The New Face of the United Nations
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 6 Oct 1960, p. 9-23
Martin, The Honourable Paul, Speaker
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The importance and inevitability of the United Nations as established by events of the last year, particularly in the Congo and now in the current Fifteenth Assembly of the United Nations, to maintain order in the world, and as represented in the collective conscience of mankind. An examination of the proceedings of the Fifteenth Assembly. A discussion of Mr. Khrushchev's remarks, as well as speeches by Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Nehru. Revisions to the United Nations. The ideological difference that divides the world at this time. The issues of disarmament and control. The role that Canada has to play. Initiatives that Canada might take.
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6 Oct 1960
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Full Text
An Address by THE HONOURABLE PAUL MARTIN, Q.C., M.P. Member of Parliament for Essex East
Thursday, October 6, 1960
CHAIRMAN: The President, Alexander Stark, Q.C.

MR. STARK: Today, the Empire Club of Canada commences its fifty-eighth year of weekly forums. To our platform has come through the years a distinguished assembly of speakers from every part of the world, to discuss with us the problems of the day and to promote and foster the bonds of unity within the Commonwealth. At this opening meeting, we are honoured to present for the third time in our history, the Honourable Paul Martin, Q.C., M.P., distinguished parliamentarian and Canadian statesman.

There are few figures in Canadian politics who are better known than our speaker. In the best sense of the term, he has made himself a professional politician. He was a brilliant student and he attended, nearly always with scholarships, five famous schools of higher learning: St. Michael's College in the Univeristy of Toronto; Osgoode Hall Law School; Harvard University; Trinity College, Cambridge; and the School of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Martin was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1928. Immediately, he turned to his first and lasting love-politics. Promptly he received his only defeat in a by-election in Renfrew North. But in 1935 he was elected for the riding of Essex East and this seat he has held continuously ever since. Of course, one of the great highlights of his career was during the period 1946-1957, when he was Minister of National Health and Welfare, a department which he led and administered with great brilliancy. In November of this year, Mr. Martin celebrates his 25th year in public life, at which time he is to be honoured by the citizens of the City of Windsor and by his friends throughout the country at a testimonial banquet which he is being tendered.

At all times, Mr. Martin has been prominent in international affairs. He was a delegate to the League of Nations. He was a delegate to the First General Assembly of the United Nations. He has represented Canada at numerous international conferences. He has travelled the world over on many international undertakings. And always, whether his party was in office or out of office, he has carried the high regard of all parties and of all Canadians.

Under the circumstances, we cannot expect Mr. Martin to deliver to us today a statement of Government policy--this might happen on a future occasion. But we do know that we will have a thoughtful, provocative address on his subject, "The New Face of the United Nations". It is with pleasure that I present to you my fellow classmate and personal friend, the Honourable Paul Martin.

MR. MARTIN: I must acknowledge at once the very generous words of introduction of Mr. Stark, and say to the Empire Club what a patient and forbearing body you must be to allow an ordinary Member of Parliament to come to you for the third time.

I recognize in this audience a number of friends and in particular I recognize a number of people--certainly two, and perhaps many more--who are much more qualified to speak on the matter that I propose to discuss today. I can only say in extenuation, I owe to Dr. Riddell, whom I am very happy to see here today, my deep interest in the early days in international affairs. And I see Mr. John Holmes, the new President of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, whom I regard as the foremost official that we have had serving Canada during the last decade as a public official in the Department of External Affairs, and particularly as I discuss what I have to say today in his presence, I hope he will give the appearance to all of you that he fully concurs in everything that I say and he will recognize I am not in any way indebted to him in the past for some of the conclusions which I have reached today.

Mr. Holmes and I served together at least at four different assemblies of the United Nations, and I am very happy now that he is out of the government service, that anything I say about him cannot be regarded as having any political or sinister implication when I recognize the great contribution he made to the formation of Canadian policy generally and, as far as I am concerned, particularly at the United Nations itself.

