50 Evatt to Minter

Letter CANBERRA, 24 January 1946

I have the honour to refer to my note of 10th January [1] in regard to the invitation extended by your Government to the Australian Government to participate in the Far Eastern Commission on the basis of certain specified terms of reference which were agreed upon at Moscow by the inviting powers.

Our further consideration of the invitation has deepened the apprehension we feel in regard to the inclusion of the veto power in these terms of reference. The work of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission at Washington was characterised by the manner in which policy decisions were arrived at by the members as a result of full consultation of all the member countries which had participated actively in the war against Japan. This democratic procedure was followed so successfully that the representatives of ten [2] Nations reached in a comparatively short time substantial agreement on a statement of basic policy. The same spirit of co- operation was visible in the work of the Policy Committee, of which I was Chairman. We are anxious to be assured that full consideration will be given to the decisions already made.

The veto procedure is quite alien to a body which has to carry out an armistice, the principles of which have already been agreed upon. Indeed the retention of such a power could easily nullify much of the valuable work already performed by the Commission.

It is further pointed out that the U.S. and U.K. Governments were quite prepared to abandon the veto system and in several proposals put forward with their support there was no inclusion of an individual veto for any state or states.

The Australian Government is of the opinion that the nations invited to participate in the work of the Far Eastern Commission should be given an opportunity to discuss the terms of reference including the veto power at the next meeting of the Commission. In the meantime, it feels that the work of the Commission should continue on the understanding that the recommendations already made at Washington will be submitted for approval by the governments concerned.

My Government desires to point out that the implication of the veto provision is that in relation to the Pacific and South East Asia, Australia's status is to be regarded as in some way inferior to that of other powers. Australia is not only a member of the Security Council but its sustained and decisive contribution to victory against Japan-fully recognised by your Government-entitles it to be regarded as a party principal in all Pacific affairs. it is specially pointed out in relation to the United States that the President himself was good enough to assure me in relation to Pacific affairs that Australia's future relationships to the United States would be based on the principle of full and active partnership. The proposed veto is, in our view, quite inconsistent with such a relationship.


1 Document 18.

2 Although the Soviet Union was nominally a participant, it was not represented at any meetings of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission.

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