"THE UNITED NATIONS TODAY"
An Address by H.E. GENERAL CARLOS P. ROMULO Philippine Ambassador to the United States, and Permanent Philippine Delegate to the United Nations
Joint meeting with United Nations Association in Canada (Toronto Branch)
Thursday, October 23rd, 1952
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. John W. Griffin.
INTRODUCTION BY the President, United Nations Association in Canada (Toronto Branch), Mr. W. G. C. Howland.
MR. HOWLAND: Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Seven years ago tomorrow, the United Nations came into being. Under its charter the peoples of 60 nations, through their respective governments, have resolved to bend their united efforts to the end that all nations, large and small, may live together in peace and without fear.
After more than two years of bitter warfare in Korea, and when the hopes of a speedy armistice have faded in the distance, let us not forget that it was in furtherance of this fundamental purpose, and in the face of outright and unprovoked aggression that the peoples of the United Nations acted in Korea. At the entrance to the United Nations Cemetery in far-off Pusan there fly the flags of 16 nations, including Canada, the members of whose armed services have given their lives in the cause of the United Nations, and 40 nations in all have contributed economic and financial support. There is much more involved in this war than the fate of Korea alone. The ability of the United Nations to take effective action in the face of aggression has been directly challenged for the first time. Unless we and the other peoples of the world are prepared to give it sufficient collective support, both directly and through regional pacts, to enable it to uphold the United Nations Charter, how can we expect that the 300 million people of the Pacific, who, like the Filipinos, are our friends and our neighbours, will remain free; how can we expect that our great Commonwealth will survive, and that a Third World War will be averted?
Whilst collective security is essential, the United Nations during the seven years of its existence has also been deeply conscious of the fact that the economic and social advancement of the peoples of underdeveloped countries is almost equally vital to a lasting peace. To the two-thirds of the world who live in such areas, where the expectation of life is only 30 years, the United Nations through its specialized agencies and through its programme of technical assistance has meant food, clothing, the prevention of disease and the hope of a better standard of living. Through UNICEF alone, over 6,000,000 children have been fed and clothed and some 14,000,000 have been vaccinated against tuberculosis. To over a million refugees the United Nations has meant repatriation or a home in a new land. To all men everywhere the United Nations through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands for the fundamental dignity and equal rights of every individual regardless of race, creed, nationality or political considerations.
Whilst United Nations week is being celebrated throughout the world this week under the leadership of the various United Nations Associations, for us in Canada it has a particular significance inasmuch as the General Assembly of the United Nations has chosen as its President at this crucial point in its existence our own Secretary of State for External Affairs. It is therefore especially fitting that we should have as our speaker today a former President of the General Assembly. As a graduate of the University of the Philippines and of Columbia University, as an editor and publisher in his own country, as a distinguished soldier who took part in the invasion of Leyte and the recapture of Manila, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs of his country, and now as Ambassador to the United States, the career of our guest has been one of brilliance and amazing versatility. In one respect I think it is unique. He has not only been the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism but is the author of five best-sellers, the last of which called "The United" which was published last year is a novel. It is, however, as a world citizen and as one of the bulwarks of the United Nations that the name of General Romulo is best-known and respected throughout the world and it gives me great pleasure to ask him to speak to you about "The United Nations Today."
GENERAL ROMULO: I consider it a high honour to be your guest on this the seventh anniversary of the United Nations.
I come from a country which used to be geographically distant from Canada. Today, in our rapidly contracting world, the Philippines together with the rest of the Far East has become your next-door neighbour. Manila, our capital city, is less than two days flying time from Toronto. The vast Pacific is no longer the formidable water barrier that it was between your land and mine. And while the earth, in a physical sense, has been getting smaller, our concept of inter-dependence among nations has been growing broader. The span of our common interests has become co-extensive with the globe. Thus we find this great Dominion, which is historically oriented towards Europe, playing an increasingly import' ant role in Asia today. We may account for this in part by the facts of geography. Canada, like its illustrious neighbour, the United States, is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power, and it was bound to take a more active interest in the affairs of Asia as its own western frontier moved across the North American continent to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. But the true explanation is to be found not so much in the national expansion of Canada as in the growing solidarity of the free world under the aegis of the United Nations.
The measure of this growth of unity among the component countries of the free world is reflected in the role which Canada has assumed in Asia. That role has a dual character, each sub-serving the cause of freedom and both as devoid of self-interest as it is humanly possible to be.
In the past, as you know, Western Powers came to Asia to establish by force of arms their dominion over Asian peoples. Today Canada, a Western Power, sends its troops into Korea to help an Asian nation to defend its independence against aggression.
For centuries the wealth of Asian lands was exploited for the benefit of the West. One consequence of this exploitation was to retard and distort the economic growth of the Asian countries, to such an extent that many of them now require international aid to achieve the level of economic development essential to the maintenance of a free society in the modern world. Today Canada, which had no part in the process of exploitation, is helping to rectify its baneful effects. Canada is a participant in the Colombo Plan and its contribution to the United Nations' expanded programme of technical assistance to under-developed countries is second only to that of the United States.