Now, I do always find it difficult to accede to the request of those in charge of the programme of a club like this. Invariably, one is asked for a subject for one's address and only because I was requested did I give the subject which the Chairman has announced today. Originally I intended to discuss the implications of the admission into the United Nations of so many new members, but I have decided that because of my own interest and, I suspect, yours in the current Assembly, the Fifteenth Assembly of the United Nations which is in many ways certainly the most dramatic, perhaps the most important--time will tell--I thought I would like to give you my impressions which I am sure in many particulars will be shared by you.

You and I both have the opportunity of forming judgment because of the very wide publicity over television and radio, and in our newspapers, of the proceedings at this very important meeting.

I think that the events of the last year, in particular the events in the Congo and now in this Assembly, establish beyond any doubt the importance and the inevitability of the United Nations or of the kind of instrument which was designed in 1945 and which was also designed at the conclusion of the First World War in the old League of Nations. It is inconceivable today that we could maintain any kind of order in the world unless the collective conscience of mankind was represented in the kind of body that now functions on the Island of Manhattan.

I believe that today one need spend no time in justifying the existence of the United Nations. I am sure Dr. Riddell would agree with me that it is not likely that we shall ever again in our lifetime see a repetition of the events of 1938 and 1939, the last days of the League of Nations, when we saw even the staunchest friends of that body, countries like Sweden, bit by bit, giving in, making reservations with regard to commitments that they had solemnly undertaken under the Covenant of the League of Nations. This is due, I think, in large measure to the character of the modem instruments of war which render now convincingly the futility of war as an instrument of national policy. We know now that war cannot achieve a victory. We know now that war would be destructive not only of the armed personnel, the equipment of the nations concerned, and of the civilian population, but we also know the effects of that on civilization itself.

I suppose the transparency of what I am saying began particularly about two years ago when I had an opportunity of speaking to you and reporting on some impressions that I had gathered from a trip throughout the Middle East, because it was at that time that the United Nations took on some of the form of its present authority in national states where trouble and turbulence exist.

You will remember after the setting up of the International Supervisory Organization in Jordan, and following the Suez crisis, there was set up in Lebanon a group known as the U.N.E.F., the United Nations Emergency Force. This gave to the United Nations an authority and an occasion that was not open to the League of Nations and up to that time had not been open to the United Nations because the work of the Trust Commissions in Indo-China represented the creation of the Geneva accord outside the United Nations itself.

So as we examine the proceedings now of the Fifteenth Assembly, as we listen to the heads of state and the leaders of government who followed Mr. Khrushchev to the General Assembly of the United Nations, it becomes increasingly apparent that the authority of that body is now established and is great.

The current discussions, of course, are not inherent in the United Nations. The complaint of Mr. Khrushchev to the responses of our own Prime Minister and of Mr. MacMillan, and of others, the points of view put forward by neutralist countries, and not only those put forward by that great Asian statesman, Mr. Nehru, are all symptomatic of the problems of our world.

The United Nations has not created these problems. These problems are now reflective of the condition that must trouble all thinking men and women who desire peace, who desire an opportunity of building their own countries without the intervention of war.

So I believe that whatever may have been his reasons, Mr. Khrushchev may have done a great service to the United Nations, and I am not overlooking the possibility that he has gained a great advantage likewise in coming, notwithstanding what may be our reaction to the offensive way in which he has put forward his point of view.

Why did Mr. Khrushchev come to the United Nations at this time? This was his second visit. You remember a year ago he came to the United Nations for the first time and he put forward a proposal for a comprehensive scheme of disarmament and also a scheme for partial disarmament. He has the right to come as the head of a government, a member state of the organization, but we equally have the right to enquire as to why, particularly following the failure of the meeting in Paris last May, he has come for a second time in succession to the rostrum of the United Nations.

