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United Nations General Assembly

30 November 1953

By: Dr. Matthew Barrett

Matthew Barrett

Graphic Illustrator

Matthew Barrett is an illustrator and historian who specializes in the creation of graphic histories and comics that visualize fascinating stories of the past. He received a PhD in history from Queen’s University and was a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Canadian War Museum. He is the author of Scandalous Conduct: Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914–45, and is the co-author and illustrator of Through Their Eyes: A Graphic History of Hill 70 and the First World War.

On 3 December 1953, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution expressing “grave concern at reports and information that North Korean and Chinese Communist forces have, in a large number of instances, employed inhuman practices against the heroic soldiers of forces under the United Nations Command in Korea and against the civilian population of Korea.” The 30 November debate had been contentious with the Soviet Union objecting to the claims as exaggerated or faked. The American delegation, however, presented evidence of Geneva Convention violations committed by Communist forces.

Before the debate, Canadian External Affairs reviewed Alcide Côté’s prepared remarks and had objected to the passage referring to civilian warfare. During the Korean War, UN Command had devastated North Korea with incendiary bombs and napalm, contributing to the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of people in the country. Although External Affairs argued, according to the UN record, that even alluding to civilian suffering would aid Communist propaganda, Côté delivered the speech in full.