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Australian statement on South Africa in the United Nations



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N E W S R E L E A S E

NQ D ATE

D 22 · 1 November 1974

AUSTRALIAN STATEMENT ON SOUTH AFRICA .

IN THE UNITED NATIONS '

Attached is the text of a statement by the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations on 50 October 1974, in explanation of Australia's vote in support of the resolution calling for the expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations. .

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The present Australian Government has expressed its own repugnance to South Africa's policies in unequivocal statements and in actions ranging from the severance of traditional associations in the field of sports to the dissolution of partnership arrangements within the Governing Board of the

International Monetary Fund, as the Ambassador of Mauritius recalled earlier in this debate.

Council members may recall that in his statement in the general debate at the last session of the Assembly the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, said that Australia utterly rejected the intolerable practice of

apartheid in South Africa and would continue to take every opportunity to condemn it and to co-operate with all those seeking responsibly to eliminate it.

In its most conscientious and careful study of all the considerations raised by this recommendation.my Government has reached the conclusion that the moral considerations, as it sees them must be decisive. My' delegation will accordingly vote in favour of the draft resolution in document S/11543.

Mr President, let me conclude with three brief observations. Firstly, in case my delation's vote in favour of this recommendation should be contrasted with our recent vote in the General Assembly on the Report of the Credentials Committee, let me say that there is no inconsistency. My delegation has consistently taken the view over the years that the function of the Credentials Committee is limited to verification of the identity of the Official Government Signatory of a delegation's credentials, and does not extend to questioning the right of a particular Government to issue credentials. In effect, we are prepared to accept the credentials of the South African delegation so long as South Africa remains legally a member of the United Nations.

Secondly, if this recommendation should be approved by the Council and subsequently adopted by the General Assembly it must, in the view of the Australian Government, be treated as a special and exceptional action which.must on no account be

applied indiscriminately to countries that may happen to attract the opposition of a majority in the General Assembly or in the Security Council in respect of particular acts alleged to be contrary to the Charter. We are dealing here not with unsupported allegations and questionable charges against South Africa but with a well-documented case established over many years to the point where it has in effect been tried long since

by each of us individually and by all of us collectively in the United Nations. But we must not allow it to be seized upon, and used as a facile precedent to be followed in the future.

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The draft resolution in document S/11543, which recommends to the General Assembly the immediate expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations in compliance with Article 6 of the Charter, has faced my Government, along with all Governments represented in this Council, with a grave responsibility.

This is the first time in the life of the United Nations that a member State has been faced with an explicit call for its expulsion from the organisation. Expulsion must be regarded as a most serious act, to be undertaken only after profound and searching consideration of all the circumstances involved. To mention only one regrettable aspect, it represents a regression froiji the cherished principle of universality of membership, which has offered a dynamic inspiration to this

organisation ever since its foundation and which has symbolised a goal that has so far.been coming closer year by year. There is indeed an element of irony in the situation where a foundation member State located in Southern Africa is under the threat of expulsion at a time when the next substantial increase in our membership could itself well come from Southern Africa in the shape of independent former Portuguese territories.

These and other considerations, arguments for and against, have been most carefully weighed by my Government in deciding what attitude it should adopt towards this recommendation. The paramount consideration, however, and the most compelling,

is the strong sense of revulsion in the Government and among the people of Australia against South Africa's apartheid laws and the administration of them. It can hardly be contested that for many years past South Africa has been in persistent violation of the provisions of the Charter concerned with human rights and individual dignity and has ignored all demands from the United Nations to mend its ways. It has also failed to comply with long­

standing and increasingly imperative requests from the United Nations that it discharge its solemn obligations in respect . of the mandated territory of Namibia, and to obey relevant resolutions of the Security Council condemning the military

assistance it has given to the illegal regime in Rhodesia.

Successive Australian Governments, representing different political parties, have sought to persuade South Africa over many years to be more responsive to the numerous resolutions critical of its policies that have been adopted by large majorities in the United Nations» In 1961, for example, Prime Minister Menzies described to the Australian Parliament

how he had told South African Prime Minister Verwoerd that South Africa's policies offended his conscience and were alienating world opinion, and warned him that the non-white South Africans would not tolerate indefinitely the status of second-class

citizens and would be demanding their due not in friendship but with hostility and possibly violence.

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Thirdly, and finally, I am bound to say that it is greatly to be regretted that South Africa’s inability thus far to reconcile its domestic laws and policies with the damends of present-day world opinion should have brought it to the pass where it lies under the threat of expulsion from the United Nations. We can

only hope that if this threat comes to reality the South African Government will feel sufficiently conscious of increasing isolation from the world community to be persuaded to change its policies to the point where it can apply successfully for readmission to the United Nations.