346 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 301 CANBERRA, 13 November 1944

SECRET IMMEDIATE

South Seas Regional Commission.

1. It will be recalled that in January last we raised [1] with you the question of the establishment of a South Seas Regional Commission when you intimated [2] your willingness to exchange views on the proposal and your desire that we should consult with you before approaching any other country. We have now given further consideration to Articles 30 and 31 of the Australian - New Zealand Agreement [3] and feel that immediate steps should be taken to establish the Commission. With this end in view we would appreciate an early expression of your views as to the general framework of the Commission and the manner and timing of an approach to the other Governments concerned.

2. Statements of the Colonial Secretary and discussion at the meeting of Prime Ministers [4] made it clear, we believe, that there is agreement on the general principles of regional commissions, namely, that they should be advisory bodies set up by the Governments with interests in the region as Colonel Stanley stated to 'provide effective and permanent machinery for consultation and collaboration so that the States concerned might work together to promote the well-being of the Colonial territories'. As advisory welfare bodies they would have no functions involving supervision or security.

3. We propose the Commission might take the following general form:

(a) The Commission proper consisting of representatives of the Governments and administrations in the Region;

(b) A Secretariat;

(c) Research and functional bodies established by the member Governments on the advice of the Commission.

Provision should be made for associating with the work of the Commission existing research and functional bodies. In appropriate cases the member Governments should nominate representatives of the native peoples to take part in the work of the Commission and its agencies. In addition, we consider that there should be held regularly a South Seas Conference for the discussion of Pacific Islands problems. This Conference might comprise nominees of Governments represented on the Commission (these nominees to represent administrations, scientific bodies, missionary bodies and native peoples) together with nominees of international organisations interested in South Seas affairs (e.g. the I.L.O.

and the Food and Agriculture Organisation).

4. These ideas are expressed in general terms as we desire to have the views of the United Kingdom Government on this proposal.

Nearly all of the region for which the Commission is proposed is now outside the area of military operations and we feel that much is to be gained politically as well as from the standpoint of native welfare by proceeding rapidly with the establishment of the Commission. We would consider early 1945 as a target date for the establishment of such a Commission and would welcome an expression of the views of the United Kingdom Government as a first step in convening a conference of interested countries.

1 See Document 32.

2 See Document 48.

3 Document 26.

4 In AA:A6712, 1944, Top Secret, PMM(44) 10th Meeting, 9 May 1944.

[AA:A1838, 342/1]