Updated on 1 February 2015
Chapter 7: DECISIONS AND DOCUMENTS
Section 6: Decisions relating to UN membership
Adding to the record a failed 1974 proposal to expel South Africa pursuant to Article 6 of the UN Charter
Article 5 of the UN Charter provides that a Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Council. Article 6 provides that a UN Member which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the Charter may be expelled from the United Nations upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
On page 423 of the book, we stated that the Security Council had never discussed or recommended the suspension or expulsion of any UN Member State. In fact, in October 1974, Kenya, Mauritania, Cameroon and Iraq co-sponsored a draft resolution by which the Security Council would recommend to the General Assembly “the immediate expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations in compliance with Article 6 of the Charter” (S/11543). The draft was brought before the Security Council following the adoption by the General Assembly the previous month of resolution 3207 (XXIX). That resolution called upon the Council “to review the relationship between the United Nations and South Africa in the light of the constant violation by South Africa of the principles of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
At a series of successive Council meetings, thirty-eight countries spoke in support of expelling South Africa from the Organization. Some speakers argued that during the fifteen years the Security Council had been seized of the question of apartheid, South Africa had been implementing policies that were clearly incompatible with its obligations as a UN Member State. These policies, it was contended, included not only South Africa’s racial policies, but also its violation of Security Council resolutions relating to Namibia and Southern Rhodesia. Other speakers reasoned that expulsion pursuant to Article 6 was a measure of last resort, and that further interim steps should first be pursued. The importance of the principle of universality was also raised. On 30 October 1974, when the draft resolution was put to a vote, it received ten votes in favour, but was vetoed by France, the United Kingdom and the United States (S/PV.1808).