United Nations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd February 1965.

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Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham 12:00 am, 23rd February 1965

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a statement on the United Nations.

Now that the General Assembly has adjourned I wish to assure the House that we, and the vast majority of nations, are determined to do our utmost to see that the United Nations shall emerge from this crisis stronger than before. To this end, the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly have been invited, as a matter of urgency, to undertake appropriate consultations and a decision has been taken to establish a peace-keeping committee. For this outcome, much credit is due to my noble Friend Lord Caradon.

The committee is required to undertake as soon as possible a comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, including ways of overcoming the present financial difficulties of the organisation. It is to submit a report to the General Assembly not later than 15th June. The Assembly has adjourned until 1st September unless it proves necessary to reconvene it earlier in the light of the committee's report. A single vote necessary to reach this situation, and postponing the Article 19 issue, was taken without prejudice to conflicting views.

This country intends to play a leading part in the peace-keeping committee and we intend to bring to it new ideas worked out in consultation with experts on United Nations' affairs. Further, as an earnest of our intention, we shall make the following offer of support to United Nations peace-keeping. If so requested, and subject to our national commitments, we will help to provide logistic backing for a United Nations force of up to six infantry battalions. This could include, for example, short-range aircraft, engineering and signal troops, and ambulance, ordnance and motor transport units. If it were desirable, suitable units of these categories would be earmarked for use as available.

Her Majesty's Government also hope to take a share in providing long-range aircraft for the transport of peacekeeping forces. The financing of this offer would depend on the arrangements prevailing at the time.

Great Powers are and should be closely concerned with United Nations problems. But they are not alone; the United Nations must develop as a result of discussions and agreement among all its members, great and small. Small nations have played a great part in the United Nations itself; and it is to their interest and that of the United Nations that they should continue to do so. With this in mind the 18th Session of the General Assembly passed resolutions expanding the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. This involves Charter amendments, which Her Majesty's Government intend to ratify.

It is one thing to keep the peace; another to settle the problems which threaten peace. A number of experts are considering the process of settling disputes by conciliation, mediation, arbitration and other methods. After examining their recommendations we shall expect to make positive suggestions.

The Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and many other organs of the United Nations can continue their work despite the Assembly's adjournment. Disarmament negotiations can continue; the United Nations Trade and Development Board can go to work; so can the Human Rights Commission, in which Her Majesty's Government have a keen and continuing interest. We shall continue to work in all these fields. We have announced our increased contribution to technical assistance and the Special Fund.

Great difficulties remain. But we are determined that solutions must be found; the United Nations must be enabled to fulfil its task of keeping the peace and improving the conditions of human life.