Longest Speech in UN by V.K. Krishna Menon
Venue: United Nations Security Council
Date: 23 January 1957
The speech being unusually too long (160 pages of pure bliss) is not being reproduced in toto though the complete speech can be read here.
Menon was replying to a letter on Kashmir addressed to the UN Security Council by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan on 2 January 1957. The Pakistan Minister had also made a statement to the UN on 16 January.
During the marathon speech where he spoke for 7 hours and 48 minutes to be precise, Menon collapsed midway and had to be hospitalised. But he returned after a while and continued his blast on Pakistan claims for another hour
Excerpts from the speech are reproduced below:
Why is that we have never heard voices in connection with the freedom of people under the suppression and tyranny of Pakistani authorities on the other side of the cease-fire line? Why is it that we have not heard here that in ten years these people have not seen a ballot paper? With what voice can either the Security Council or anyone coming before it demand a plebiscite for a people on our side who exercise franchise, who have freedom of speech, who function under a hundred local bodies?
“The Security Council regards this as a dispute. It is not a dispute for territory. There is only one problem before you… that problem is the problem of aggression.”
The Government of India here is not in the dock. We came here as complainants. A distinguished colleague of ours appears to have mentioned this today: why should we be so much on the defence? If it sounds to people that we are on the defence, it may be because we indulged in some understatements both in the past and in the present. We are here not in order to ask for condemnation of anybody, but we are here in order to state what are our rights under the Charter. Have we the right for the security of our territory? Have we the right to be free from threat? Have we the right to feel assured that the machinery of the Security Council and its resolutions are not going to be used as a smokescreen for the preparation of aggression against us? Have we the right so far as the Council is concerned and I say that it cannot impose it- to live side by side with our neighbour, free from the threats of a holy war? Have we the right to enable our peoples, the great majority of whom are below subsistence levels, to devote their energies, their attention, our resources,our friendships, for their economic and political development?
Subhash Chakravarty, author of ‘VK Krishna Menon and the Indian League’ wrote the following for Krishna Menon.
“His five-hour speech on Kashmir followed by another two hours and 48 minutes the next day set up an all-time record in any international locution or UN declamation. He could be charming and conciliatory but if required he could move on to a prolonged vituperation against imperial hubris and great-power chauvinism and then switch over to an erudite philosophical and legalistic discourse”