On 'peaceful change'.
The subject of peaceful change has always been central to any consideration of international affairs. In fact it is almost 'the' problem of international relations, for it is always the lack of agreement on some method of peaceful change that ultimately leads to conflict among nations. The importance of the problem was recognised by the framers of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. After both great wars the imperfections of the world were recognised and so it was felt necessary to provide 'an instrumentality for peaceful change'.
Article 19 of the Covenant of the League of Nations stated that 'the Assembly may from time to time advise .... the consideration of international conditions whose continuance might endanger the peace of the world'. Presently the charter of the U.N. contains two provisions for making peaceful change possible. Article 10 states that 'the General Assembly may discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present charter .... and .... may make recommendations to the members of the U.N. or the security council or to both on any such questions and matters'. Further article 14 states 'subject to the provisions of Article 12, the General Assembly may recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation, regardless of origin, which it deems likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations, including situations resulting from a violation of the provisions of the present charter setting forth the purposes and principles of the U.N.' The above provisions show us that peace depends on the ability and willingness of nations, and the international organisations set up by them, to resolve questions and situations of potential danger. In the inter-war period the League could do nothing under article 19. And as we know now, besides the fact that from 1933 onwards Hitler was simply bent on war, the twenty years from 1919 to 1939 were not really a period of peace, but one full of friction and conflict. The lessons of that period and of the second world war should be enough to make the nations more ready to make changes that will ensure peace.
We must bear in mind, always, that peaceful change does not mean only that specific disputes between states should be solved by pacific methods, it also means the adjustment of dangerous situations. For example the general problem of colonialism, so far as present international law is concerned, is not a dispute between two parties that can be resolved in a court or by arbitration. Yet the gradual liquidation of colonial empires, though not yet complete, has been one of the strongest factors making for peace, for only free and equal people can co-exist in peace. The opposition of the colonialists to this inevitable change sometimes led to conflict, a further indication of the dangers of preventing peaceful change. But just because colonial empires are crumbling that does not mean that peace is no longer in danger. True that only a conflict involving the Great Powers will lead to a general conflagration, but to-day even the most casual observer can see how easy it is for the Great Powers to get involved. And on the other hand so long as the rights of human beings and of nations are violated peace is still in danger.
Today the world has a number of situations which are clearly likely to 'impair the friendly relations among nations', and their continuation is definitely a violation of the purposes and principles of the charter. Examples of these are many today. To mention some one can sight the Congo, Cuba, Algeria, South Africa and Kurdistan. There are of course, other and more dangerous issues in the world, but the peaceful resolution of any one problem will mean so much less danger and a less tense atmosphere. These cases are not exactly similar, but they are all topical problems that need a change to the better if an explosion is to be avoided. The Belgian conspiracy on the Republic of Congo, the American pressure on the Cuban Republic, the war in Algeria, are all cases of the defenders of a dangerous status quo trying hard to prevent a change that will strengthen world stability and peace. The cases of the African population of South Africa and the Kurdish People in Turkey, Iran and Syria are somewhat different, but nevertheless definitely of potential danger. In South Africa the rightful population, and the preponderant majority are denied every right and savagely treated. If this continues the Africans will have to seek some way, even a violent way, of changing it. In Iran, Turkey and Syria over 10 million Kurds (6 in Turkey, 4 in Iran and 400,000 in Syria), occupying their own country Kurdistan, are also denied every right and persecuted. The importance of the 'Kurdish question' is not new. In 1920 the Allied Powers did see an abnormal situation in the Middle East regarding the Kurds. Hence the provision in the treaty of Sevres of that year that the Kurds have autonomy, with the right of independence within one year. And further the abnormality of the situation was recognised by the League Commission, instituted by the Council resolution of September 30th, 1924, to study the question of ...