97 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 14 [1] CANBERRA, 11 January 1943

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your telegram[s] No. 4 and D.14. [2] Colonies.

1. We have noted the terms of revised draft text in your D.14.

Although text is in form of a draft declaration we assume that it is not intended that Halifax should present it to Hull as such, but rather that it should serve as general guidance to Halifax in his conversations. 2. In these circumstances we have no comment to make on the draft at the moment beyond the following, which sums up our views:

(a) Draft as it stands might be held to amount to requiring an absolute return to the status quo as regards sovereignty and administrative control and might thus be regarded by other colonial powers as guarantee against any change whatsoever.

Clearly in South-East Asia area changes might be found to be desirable. For this reason Commonwealth Government would like to make it clear that the draft could not be regarded as definitive in respect of South-East Asia region.

(b) We maintain that some provision for the accountability of all trustee States to some international body is both practicable and essential if trusteeship is to be a reality. Our feeling is that general declaration to the world of mere acceptance of the principle of trusteeship will not be regarded as sufficient to establish responsibility. We think it of the first importance to devise principle of accountability in regard to obligations and at the least, in default of some general international body, we desire to see this included as one of the functions of the proposed regional commissions. Views of Canadian Government [3] impliedly support us in this conviction, and carried to a logical conclusion it is implicit in your own draft declaration.

1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington as no. 5 and to the Canadian, N.Z. and South African Prime Ministers as no 2, 8 and 9 respectively.

2 Documents 95-6.

3 Conveyed to the Commonwealth Govt in Bruce's cablegram 3[A] of 7 January (on file AA:A989, 43/735/1021).

[AA:A989, 43/735/1021]