It may be because he feels that it is necessary for him to prove his toughness to his partner, the so-called Chinese People's Republic, because seemingly he is having some difficulties with that nation. I believe it is necessary now more and more for whoever is the head of the Government of the Soviet Union, to justify his position increasingly with the people of that country. I remember Mr. Vishinski saying at the United Nations that never would the Soviet Union open the windows of that country to allow ideas from the West to percolate. That has changed, and with the increase in the standard of living of the people of the Soviet Union there has come a knowledge of other countries through visits that have been made by statesmen, businessmen, and others from other parts of the world to Moscow.

And I believe that it is basic in Communism today to want to rock the boat. More thoughtful students may regard this as a reactionary observation, but I believe that in the Soviet Union as presently constituted, the interests in this stage of what rapidly is becoming an industrial and consumer society like our own, and the interests of its ideology demand an absence of stability in the world short of war itself.

I am sure, as Mr. Lange, the Foreign Minister for Norway, said the other day, no country is deliberately engaged in considering the desirability of war as an instrument of national policy at this time. But it may be that there is still another reason for the decision of Chairman Khrushchev to come to the United Nations. That is that he recognizes the value of the United Nations as a propaganda forum in the best and in the most evil sense. General de Gaulle said, speaking of this necessity in the technique of action of the Soviet Union, that each spectacular Communist propaganda offensive is intended to alarm and thus to sidetrack the West. I have no doubt that Mr. Khrushchev has had this consideration in mind.

I am not saying that his is the only country that has used the United Nations for that purpose, but I believe that in this particular instance there is strong evidence to support the view that this is one of the reasons why he regards the Assembly of the United Nations as an effective vehicle for advising not only the so-called freedom-loving nations, but particularly the uncommitted nations of the purposes and the intentions of the Soviet Union's foreign policy.

I don't think that anyone can deny that the situation now does present us with very great dangers. I said that I don't believe that one of these dangers includes now a deliberate provocation of world war, but as the President of the United States said, speaking the other day to the General Assembly, we could have war by miscalculation. And that does put on the shoulders of all of us, those in government in particular, very great responsibility at this time to consider the effect of nuclear warfare, the possession of nuclear weapons in relation to the very danger which could come about through a war by miscalculation now on the part of those nations, that limited number that have within their disposal, or at their disposal, the power of promoting a cataclysmic situation in our world. The mounting of nuclear stock-piles does create a danger in itself. When I was in the Middle East two years ago I couldn't help but think what a danger in the light of the situation at that time could have been provoked if any of the Middle Eastern powers themselves were in possession of nuclear weapons and had a capacity of using them on any country toward whom their intentions of aggression might be addressed.

So in the face of all this situation it seems to me, as I am sure it will to you, that there can be no question about the necessity of a surveillance body which at this time I believe presents in terms of effectiveness the great opportunity of the United Nations.

What does Mr. Khrushchev want, because he has projected before this assembly the one dominant question that is in the minds of every government and every man and woman in the civilized world? What is the purpose of the present attack that he is making on the West?

What are the reasons for the inability, particularly of the Soviet Union and the United States, to come to some understanding?

Mr. Khrushchev has not stated comprehensively, in spite of his two-hour speech, what those comprehensive intentions are. He has addressed himself to the nations of Asia, the nations in particular now of Africa, and of the Middle East, and to other areas in the world, but his statement, carefully examined, I think does not give the whole story or the whole programme of the Soviet Union. Rather, he has resorted to certain side issues and in so resorting he has revealed how ineffective from his point of view at this time the United Nations happens to be, and he made his attack by first of all attacking the Secretary General of the United Nations, and then suggesting certain changes in the constitution of that body.

The United Nations, of course, has got to be revised. There has to be a revision of the charter some time. We thought two or three years ago that time was at hand, but as Mr. Nehru said the other day, there is a time and a place for things that must be done. Certainly I believe that the Security Council will have to be enlarged to take into account the newer members and particularly the older members of the United Nations spread outside of Europe and the Americas. A new and enlarged Security Council that takes into account the position of countries like India seems to be inevitable, but now is not the moment to revise the organization of the United Nations. It could not be done. It would create an acrimony, it would create dissension, and I think Mr. Nehru was wise in saying we must select the time and we must select perhaps even the place.

