GA 1st committee: the conflict in Korea
DOC-E  217
Date  13/12/1950
Collection  UN
Subject  GA 1st committee: the conflict in Korea
External Archive Reference  A/C.1/SR.416

34.              Mr. SHARETT (Israel) declared that Israel, throughout all the vicissitudes of the grave issue of Korea, had been guided by the major principles of its policy in international affairs, namely, the preservation of world peace, the prevention of aggression and the strengthening of the United Nations as an instrument of world peace and security.

35.              The implications of the Korean conflict were such that realistic statesmanship forbade treating it in isolation from its wider context. With its worldwide repercussions, that problem concerned not only the fate of the Korean people, but directly affected the precarious balance of world stability.

36.              Even the revolutionary political transformation affecting the destiny of hundreds of millions of people in China, which was the outcome of a titanic struggle, had not precipitated an acute international crisis as had the recent events in the small country of Korea. The latter events had posed issues of war or peace for the whole world and confronted the United Nations with supreme tests of statesmanship. While the problem of the governmental regime in China, for all that country’s vast size, had never become a matter of direct international concern and adjudication, the events which had occurred in Korea had shaken the international community to its very foundations. The reason for that astounding contrast lay not in logic but in factual evolution.

37.              Korea, ever since its emergence from Japanese bondage, had been a subject of various international arrangements, first through an agreement between the major world Powers and later in a series of resolutions adopted by the United Nations (General Assembly resolutions 112 (II), 195 (III), and 293 (IV)). Each Korean settlement had been thus woven into the fabric of international stability and had become an integral part of the structure of organized peace. Consequently, it would be impossible to upset any such settlement without subjecting the entire structure to imminent peril. That fundamental characteristic of the Korean problem explained the revulsion of the civilized world when South Korea had been attacked by North Korea in June 1950. While the war in China, despite all its fury and gigantic proportions, had been confined to that country, the aggression in Korea had constituted a blow to world peace and challenged the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations. Hence, the reaction of the overwhelming majority of the United Nations Members.

38.              Against that compelling background, the argument that what was happening in Korea was merely a civil war, in which the United Nations had no business to interfere, sounded hollow. Nor could the invasion of South Korea be considered a move to liberate the country from foreign yoke or an attempt to reunite its torn parts. To impose a particular social or political regime upon a people, at the point of a sword and with outside help, was not national liberation.

39.              The majestic march of Asian peoples toward complete political emancipation did not need to take the form of the expansion of one specific social order. It was the basic duty of the United Nations to foster and promote national liberty, but in doing so it had to ensure that the shaping of the internal order be left to the discretion of the people whose national liberty the Organization was protecting. Nor was it possible or proper for the United Nations to divest itself of the responsibility it had assumed.

40.              For all those reasons, the Government of Israel had condemned unreservedly the aggression committed in Korea and had lent such modest assistance as it could to the United Nations forces. The Israeli delegation, for the same reasons, had voted for the General Assembly resolution of 7 October (A/1435) which enabled the United Nations forces to cross the 38th parallel. The considerations that had prevailed with the Israeli delegation in regard to that decision were threefold. First, from a purely military standpoint, it was clear that an advancing army could not, without exposing itself to grave peril, unilaterally arrest its progress at a straight line drawn arbitrarily on the map. Secondly, it seemed politically essential to give the United Nations forces the indispensable latitude to consolidate their position, to ensure their substantial control of Korea, and to prevent or render remote the threat of renewed aggression. Thirdly, and on the purely moral side, the concept of the 38th parallel seemed already to have lost its validity following the initial violation by the aggressor.

41.              Mr. Sharett pointed out that, during the considerations of the Korean question in the First Committee (346th to 353rd meetings), the Israel delegation had first supported the Indian proposal (A/C. 1/572) which had sought to achieve a solution acceptable to all parties, and, upon its rejection (353rd meeting), had itself presented an amendment (A/C. 1/573) to and associated itself with the majority draft resolution on Korea (A/C.1/558). Above all, however, the Israeli delegation had been concerned with the need for restraint in the military sense and had urged the exercise of the utmost forbearance in that regard. Nevertheless, the conflagration had been indeed intensified and the peril vastly increased, with the participation of large new forces thrown in from the North.

42.              It was obvious that a cease-fire was now essential. When Israel had been confronted with a similar situation, hostilities had been avoided by a cease-fire, followed in due course by a truce and eventually by an armistice brought about by the United Nations. With that experience in mind, the Israeli delegation, together with a few other delegations, had met informally with the representatives of the Central People’s Government of China, with a view to exploring the possibility of resolving the crisis by a similar action taken in a series of successive steps. When that attempt had failed, however, the Israeli delegation had followed with interest and sympathy the attempts made by the representative of India to find a solution, and had made certain efforts on its own initiative to explore the chances of a solution.

43.              The Israeli delegation, while it considered an immediate and unconditional cease-fire to be the first condition necessary for a settlement and hoped sincerely for its adoption by the First Committee, felt that the possibilities of agreement went far beyond the matter of a cease-fire.

44.              The aim of a free, independent and unified Korea had been defined both in the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 7 October (A/1435) and in the draft resolution (A/1426) submitted by the USSR and four associated Powers at that time (294th plenary meeting); both proposals had accepted the principle of United Nations responsibility and concern for the establishment of the Korean State, a responsibility to be expressed through the constitution of a United Nations commission for Korea. Even now it was possible to agree on the composition of such a commission by association of the States bordering on Korea in the work of the present United Nations Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea. Furthermore, both the adopted resolution and the USSR draft were in agreement on the idea of free elections in Korea, to be carried out in consultation with the representative bodies of both North and South Korea. Finally, the fundamental principle of a unified and independent Korea free of non-Korean forces should commend itself to the United Nations as a whole. In fact, the General Assembly resolution on Korea (A/1435) clearly stated that the United Nations forces should not remain in Korea any longer than was necessary for the establishment of a unified State. Yet, the United Nations forces could not be withdrawn before they had fully discharged the responsibilities which they had undertaken in Korea. A progressive withdrawal, over a period of, say, six months, of all non-Korean forces, for whatever purpose they had entered Korea, could be envisaged as desirable. Other concepts which represented common ground were the economic rehabilitation of a reunited Korea under United Nations auspices, and the solemn undertaking by all States to refrain from any intervention in Korea’s internal affairs. For all those objectives, the unanimous support of the General Assembly could be reasonably expected.

45.               The implementation of a cease-fire arrangement undoubtedly would create a favourable atmosphere for the peaceful settlement of all other outstanding questions affecting the relations of the Central People’s Government of China with the United Nations.

46.               In conclusion, Mr. Sharett affirmed Israel’s support for the thirteen-Power draft resolution (A/C.1/ 641) and invited all other delegations to reflect on the approach which his own delegation had tentatively outlined, taking into consideration not merely the rights and wrongs of the origin of the crisis, but primarily the ensuring of world peace.

Source Document 1 
language  eng
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