fears of some Conservatives that there’s a plot afoot to do the Empire down. He will keep in close touch with the other Commonwealth delegations, but for that matter so will all Canadian delegates. On the general principles of foreign policy generally and of Dumbarton Oaks in particular, neither Mr. Graydon nor his leader, John Bracken, takes serious issue with the present Government.
Personally, Mr. Graydon considers ! himself the representative of “the ¡ ordinary Joe” at San Francisco. He | has never taken any special interest | in foreign affairs, has no diplomatic j experience, hasn’t travelled much out| side Canada. But, he points out, ! neither have most Canadians. He intends to try to represent Mr. Average ] Man.
M. J. Coldwell, CCF leader, has always been a close student of foreign policy. He has long been an active member of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs and of the League | of Nations Society, both of which value him not only as a member but as a frequent speaker. English-born, he has made several trips to Britain since war began and one to the liberated Continent.
On domestic matters Mr. Coldwell has plenty of differences with the Government, but on the subject of international organization he has none at all. His speech in the House debate, which followed directly upon that of Mr. King and had been prepared before hearing it, covered almost precisely the same general ground as the Prime Minister’s had done. It even made two of the same suggestions. At home the Government regards Mr. Coldwell as its most dangerous opponent. At San Francisco it will accept him as an able and like-minded collaborator.
Mrs. Cora Casselman, M.P. for j Edmonton East, will represent the women of Canada. Mrs. Casselman is an able, intelligent woman, a hard 1 worker in committee and a fairly frequent and always heeded speaker in the House. She has no point of difference from the rest of the delegation, though she will perhaps have a slightly higher than average interest in those “humanitarian problems” which the organization is enjoined to study by Chapter IX, A, 1. As for the Senate representatives, they, too, are expected to share the views of the delegation as a whole.
No issue divides this all-party group.
It is setting out, in the closing days of a j second world war, with something of the feeling that Sir Robert Borden expressed at the end of the first one.
“It was a war not of armies but of j nations,” said Sir Robert, addressing Parliament in the great League of Nations debate of September, 1919. “And yet, if we mistake not, it was something more. If we cannot perceive in its genesis an inevitable clash between two strongly opposed and mutually destructive ideals, and in its issue the triumph of reasoned justice and ordered liberty; if, out of its limitless sacrifice, mankind may not gain redemption from such unendurable horrors in the future, where can we see one ray of hope to lighten the pathway that lies before the nations?”