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Thursday, 8 November 1956

Mr Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) s asked the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   Did the United Nations Assembly in 1952 pass a resolution declaring that undeveloped countries had the right to nationalize the resources within their own boundaries?

2.   If so, what was the wording of the resolution?

3.   Did the United States of America delegation propose an amendment to the resolution to the effect that if such course of action was taken, treaty rights of individuals and nations and the principles of international law should be respected?

4.   If so, what was the wording of the amendment?

5.   How didGreat Britain and Australia vote on the resolution and amendment?

6.   What was the voting for and against on both the resolution and the amendment?

Sir Philip McBride - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   A draft resolution was introduced into the Economic Committee of the United Nations

General Assembly in 1952 by the Uruguay delega tion which, amongst other things, recommended that member states " should recognize the right of each country to nationalize and freely exploit its natural wealth as an essential factor of economic independence ". However, following discussion in the Committee, the draft resolution was revised by its sponsors (Uruguay and Bolivia delegations) to omit the specific referenceto nationalization.

2.   The resolution ultimately adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 21st December, 1952, entitled "Right to exploit freely natural wealth and resources ", reads as follows: -

The General Assembly,

Bearing in mind the need for encouraging the under-developed countries in the proper use and exploitation of their natural wealth and resources,

Considering that the economic development of the under-developed countries is one of the fundamental requisites for the strengthening of universal peace.

Remembering that the right of peoples freely to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources is inherent in their sovereignty and is in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

(1)   Recommends all Member States in the exercise of their right freely to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources wherever deemed desirable by them for their own progress and economic development, to have due regard, consistently with their sovereignty, to the need for maintaining the flow of capital in conditions of security. mutual confidence and economic co-operation among nations;

(2)   Further recommends all Member States to refrain from acts, direct or indirect, designed to impede the exercise of the sovereignty of any State over its natural resources.

3.   In the Economic Committee, the delegation of the United States of America did propose amendments to the draft resolution after it had been revised and the references to nationalization had been omitted.

4.   If the amendments proposed by the United States had been agreed to, the following paragraphs would have appeared instead of the paragraphs numbered (1) and (2) in the resolution finally adopted: -

Bearing in mind the need to maintain mutual understanding and economic cooperation between the nations of the world:

Recommends that Member States maintain proper respect for the right of each country freely to decide for itself whether its progress and economic development can best be furthered by having its natural wealth and resources developed by private initiative or by government enterprise or by both;

Recommends further that when countries decide that it is beneficial to their progress and economic development that they should themselves use and exploit some or all of their natural wealth and resources, member States should refrain from consequential action of a nature contrary to the principles of international law and practices, and to the provisions of international agreements;

Recommends further that countries deciding to develop their natural wealth and resources should refrain from taking action, contrary to the applicable principles of international law and practice and to the provisions of international agreements, against the rights or interests of nationals of other Member States in the enterprise, skills, capital, arts or technology which they have supplied.

5.   In the Economic Committee, the United States amendments were defeated. The United Kingdom delegation voted in favour, the Australian delegation abstained. In the committee, both the United Kingdom and the Australian delegations abstained from voting on the resolution adopted. In the plenary session of the Assembly, the United Kingdom voted against the resolution adopted, and Australia abstained.

6.   The voting on the United States amendment was: In favour, 17; against, 28; abstentions, 5. The voting on the resolution adopted was: In committee - In favour, 31; against, 1; abstentions, 19. In the plenary session - In favour, 38; against, 4; abstentions, 20.

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