Membership - Withdrawal from membership





While the Covenant of the League of Nations contained provisions for the legal withdrawal of members, the UN Charter deliberately omits all reference to the subject. The majority feeling at the San Francisco Conference was that provisions for withdrawal would be contrary to the principle of universality and might provide a loophole for members seeking to evade their obligations under the Charter.

Thus, when the first—and so far the only—case of withdrawal arose, the procedure had to be improvised. On 1 January 1965, Indonesia, which then was pursuing a policy of confrontation against the newly formed Federation of Malaysia, announced that it would withdraw from the UN and its related agencies if Malaysia were to take its elected seat on the Security Council. Three weeks later, Indonesia's foreign minister officially confirmed withdrawal in a letter to the Secretary-General, who, after consultations with the Indonesian mission to the UN, merely noted the decision and expressed hope that Indonesia would in due time "resume full cooperation" with the world body. Following a coup later in 1965, Indonesia sent a telegram to the Secretary-General, just before the opening of the 1966 General Assembly session, announcing its decision to "resume full cooperation with the UN and to resume participation in its activities."

Arrangements were made to ensure that Indonesia's reentry would take place with minimum formality. Hence, it was decided that Indonesia need not make a formal reapplication via the Security Council but that the matter could be handled directly by the General Assembly. Citing the telegram as evidence that Indonesia regarded its absence from the UN as a "cessation of cooperation" rather than an actual withdrawal, the General Assembly's president recommended that the administrative procedure for reinstating Indonesia could be taken. No objections were raised, and Indonesia was immediately invited to resume its seat in the General Assembly. In short, the problems raised by the first case of withdrawal from the UN were solved by treating it as if it had not been a matter of withdrawal at all.

Although South Africa withdrew from three of the UN's related agencies—UNESCO, FAO, and the ILO—because of the antiapartheid sentiments of their members, it did not withdraw from the UN itself, despite numerous General Assembly resolutions condemning apartheid and recommending stringent sanctions. South Africa rejoined UNESCO and the ILO in the late 1990s.

User Contributions:

William Brazzel
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Nov 2, 2014 @ 10:10 am
What would be the formal procedure for the United States to actually withdraw from The United Nations? Would the 50 states be required to ratify our withdrawal along with passing a bill through the federal congress and signed by the President?

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