Soviet Delegation's Speeches at the UN Security Council on Goa – Transcript (1961)
December 18, 1961
The delegation of the Soviet Union wishes to state that it is against the adoption of the agenda for the following reasons. The letter, from the Portuguese representative dated 18 December 1961, (S/5030), which is the only document submitted for our consideration, qualifies the events which have occurred and are still occuring in Goa as an aggression on the part of India and a violation of the sovereign rights of Portugal and of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Soviet delegation cannot agree with that evaluation and cannot regard that letter as a basis for a discussion of the question by the Security Council. In its opinion, the situation in territories which are part of a sovereign State cannot, under the Charter, be a subject for consideration by any United Nations body, including the Security Council. The present matter, in our view, is one which falls exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction of India, because Goa and the other Portuguese colonies in Indian territory cannot be regarded as other than temporarily under the colonial domination of Portugal. These territories are linked with the Indian Union by reason of their geographical position and by their history, culture, language and traditions. They were wrested from the Indian State at the time when the [European] countries were establishing their colonial empires, and we can but marvel at the patience shown by the people of India with regard to those hotbeds of colonialism in their territory.
Therefore, the question submitted by the representative of Portugal cannot be the basis for a discussion of the whole problem in the Security Council.
Accordingly, the Soviet delegation is against the adoption of the provisional agenda as set out in document S/Agenda/987.
The course of the discussion of this matter has confirmed the preliminary view which we expressed at the beginning of the meeting during the discussion of the agenda, namely, that the question raised by the representative of Portugal is not, strictly speaking, within the jurisdiction of the Security Council. However, since the question has been raised and since various aspects of it*have been commented upon, the USSR delegation considers it necessary to indicate at the very outset that, if anything is to be considered by the Security Council, it is primarily the question of the violation by the Government of Portugal of the provisions of the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples adopted by the General Assembly [resolution 1514 (XV)], which states unequivocally that measures must be taken for the liquidation of colonial empires. The Government of Portugal is not carrying out and has no intention of carrying out these provisions of the Declaration and it is thereby causing a threat to peace and security in various parts of the world. In the case the threat is in the region of Goa.
Thus, we can discuss Portugal’s violation of that Declaration and of the resolution, based on that Declaration, adopted by the Security Council on 9 June of this year in connection with Angola. These resolutions were binding on the Government of Portugal, but that Government rejected them, instead of complying with them.
In that connection I should like to draw attention to two striking facts. When Portugal exterminates tens and hundreds of thousands of Angolan citizens, the United States and the United Kingdom do not condemn it; they do not say that it is infringing the United Nations Charter, they do not call its acts aggression, and they do not propose making Portugal cease fighting in Angola and withdraw its troops from Angola and from its other colonies.
But when it is a question of helping a people and a territory which form an integral part of the people and territory of India to free themselves from colonial domination, we immediately hear loud protests about a violation of the United Nations Charter, condemnatory speeches and appeals for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops.
These are two facts which are clearly incompatible. Since the United States representative said that there cannot be two standards in applying the Charter, I should like to ask him: Why, then, do you have two standards? When it is a question of assisting colonial peoples fighting for their liberation you apply one standard, the standard of the colonialist Powers, and when it is a question of condemning the Portuguese colonial empire, you help that empire and condemn those who are fighting against it and for the implementation of the Declaration adopted by the whole Assembly, and of the resolution for which you voted this year. Last year you did not vote for the Declaration, but this year you voted in favour of the resolution regarding the implementation of the Declaration [(1654 (XVI)]. Although you voted for that resolution concerning the liberation of colonial countries and peoples, you are nevertheless immediately apprehensive when those countries and peoples begin to struggle actively for their liberation.
There is a second point to which I wish to draw attention. When Mr. Stevenson enumerated the instances when the United States had opposed the use of force, stressing that the United States had always opposed the use of force, for some reason he omitted certain facts which are known to everyone and which should not be overlooked. He forgot, for example, about the use of force in 1958 when the United States Navy was used against Iraq during the landing of occupation forces in Lebanion; he forgot about the use of force with the participation and help of the United States when the landing on Cuba was made in April 1961; he forgot about the use of force in the case of the French aggression against Tunisia in August 1961; arid lastly, a further use of force, or threat of force, which took place in November and is still continuing, against the Dominican people and the Dominican Republic. For some reason Mr. Stevenson did not cite a complete list of the facts. These facts show that when the United States wishes to use force, it is free to do so, and such use of force is always made to thwart peoples fighting for their liberation. In such a case the ethical principles of the United States are as follows: this is in line with the Charter, this is in line with the purposes of the United Nations, it does not contravene the provisions of the Charter or the principles of the United Nations. Yet there is a double contravention there: the use of force as such, and the use of force against peoples fighting for their freedom.
Thus, in our discussion of the question of Goa, the Liberian representative was entirely right when he said that the question is primarily a colonial one, it is a colonial problem, it is a legacy of colonialism by which we are still troubled. Speaking of the attitude of the Powers on this question, you have to take a clear stand: do you support the colonial Powers which are doing their utmost to retain their colonial domination and are fighting against the peoples struggling for their freedom, or are you on the side of the colonial peoples which, in implementation of the Declaration which you now approve, seek to achieve their liberation as soon as possible?
What we have heard today is evidence of the fact that the United States and the United Kingdom are supporting their NATO ally, Portugal, a colonial power, in the stand it is taking against the people it has enslaved. Here is a case of their open solidarity with the colonialists against the colonized peoples. This is an actual fact which has to be taken into account.
