Hugh Gaitskell called upon the Great Powers last night to lend active support to the United Nations, which he believes despite its shortcomings can assume a vital role in preserving world peace.
In the first of his three Godkin Lectures, he said, "I believe that the U.N. with all its weaknesses can play an important part in meeting the challenge of co-existence," and "it is the special responsibility of the Great Powers who believe in the U.N. Charter to give the necessary leadership."
Gaitskell outlined six reasons why he felt the U.N. was necessary to help retain peace in a world that is co-exisiting at the present time with the Soviet bloc on one hand, and the West on the other, with the "uncommitted" countries in the middle. But he also dwelled for much of the speech on the weaknesses of the U.N., because:
"I am convinced that one of the dangers in the present situation is the existence of illusions and misunderstandings on the subject. If public opinion in the democratic countries is led to expect that the U.N. can do things which it subsequently fails to do, there well may be a sharp reaction against the whole idea of a system of international law and order.
U.N. Needs Leadership
"Moreover, we must especially combat the notion that the U.N. is in some mysterious way a thing apart and different from nations which compose it, on which everyone proceeds to rely. This fallacy is of course associated with the idea that it is like an ordinary government. It is a dangerous fallacy because it obscures the need for active leadership within the United Nations."
In his support of the U.N., the leader of the British Labor Party said:
(1) "I believe that a code of conduct between nations is in itself important. In time, the existence of this code does begin to affect public opinion and public opinion in its turn has an influence upon the behaviour of governments."
(2) "The United Nations Assembly can at least express world opinion, provided, of course, this is sufficiently clearly shown by very large majorities. Without such an Assembly to show, by overwhelming votes, what different countries think the picture would be much more confused than it is today. The resolutions of the Assembly therefore have an impact." He pointed to the Assembly's denunciation of Russia as hurting Soviet prestige everywhere.
(3)The existence of a "floating vote" of uncommitted countries keeps a healthy balance between the two great blocs and it is "particularly sensitive on colonial issues."
'Concert of Powers'
(4) "Even if the notion of a world authority is still very remote, it may well be that the much less ambitious conception of a concert of powers, of the great powers of the world, being prepared to sit around the table and seek compromise solutions for all the disputes and difficulties that arise, will emerge again."
(5) "It is well to have some institution where the countries of both blocs can come together, can get used to talking to each other and to seeing each other, and perhaps begin from that to understand each other."
(6) "The United Nations can sometimes provide a bit of machinery, an international device for settling difficult issues which simply by reason of the fact that it inheres in and belongs to the United Nations has special advantages." He used the international force in the Middle East as an example of this.
Toward the end of the speech, he proposed that ultimately, votes in the U.N. be given on a basis of population, "one vote for one man." This point, as well as his suggestion to include Red China in the U.N., was challenged by William Y.
Mr. Gaitskell will give his second speech in Sanders Theater tonight at 8 p.m. on regional problems in Europe, including NATO, as they reflect the over-all problem of "co-existence." Elliott, Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science.
Elliot asked him on the latter issue if he didn't believe that Red China should be excluded on moral grounds. Gaitskell replied, "Then do you propose getting rid of the Soviet Union?"
Elliot replied by asking Gaitskell if he had not heard of clubs which failed to oust objectionable members, but which neverthless "blackballed" new applicants.
Gaitskell replied to the delight of the audience, "I haven't had much experience with clubs outside of the House of Commons." He went on to say that his fundamental premise in discussing ther U.N. was that "university of membership" should be the proper goal