Comments and Observations on Proposals for a United Nations Security Council Resolution on Apartheid, 1963

These comments were probably sent by Oliver Tambo from New York in November 1963.

A. General

  1. The Security Council is at present seized of the question of apartheid, following its resolution of August 7th.arms, ammunition of all types and military vehicles to South Africa."'
  2. The Secretary-General, having reported in terms of that resolution, and in view of the worsening of the South African situation since the August meeting of the Security Council, a further meeting has now been requested for by the African States for the purpose of discussing and deciding on the question of apartheid in the light of the current situation in South Africa.
  3. The Security Council meeting is being convened against the background of the decisions of the Addis Ababa Summit Conference which gave expression to what has been termed the "spirit of Addis Ababa".request of this delegation.
  4. The meeting is also important as following closely on the General Assembly resolution of October 11th, which called for the abandonment of trials in South Africa.against. In defiance of the unanimous support for this resolution, the Pretoria trials are proceeding. Other sabotage trials have been started in other parts of South Africa, and in each case the accused are facing death sentences. Generally, the apartheid policies are being intensified.
  5. In these circumstances, both the discussions in and the resolutions of the Security Council meeting are expected by all opponents of apartheid, and particularly by the African people, to show that the Security Council takes a most serious view of the behaviour of the South African Government.

B. The Draft Resolution

  1. The Security Council should avoid repeating appeals to South Africa. The General Assembly has done this for more than a decade and in the result has encouraged South Africa to believe that it can, with impunity, ignore these appeals. The fact that South Africa has failed or ignored to carry out or comply with a decision of the Security Council should itself be an issue for consideration by the Security Council. The latter should not resort to merely taking the same decision once more. Certainly, South Africa should not be allowed to continue reducing the UN, including the Security Council, to a debating society and nothing more. A successive repetition of appeals by the Security Council would have precisely this effect.
  2. The production of a blueprint prescribing the mode of transition from apartheid to a nonracial society should be the responsibility of the South African people, save that the United Nations can place its services, including its expert advisers, at the disposal of the people or government of South Africa. Such services and such advice could only be furnished in furtherance of the aims of the Charter and the principles enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A declaration assuring South Africa of the United Nations' willingness to assist in the process of eliminating racial discrimination should suffice at this stage.
  3. The South African Government rejects the idea that there are any better experts than itself on the South African situation. It seems quite unwise to proceed on the basis that this Government needs expert advice as to an appropriate alternative to apartheid. It wants no alternative and will produce none until it finds itself unable to make headway with, or maintain itself in power on, apartheid. At best a committee of experts can only produce an opinion, which, as an opinion, stands little chance of being any more acceptable to South Africa than the world's unanimous condemnation of apartheid.
  4. The idea of a body of experts is born of the feeling that the white man's fears should be the achievement of that end." But the issue before the United Nations is not what is being done to the white man, but what the white man is doing to the African. The only complaint before the United Nations is that apartheid is an inhuman policy. There is no other problem. It is to this problem that the United Nations should devote its attention. It is only when South Africa's whites are becoming exposed to a possible danger that the United Nations would be justified in addressing itself to their complaints. At the moment, they do not even recognise the right of the United Nations to interfere in any way with what they are doing to the African people.
  5. More use should be made of the Special Committee on Apartheid if it is felt that there are any aspects of the situation which are still obscure, and on which information, including information in the form of expert opinion, is considered necessary.
  6. Nothing should be done to lift the pressures which have been built on South Africa and which offer the sole hope for any of the changes demanded of the South African Government. To allow or cause a relaxation of these pressures would be to undo the work of many years of devoted effort by enemies of apartheid the world over, and, not least, by the United Nations itself. The result would be to make it even more difficult for the UN to influence the South African situation in any way.
  7. The expression "positive alternative" suggests that the demand on South Africa to abandon apartheid and the action of governments taken in terms of [General Assembly] resolution 1761 or the independent action of the African States are "negative pressures" incapable of compelling the South African Government, of its own, to seek and find policies that are not abhorrent to the conscience of mankind.
  8. There is no balance between increase of pressures and the quest for "positive alternatives". In the terms of the resolution the UN directs its attention to an academic solution and all but abandons the pressures which would lend any relevance at all to these alternatives. In this respect the resolution fails to take into account the realities of the South African situation. In particular, it takes no account of the fact that this situation is deteriorating. What the resolution does therefore is precisely what South Africa's trading partners would have wanted to do: to focus attention on the "positive alternatives" and relegate the issue of the pressures, e.g. sanctions, to the background and in the process to undermine the efforts of countries which are rightly carrying out the terms and spirit of resolution 1761.
  9. By making every future consideration of the apartheid question dependent on steps to be taken by the Secretary-General and on the reports to be made to him, the draft resolution has taken the issue out of the competence of the General Assembly which is entitled to examine and discuss reports on its resolution 1761 and on subsequent resolutions, and to take appropriate decisions thereon.
  10. The Security Council resolution of August 7th, calling for an embargo on the supply of arms to South Africa, should not be regarded as calculated to induce a change on the part of the South African Government. It seeks to terminate the manifestly unethical practice of furnishing South Africa with the instruments for, and therefore of assisting in, the murder of its opponents. It does not operate to prevent the murders, much less the policy which must inevitably lead to such murders. Operative paragraph 4 of the draft resolution therefore does not touch the policy of apartheid as such and does nothing to weaken its foundation or even slow down its tempo.
  11. There has always been the fear on our part that of the two portions of the Nordic proposals, the first and more important might be shelved and the second given a dominant position to a degree which would make it practically impossible to discuss or decide on pressure, e.g., oil sanctions. The present draft resolution, having regard to operative paragraphs 4 and 5, does little to eliminate this fear.apply economic sanctions..."


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