Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 14. July 13, 1950
Korea-a Test Case
Korea-a Test Case
Elsewhere in this issue, we print comments on the Korean affair. Clearly, the question now has become one largely of interpretation of the U.N. Charter. We understand that Security Council decisions depend on the unanimity of the permanent members, plus the votes of a stated number of the other members. U.S.S.R. delegates say that since they themselves were not there, and since they cannot recognise the Chinese Nationalist delegate, there were two permanent members not voting—and the action cannot be recognised as a Security Council one. The American attitude is that Russia could have been present but wasn't, and therefore her non-voting cannot be taken against the decision. Britain is in the peculiar position of recognising on U.N. a delegate of a country with whom she has otherwise no diplomatic relations (formally, anyway). Which is right?
The matter of China should have been cleared up before now. The only part of "China" now remaining to the Kuomintang Government is the island fortress of Formosa. Britain has recognised the de facto government of Mao Tse Tung, but has not yet made up her mind that this involves recognition of the U.N. delegate of the Kuomintang. Lie, of course, in the ten point plan printed in the last issue of Salient, noted that 'before anything else could be really settled, this question needed to be. And he was in favour of accepting the Chinese Communist delegate—for which he was promptly accused by American senators of being a Communist!
The other question which he raised in his plan was that of membership. There are a number of nations whose applications for membership have been blocked—on the basis of "if you won't agree to admit my friend, then I won't agree to admitting yours." He stated that this issue too, needed to be settled. As the article points out, North Korea is not a member state; and presumably can say that she is not bound by the provisions of the Charter. Legally this is true, though morally we must still deplore the use of that as an argument. Again, then, Lie's suggestions are shown to have more than practical planning behind them—there is the mind of a man who genuinely wants to get the world straightened out, and impartially.
A further question which does rise out of the interpretation of the Charter is the extent of the U.N. action. Supposing we take the American view that their action is under Security Council aegis. Then as we understand it, they are entitled to restore the status quo before negotiations may commence. And this, we suppose, would mean the retreat of the Northern forces to the 38th parallel. Now in early statements, American leaders talked of this as the extent of their action. But the South Korean Minister for Defence has already loudly proclaimed that the "evil devils" (quoting from memory) would be driven back to the Manchurian border! Who is correct? The U.S. has once already made her position shaky by acting without sanction in Formosa: action past the 38th parallel will render her justification nonexistent, and will make a mockery of "action in support of the principle of the Charter."
The Charter must not be a man of war without guns: it must have some method of final sanction. But in spirit, a genuine attempt needs to be made first to settle the matter without war; and in spirit, nations must not even appear to be using the Charter to justify—to quote the article—"partisan action."