Dilemma of The Small and The Big: UN in Search of Balance

  January 09, 2021   Read time 1 min
Dilemma of The Small and The Big: UN in Search of Balance
The controversies of the conflict between the big and the small indeed date back to the very early days of the evolution of this international organization. Many efforts were made for reaching a balance but none of them proved successful and this balance turned into an ideal that would never see the light of day.

The smaller powers wanted wider powers to discuss other questions. New Zealand and Australia held out for the very general statement of the Assembly's powers already proposed by New Zealand, which asserted the Assembly's right to discuss anything under the sun. The Soviet Union was strongly opposed to this statement, apparently foreseeing Assembly discussion of the world communist movement or domestic matters in the Soviet Union. She therefore wanted the phrase limited to cover only matters which 'affect the maintenance of peace and security'. Though this limitation was voted down by a large majority, the Soviet Union maintained its view in discussions with the rest of the Five. These eventually accepted that Assembly recommendations should be limited in the way the Soviet Union suggested. Again the assembled smaller states refused to budge. The matter became a critical one. Gromyko informed Stettinius that he had received instructions to refuse to sign the Charter unless his objections were met. Eventually a sub-committee of Stettinius, Gromyko and Evatt, the Australian Foreign Minister (who played a prominent part as the champion of Assembly powers), was set up to find an acceptable compromise. After various disagreements, Evatt and Stettinius proposed that the Assembly's competence should be defined as extending to any question within the 'sphere of the Charter' or the 'scope of the Charter' or the 'sphere of action of the organisation'. Again the matter had to go to Moscow, and Harriman, the US ambassador, was instructed to warn the Soviet Government that, if none of these was accepted, the United States would reserve its 'freedom of action' for the future. By this time the Conference was almost over and the Charter due for signature in a few days. Finally the Soviet Government relented. It was thus provided, in Article 10 of the Charter, that the Assembly could discuss 'any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter'; but the exception of matters under consideration by the Council remained.