The proposal that Mr. Khrushchev has lost confidence in the Secretary General is certainly revealing. I well remember the day that Dag Hammarskjold was made Secretary General of the United Nations. I am sure Mr. Holmes remembers it, too. I was then Chairman of our delegation. My colleague Mr. Pearson, then Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs, was President of the United Nations. Mr. Pearson undoubtedly would have become the Secretary General if it had not been for the intended exercise of the veto on the part of the Soviet Union. His candidacy therefore was out of the question. Then one day rather suddenly I remember walking along the corridors of the United Nations running into Mr. Trygve Lie, who then I think hoped for a reappointment or for an extension of his term or for an appeal not to carry out his threat of retirement, saying to me it wouldn't be very long before he would be out of the office of Secretary General. He told me then privately that Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden was going to be the man. Dag Hammarskjold became the Secretary General. He became Secretary General largely because of his own great qualities, mainly because the Soviet Union was prepared to support him-a man who likewise was respected, and in whom there was great confidence on the part of the great powers in the West. He was to suffer the same fate, however, as came to Mr. Trygve Lie. Mr. Trygve Lie was made Secretary General in 1946 as a result of the decision of the Soviet Union to support his candidacy. He, of course, too, had the support of the West, not as the first, but as an acceptable choice. But just as Trygve Lie ran counter to the wishes and purposes of the Soviet Union, so, too, apparently has Mr. Dag Hammarskjold.

I want to simply say this, as one who has worked with Mr. Hammarskjold over a number of years, there is no abler, no more responsible international public servant, than this distinguished citizen of Sweden. He had given to the United Nations an objective approach, an honourable approach, and it is regrettable now that in the important decision he had to make in particular in the Congo, he should apparently have lost the confidence of one of the great powers, so important for the satisfactory functioning of the United Nations. But the proposal that the office of Secretary General should be abolished, that there should be three Secretaries General or three individuals representing three points of view in the world is impracticable and is designed only for one purpose: to perpetuate in the administration of the United Nations the very abuse which inevitably and for some time has continued to exist in the Security Council. If there were to be three persons combining the office now occupied by one-one representing the neutralist powers; one the free nations, the nations of the West; and the Communist powers, including the Soviet Union, we would have in effect three different vetoes and that would make impossible the functioning of the great and the important office of Secretary General.

One examines what was done in Jordan in 1956, what was done in Lebanon in 1956, what could easily be done in Berlin in some future date, what was done in principle in Indo-China, and one recognizes the possibility of detracting from the power of the Secretary General. The office of the Secetary General under the Charter of the United Nations is almost that of a state by itself. The Secretary General is given power of initiative, a power which this Secretary General has taken on with increasingly satisfactory results, I believe, for the development of some kind of machinery in the international order.

Now, all of that has taken place at a time when new members are being added to the United Nations. I think I know something of the problem of new members. In 1955, Canada had put forward a proposal for the admission of sixteen new members of the United Nations and I happened to be, as Canadian spokesman, the instrument of that particular action. I well remember the concern on the part of Great Britain, on the part of the United States in particular, and of France, toward the decision to recognize the universality of the Charter of the United Nations by bringing in members who for one reason or another had been obstructed, either by the Soviet Union or by certain nations in the West. But it seemed to Canada, and just as it seems to me now, in spite of the dangers, in spite of the difficulties, that if the United Nations is to grow in stature and effectiveness, it must become a body of the states of the world, whether they are new or whether they are old, and that we will do more to further the progress of mankind by recognizing the inevitable rather than bowing at the moment to the inconvenience that might be caused certain states--certain of the great powers on both sides who find it embarrassing to have projected before the Assembly of the United Nations the problems which greatly concern their colonial offices and their foreign offices.

