No. 583 NAI DFA 27/18

Draft statement by Seán Lester to a secret session of the League of Nations Council

Geneva, 22 October 1931

There is one point in connection with the procedure which has been followed in this case which I should like to refer to. Indeed I think it would be very undesirable from several points of view that there should be no expression of opinion while we are in such intimate contact. I am referring to the development of the process inaugurated when our distinguished President in September proposed, with the assent of the Council, to consult several of his colleagues.

I should feel ungracious, as well as ungrateful, for their consistent courtesy towards every member of the Council if I thought my remarks could be interpreted as personal criticism of either Mr. Lerroux or of you, Mr. President.

It is in the most objective way and because I am sincerely convinced that I am serving the Council and the League, that I venture to speak on the matter.

Mr. President, comment has been made on the fact that the representatives first consulted were exclusively those representing Permanent members. The result was that during a very critical period of the dispute the non-permanent members participated only in public meetings of the Council. I am not to be understood as raising any question as to the desirability or otherwise of a Council Committee in certain circumstances, but a committee which includes all the Permanent and excludes representatives of the non-permanent members creates a breach in the Council which is not in accord with the spirit of equality in this remarkable international organisation.

It is not a question, Mr. President, of what the Committee would have gained or lost by having been made a mixed committee. The permanent members have worldwide national interests and are sometimes better informed than some of the non-permanent members. But even that might be regarded as another argument against a recurrence of this division of the Council into two classes of members. And, moreover, the members elected by the Assembly have, I think, a special mandate from the Assembly.

No comment has hitherto been made on this procedure as it was not desired to introduce even the shadow of disagreement on a secondary question when the major issues were still at stake.

My object in now referring to the matter in this brief way is only that the procedure would not be regarded as constituting a precedent and I should be perfectly satisfied if you, Mr. President, would ask the Secretary-General to make a suitable record for reference in the future.

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