January 13

This Day in History

Cold War

Jan 13, 1950:

Soviets boycott United Nations Security Council

For the second time in a week, Jacob Malik, the Soviet representative to the United Nations, storms out of a meeting of the Security Council, this time in reaction to the defeat of his proposal to expel the Nationalist Chinese representative. At the same time, he announced the Soviet Union's intention to boycott further Security Council meetings.

Several days before the January 13 meeting, Malik walked out to show his displeasure over the United Nations' refusal to unseat the Nationalist Chinese delegation. The Soviet Union had recognized the communist People's Republic of China (PRC) as the true Chinese government, and wanted the PRC to replace the Nationalist Chinese delegation at the United Nations.

Malik returned on January 13, however, to vote on the Soviet resolution to expel Nationalist China. Six countries--the United States, Nationalist China, Cuba, Ecuador, Cuba, and Egypt--voted against the resolution, and three--the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and India--voted in favor of it. Malik immediately left the meeting, declaring that the United States was "encouraging lawlessness" by refusing to recognize the "illegal presence" of the Nationalist Chinese representatives. He concluded that "even the most convinced reactionaries" had to recognize the justness of the Soviet resolution, and he vowed that the Soviet Union would not be bound by any decisions made by the Security Council if the Nationalist Chinese representative remained. Hoping to forestall any future Security Council action, Malik announced that the Soviet Union would no longer attend its meetings. The remaining members of the Security Council decided to carry on despite the Soviet boycott.

In late June 1950, it became apparent that the Soviet action had backfired when the issue of North Korea's invasion of South Korea was brought before the Security Council. By June 27, the Security Council voted to invoke military action by the United Nations for the first time in the organization's history. The Soviets could have blocked the action in the Security Council, since the United States, Soviet Union, China, Britain, and France each had absolute veto power, but no Russian delegate was present. In just a short time, a multinational U.N. force arrived in South Korea and the grueling three-year Korean War was underway.

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