I believe that the speeches of Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Nehru, and in particular, the utterances of our Prime Minister and the things that he said at this Assembly, have all been to the good. I believe that it is a good thing for the heads of government and for the heads of states to go to the United Nations. I don't say that they should go on all occasions, and when their motives are mixed, as in the case of Mr. Khrushchev, this time possibly the commendation doesn't apply. But the great weakness of the League of Nations, as Dr. Riddell knows, and much better than I, was that only at the beginning were heads of government to be found generally in attendance at the League of Nations, and during the last portion of the League of Nations, Foreign Ministers did not always attend either. I believe it is important that we have a public discussion of the great issues that divide us to be able to form a judgment from all sides as to the kind of conclusions we are going to reach, in order to avoid the possibility of a war that would be destructive to the extent of making it a futile, unnecessary, and barbarous effort.

The ideological difference that divides the world at this time is something we are going to have to live with, something in which we are given the opportunity of showing a greater initiative than we have done in demonstrating the positive characteristics of our free way of life, and of seizing the initiative more often instead of always leaving it to the "tactful brilliance" of men like Mr. Khrushchev and others who are carrying on a procedure which of course creates for the world, and the people, the most dangerous kind of situation. But apart from that general difference, the solution of which means so much for the peace of mankind and the preservation of what you and I regard as essential to our way of life, I suppose the most important single question is that of disarmament. Mr. Nehru has said it was. Mr. MacMillan has acknowledged that it is. And I suppose if we are going to avoid the possibility of war, the quicker we get to the point where we can reduce the temptation for the use of these instruments of human destruction the better.

But this subject is a very difficult one. I was a member of a subcommittee of the United Nations on disarmament for three years. Canada, the United States, France, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom were constituted into a subcommittee for the purpose of trying to arrive at some formula, particularly between the great powers, designed to ease the strain of nuclear weapons and to bring about some agreement in the matter of conventional arms. Those were three years of frustration, three years in which we made practically no progress whatsoever. In spite of the Summit Meeting of 1954, which created, until Eisenhower's heart attack, some hope of some healthier international climate, no progress was made whatsoever, just as no progress had been made in the Atomic Energy Commission before in the matter of atomic agreement.

I must say in so far as that period is concerned, the main reason for failure to arrive at any accord, the main reason for not bridging the gap in any way, lies at the door of the Soviet Union, its unwillingness to recognize that now disarmament had to go hand in hand with control and with a recognition of what the objects of control are.

There was never any chance, never any agreement on the part of the Soviet Union with regard to this essential condition, in so far as our integrity and our security is concerned.

We thought, or some thought last year-I was not among those and I said so in the House of Commons-that the proposal of Mr. Khrushchev on September 20, 1959, did represent a new attitude on the part of the Soviet Union in the matter of disarmament. You know the result of the ten power meeting. They achieved nothing.

Now we have a proposal of Mr. MacMillan that because of the contributions made by the scientists, they might examine this business of nuclear and conventional arms and come forward with recommendations which might possibly encourage a political agreement at some subsequent date. I don't know whether or not that is going to happen. I believe it would be a worth-while solution, but the fact is we now have out in the open the same position taken in the open by the Soviet Union, the same position that Mr. Malik and Mr. Gromyko and Mr. Sovanof took in the subcommittee meetings of the Disarmament Commission. "Yes, we want disarmament," said Mr. Khrushchev, "we want disarmament ... we have made a proposal ... accept our proposal, and once this is done then we will accept any form of inspection and control that you put forward."

That position was taken by Mr. Khrushchev only a few days ago again.

It seems to me that dangerous as the possession of weapons of war is, having in mind the record of the Soviet Union, we can never allow that kind of eventuality to emerge. We could never agree, it seems to me, to disarmament in the absence, if you will, of the stage by stage basis of a system of control that would give absolute guarantee to all parties concerned that no violation of any agreement could be anticipated without it being checked by the system of control set up.

I was very happy to hear Mr. Nehru say the other day--and I think that is the first time India has ever said this--that disarmament was desirable, was not only desirable, but both essential and urgent, but that disarmament without control did not seem to him to be a rational suggestion. That, I think, will help greatly in the case of the Western powers.

