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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The history of the membership controversy in the United Nations Simpson, Robert Vernon


The aim of this thesis is to show that, although the various phases of the membership controversy are fundamentally a part of the overall Soviet -Western crisis, the immediate reason for their development stems not only from the dominant position that the United States occupies internationally but as well from the extreme overbalance of representation in the United Nations in favour of the Americas. This situation, not the free use of the veto by the Soviet Union, is mainly responsible for the stalemate in the admission of new members. The Soviet Union has felt compelled to use its veto lavishly in an effort to protect and strengthen its minority role in the United Nations. It is because the USSR regards the veto in this light that any suggestion to abolish it as far as admission of new members is concerned is completely impractical. The issue would not be of primary import if the Western States had used their preponderant voting power responsibly and the practice of bloc voting had not become such a prominent feature of the United Nations. But these developments which are partially attributable to the existing state of international tension have made the membership composition of the United Nations a matter of great concern, especially to the USSR. In these circumstances it is not surprising that Article 4 has received little more than lip service. Both the Soviet and Western blocs have set up a standard of admission for their own candidates which differs substantially from that applied to candidates of the other. This has left each side open to charges of discrimination and neither has been slow in pointing out the iniquities of the other's obstinacy. In the eyes of the Secretary General of the United Nations, who is well qualified to judge, all the disappointed applicants would qualify if the standard set by Article 4 was administered reasonably. In harmony with this view the USSR has offered what seems to be the only fair compromise, that it will vote for the Western candidates if the Western states will vote for the Soviet candidates. The stalemate is perpetuated because the Western bloc unwisely chooses to regard this offer to compromise as a 'horse trade' or 'blackmail.' A new twist to the membership controversy has been supplied by the fact that there are two claimants to the seat held in the name of China. This is not a question of admitting a new state but merely one of representation. The difficulty in the case of China is that the de facto government, which should logically occupy the seat, is in conflict with: the military forces of the United Nations, which in the view of the majority disqualifies that government from taking its rightful place. This representation question must eventually be resolved in favour of the Central People's Government or the United Nations will place itself in the position of denying representation to the 450 million people of China, the majority of whom seem to support the Peking Government.

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