As regards our own position, we openly declare that we side with the people of India, with the people of Goa who are fighting to free themselves from Portugal’s colonial domination. This position may not be to the liking of some, but we consider it necessary to state it openly before the whole world. We are against the colonialists, against the colonial Powers which are trying to keep their colonies despite the fact that the General Assembly by an overwhelming majority approved the Declaration on the speedy, the immediate, granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, and that it confirmed that Declaration in a resolution passed this year and took a number of measures to accelerate that process.
What then, in our opinion, should be done to ensure that the process of liberation from colonial dependence shall be rapid and less painful? First, it seems to us that we must above all assist, not in words but in deeds, in the abolition of the colonial system wherever remnants of that system are still to be found. Secondly that process should be hastened and not held back; no attempt should be made by means of interminable negotiations and compromises to delay that inexorable process of liberation. The longer it is delayed, the more acute will be the conflicts in every region where it has not yet been completed.
In that connection I should like to remind the members of the Council of the statement made by Mr. Khrushchev, the Chairman of our Council of Ministers, on 23 September 1960, more than a year ago, at a plenary meeting of the General Assembly:
For this reason, we are appealing to the good sense and the foresight of the peoples of the Western countries, to their Governments and representatives at this Assembly of the United Nations: let us agree on steps to liquidate the colonial system of government and so speed up this natural historical process; let us do everything to ensure that the peoples of the colonial and dependent countries attain equality of rights and become able to decide their own fate.
That was said last year. But what has Portugal done? What have the allies of Portugal done to accelerate that peaceful process as was proposed in the General Assembly? Nothing. Portugal categorically refused to enter into negotiations on any question including that of Angola and Goa, or any of its other colonies. It said that it regarded the question as entirely unlawful. What, then, are we to do? Are the peoples to remain forever under the heel of the Portuguese colonists? This has been so for 500 years, and you wish it to continue for another 500 ? Forgive me, but times have changed. The times have changed so much that the peoples are demanding to be freed if not today, tomorrow. And you will not hold back the people by any resolutions, any decisions, any attempts at devious compromises.
At that plenary meeting of the General Assembly Mr. Khrushchev went on to say:
Welcome the sacred struggle of the colonial peoples for their liberation. If the colonial Powers, instead of heeding the voice of reason, persist in their old colonial policy of keeping the colonial countries in subjection, the peoples which stand for the liquidation of the colonial regimes will have to give all possible help to those fighting for their independence against the colonialists and against colonial slavery. Moral, material and other assistance must be given so that the sacred and just struggle of the peoples for their independence can be brought to its conclusion.
That is why our attitude is one of sympathy with the people of India, the people of Goa. We appeal to the colonial Powers to listen to reason, we call on them to hasten the process of liberation of the colonial countries and peoples so as to avoid serious consequences in various territories where there are still millions of people suffering under colonial bondage.
Lastly, we must immediately cease all aid to Portugal and apply sanctions to it, as provided for in the United Nations Charter, in order to compel it to carry out immediately the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples with respect to those which are still under the heel of the Portuguese colonialists.
That is what the Security Council must do if it wishes to ensure peace and security in the various regions, including the region which we are at present considering. That is what we urge the Council to do.
The Soviet delegation had not intended to speak after the vote, since the whole meaning of the vote had been sufficiently explained in the preceding debate; but after the statement by the representative of the United States, who was fully supported by the representative of Portugal, I feel it necessary to say a few words.
The representative of the United States dramatically represented that today an act had been written of the drama, which might be the beginning of the end of the United Nations. In my view, this dramatic statement is completely out of keeping with the substance of the decision or decisions taken today in the Security Council. Today saw, not the beginning of the end of the United Nations, but the expression of the will to defend colonial countries and peoples and their right to life, freedom and independence. The fact that the Council rejected proposals aimed at supporting the colonial Powers, at supporting their colonial right to oppress, proves the merit of the Council, not its weakness.
If the United Nations does not defend the colonial countries and peoples, but tries to defend the colonial system and the most reactionary representatives of that system, then this indeed may mean the collapse of the United Nations, since at the present time and in the conditions of the twentieth century the United Nations can justify its existence primarily because it will be an organization defending the colonial countries and peoples and defending the small nations against the clonial Powers, which are trying by every means to maintain their domination, in territories that are still vast, over millions and tens of millions of people.
The fact that the United Nations at the fifteenth session of the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, and at the sixteenth session reaffirmed this Declaration and took a decision, calculated to accelerate the process of the liberation of colonial countries and peoples, places an obligation upon all United Nations organs to act in accordance with this decision, which is an expression of the spirit of our time. Anyone who does not understand this does not understand the essence of the tasks now facing the United Nations. The Soviet Union is proud that it did not allow the adoption of a resolution which in fact would have meant support of the colonial Powers and, above all, of a colonial Power such as Portugal, which, though a Member of the United Nations, is discrediting the Organization by its actions.
Those who defend Portugal are defending not the United Nations but colonialism, the most shameful phenomenon of the twentieth century, although dozens of times they may assert the contrary.
In our opinion, today’s meeting proves that it is now impossible to continue the old policy of oppressing the colonial countries and peoples and that it is time to pass on to a truly constructive policy of liberating them; in this matter, the United Nations should assist the colonial countries and peoples.
Today’s discussion has, I consider, helped the colonial countries and peoples that are fighting for their liberation. This is entirely in keeping with the purposes and principles which are set forth in the United Nations Charter and which the colonial Powers are trying to misinterpret in their own mercenary interests. We shall not condone such actions, and shall continue to defend the United Nations Charter and the principles, which, stemming from that Charter, are in line with the interests of millions of people throughout the world.