Now, there is no need nor is there time for traversing all of the details of this disarmament discussion, except to put forward that I believe, on the basis of my own experience as a member of a government at one time in this country and as one who has taken some part in the discussing of these matters of the United Nations, that Canada has a particular function to play.

I suppose that every country through its nationalists, through supporters of the government, put forward the view that their country has a special opportunity to play in the preservation of peace, and all countries have. But it seems to me that they all have the role of honest broker, as well as the role of expressing their opinions independently of any foreign government or of any government with whom they might in any way be in concert. And this is open in a special way to Canada.

Are we to leave the settlement of this impasse only to the great powers, and to the neutralist countries?

Are we satisfied that the neutralist countries themselves are the best agents?

And I say that knowing full well some of the difficulties, and of the high statesmanship being taken now at the United Nations, and particularly yesterday by a man like Nehru.

I believe there is a group of countries that can play a role that are not playing that role, a role that has been played by them individually, and on some minor occasions collectively in the past.

Canada is the United States' closest neighbour. I suppose because of our geography we understand that country as well as any other nation. We are a member of the Commonwealth. We have close and understandable ties with every member of the Commonwealth and particularly with three of the newer members of the Commonwealth, countries like India and Pakistan and Ceylon, which, I am sure, have a special regard for Canada because of the understanding way in which we pursued and followed their policies during the last decade, at a time when they were so widely misunderstood throughout the West.

I believe, as we are a young country and on that account have had no occasion for error and as our conduct generally has been honourable and objective, that we do have a role to play, an increasing role, and I would think that in disarmament there is an opportunity for us in a special way.

I don't know what the constitution of the new disarmament body will be, if there is to be one, and I note with agreement the suggestion of the Prime Minister that the Chairman of the Ten Power Committee meeting might well be a neutral.

I do think-recognizing that the peace of the world largely depends on the relationship between the United States, Great Britain, and to a lesser extent on Canada; recognizing the essential desirability of maintaining this triangular unit; recognizing the desirability of a unit and an understanding that must prevail among NATO countries -that unity need not in any way suffer by the taking of initiative by a country like Canada. This initiative, I believe, in many instances would be followed by other countries. I think it would be reasonable to assume that countries like Brazil and Mexico, or countries like Sweden, Norway, Holland, and Denmark, would stand with us on most basic questions, and while we don't fully agree, I should think that Mr. Nehru's government would find it difficult not to support responsible positions taken by a country like Canada.

At any rate, this is a venture into which at this critical time in the history of the world--I don't say at this particular moment--we should be prepared to embark. We would do it responsibly, we would do it prudently, we would do it without the full scrutiny of the world on every action that we undertook, but it would be one that would be a reminder to those with whom we are closely associated that there are points of view that are shadings of opinion, that there are necessities for bringing together the dissident voices in this disturbed world.

This doesn't mean a compromise on principle. This merely means asserting the basic character of our nation which is a nation that recognizes the validity and, as we recently acknowledged in the Bill of Rights, the supremacy of God, and the preservation of freedom. It doesn't involve any violations of that sort, and I hasten to state this because of the misinterpretations sometimes placed on this kind of suggestion.

That, I believe, represents a course of action which this country of ours, growing in population, strong in resources, respected in diplomacy, might take, as one of those various solutions proposed for trying to bring order out of chaos, of trying to avoid war in the hope that we might in this turbulent period nevertheless see the beginning of a world at peace.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. Marvin Gelber.

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The New Face of the United Nations

The importance and inevitability of the United Nations as established by events of the last year, particularly in the Congo and now in the current Fifteenth Assembly of the United Nations, to maintain order in the world, and as represented in the collective conscience of mankind. An examination of the proceedings of the Fifteenth Assembly. A discussion of Mr. Khrushchev's remarks, as well as speeches by Mr. MacMillan and Mr. Nehru. Revisions to the United Nations. The ideological difference that divides the world at this time. The issues of disarmament and control. The role that Canada has to play. Initiatives that Canada might take.