HC Deb 12 June 1967 vol 748 cc69-71
6. Mr. Ogden

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he proposes to enable the United Nations to play a more prompt and effective rôle in dealing with dangerous and difficult international situations where United Nations intervention is desirable.

Mr. George Brown

I do not exclude the possibility of putting forward proposals for reform at the right time. The problem at present is much more the lack of will amongst the membership to make the Organisation effective, than any structural deficiencies in it.

Mr. Ogden

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there is an urgent need for reform of the United Nations' Charter? Will he at least begin preliminary consultations with friendly Governments to see what proposals can be put forward at an early date?

Mr. Brown

I do not think I agree with my hon. Friend that the need at the moment is to reform the Charter. I think that the need at the moment is to try to produce some will to make the Charter work. As to the second part of the question, I do not think I agree that one should divide members of the United Nations into friendly Governments and unfriendly Governments. I think that one has to work with them all.

Mr. G. Campbell

Can the right hon. Gentleman make any report on progress towards agreement on the validity of and procedure for peace-keeping operations?

Mr. Brown

This is obviously being discussed. It arises very much out of recent events, and it is one of the things which the Security Council and the Foreign Ministers will have to take into account when they meet.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will my right hon. Friend consider proposing that there should be quarterly meetings of the Security Council, with Foreign Ministers as delegates, in accordance with Article 28(2) of the Charter, so that disputes like that between Israel and the Arabs can be dealt with at the proper level of authority and in time to prevent them leading to war, as the recent dispute did?

Mr. Brown

I doubt whether statutory meetings of that kind would help, but I assure my right hon. Friend, having very much in mind the arguments which he has urged on me for some time now, that I am keeping in mind the question whether an early meeting of the Security Council at Foreign Minister level would be a good thing.

Mr. Evelyn King

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that the way in which the General Assembly works, giving equal voting power to Togoland and to Great Britain, divorces power from responsibility?

Mr. Brown

I think that in saying that the hon. Gentleman is attacking a very important issue on which the whole edifice is erected. I would not encourage him to go too far along that road.

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