You will understand, therefore, why I should feel exceptionally gratified to be able to observe United Nations Day here in Canada, among a people who stand in the vanguard of the free world's struggle against both the danger of aggression and the menace to peace arising from widespread poverty, hunger and misery in the underdeveloped areas of the world. I cannot think of a better place, or a more auspicious occasion, for renewing my faith in the United Nations and my hope that the dream of world brotherhood enshrined in the Charter will be realized in good time.
It seems to me that there is a special need for this reaffirmation of faith among the peoples of the free world today. We are passing through a period of disappointment and doubt about the United Nations. After seven years of toil and struggle, the sanguine hopes for peace raised in San Francisco remain unfulfilled, and there appears to be no more rewarding prospect before mankind than an indefinite extension of the "cold war" with its ugly tensions, its crushing economic burdens and its poisonous climate of suspicion and fear. With the recession of hope, confidence in the United Nations is being undermined and many are questioning not only its effectiveness but its very reason for being.
I hope this is just a momentary wavering of allegiance. The United Nations can withstand, at it has in the past, the hard blows of its enemies. But it cannot survive the 'defection or the defeatism of its friends.
I submit that there is no cause for despair about the United Nations. The purposes and principles for which it stands are as valid today as they were at the bright moment of its founding. The ends which it has sought to attain-peace and prosperity for all nations, in conditions that safeguard and nourish human dignity and freedom
' are no less desirable now. And its methods have been proved to be sound: conciliation and co-operation where-ever possible; firmness and strength whenever necessary.
It is quite true that the United Nations has not brought peace to the world in a day, but who, knowing as we do now the magnitude and complexity of this task, would have expected such a miracle to happen? And why should we, in reviewing the record with the wisdom of hindsight, hold against the United Nations its failure to accomplish a goal that was rendered unattainable by Communist intransigence?
It would be more sensible, I think, to assess the situation anew in the light of experience, and plot our future course according to the lessons we have learned.
The first of these lessons is patience. We realize clearly now that we may have to put up with the "cold war" for a much longer period than we had originally hoped. The possibility, however remote, of a rapprochement with the Communist Powers, should never be precluded and all the conceivable avenues of conciliation should be kept open at all times. However, the fact that the state of conflict--short-of-war may be indefinitely prolonged must be accepted and resolutely faced.
This means that the free world must continue to build up strength adequate for defense and at the same time perfect the United Nations machinery for its effective use in case it should be required to deal with a new act of aggression.
The second lesson that should serve as a guidepost in our search for peace through the United Nations is the fact that a free world divided against itself is no match for the Communist world. We should therefore make every effort to reduce to a minimum the tensions that stand in the way of fuller collaboration among the free nations. We could, for instance, co-operate with more sincerity and goodwill in speeding up the process of liberation of the remaining non-self-governing peoples and in promoting universal respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. Thereby we can enhance our collective strength and solidarity.
Finally, the free world, through the United Nations, should utilize more fully its capacity to help the underdeveloped countries to raise their standards of living by democratic means. Experience has shown that this is the most effective way of combatting the insidious lure of Communism in the depressed and poverty-ridden areas. It would be particularly useful in South and Southeast Asia, where the pressure for rapid economic and social development is unusually strong and the means for achieving it woefully inadequate.
It is in this field that the highly developed countries of the West, like Canada and the United States, could play a decisive role in keeping a vital area of the free world securely in the democratic camp. There is every reason to believe that the resources of the free world are adequate to the task. The Secretary-General of the United Nations estimates that the present volume of capital and other forms of aid for the economic development of the depressed areas can be increased by at least one billion dollars a year, despite the huge expenditures required by current defense programmes.
An investment on this scale in the economic and social development of free Asia and other depressed areas would constitute a major contribution to international peace and security. It would have the effect of linking free Asia's well-being inseparably with the welfare of the rest of the free world through the United Nations.
The peoples living in the depressed areas are moved by a strong urge to better their lot, to buttress their hard-won political freedom with the substance of a better life. They look to their sister democracies among the developed countries for understanding and assistance. It is to the lasting credit of the people of this great land that they have been among the first and the most generous to respond to this human need.
By this unselfish act, they might have served better than they realized the cause of peace and orderly progress to which the United Nations is dedicated. The Charter establishes an absolute parity between the provisions relating to collective security and those which pertain to higher standards of living and respect for human dignity. That is why the United Nations has been entrusted with a twofold responsibility: the maintenance of peace by security measures and the promotion of economic and social progress. The two functions are inter-dependent and indivisible, for peace could not prevail in the world unless all the provisions of the Charter were honoured and implemented.
The fate of the United Nations as a useful and effective organization will depend not only on the building up of security forces powerful enough to discourage or punish aggression but also--in ever increasing measure--on whether or not the Charter's objective of a "better life in larger freedom" will become a reality in the lives of the disinherited and under-priviliged members of the human family.
As the standards of life in the depressed areas improve-as the domain of hunger, sickness, poverty and ignorance recedes, supplanted ever more fully by conditions of social health and economic security, the goal of universal and permanent peace will come at last within the reach of mankind.
This is the great opportunity that opens up before the free world as the United Nations embarks upon its eighth year of life. It is a cause for legitimate pride for the Canadian people to realize that they are in a position, by their generosity and good will no less than by their wisdom and statesmanship, to help turn this opportunity into a goal attained, an age-old dream finally realized.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. H. A. Edmison.