112 Beasley to Evatt

Cablegram PC40 PARIS, 10 September 1946, 3.37 p.m.


For some time past there has been consultation between Members of the British Commonwealth group particularly between ourselves and South Africa with regard to Article 17 of the Italian Treaty relating to the Colonies. [1] At first it was thought that it might be possible to present one agreed amendment on behalf of South Africa and Australia but over the week-end there has been a considerable change in the views of Field Marshal Smuts and a strengthening of the original views of the United Kingdom Delegation.

2. Two things have led to this. The first is a verbal report made by the present Military Administrator of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania which has convinced the Field Marshal and Mr. Bevin and Mr. Alexander that the Arab inhabitants of these countries, if left to themselves, will almost certainly express a strong wish- (A) for independence.

(B) for close association with and assistance from the United Kingdom.

3. The second factor is that a counting of heads in the Conference here in Paris has led the two Delegations to doubt the possibility of obtaining even a simple, let alone a 2/3rd majority in favour of a solution satisfactory to us if the question has eventually to be referred to the 21 states but they a-re beginning to believe that it would be possible with the reports they expect to be able to put forward from North Africa to obtain a satisfactory decision in the Assembly of the United Nations should the matter be referred there.

4. The Field Marshal has now decided to withdraw the South African amendment [2] and I think we have to consider seriously, in the light of these developments, policy with regard to our own amendments. [3] There is now considerable support in the British Commonwealth group for adopting the amendment as it stands in the Foreign Ministers' Draft by either writing into it or more likely attaching as an annexure the contents of the Joint Declaration [4] of the sponsoring Governments which, as you are aware is not included in the Article as drafted. This would make it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the decision is to be in conformity with the wishes of the inhabitants and arrived at after consultation with the States which were actively engaged in the carrying on of the war.

5. I continue to share your dislike of possible reference of the matter to the United Nations but in the light of the discussion here I do feel almost as anxious about the decision the 21 might take a year hence and I am inclined to think that we might feel more confident about the achievement of our ultimate ends if we worked for the immediate amendment of the present Text by writing the safeguards into it rather than by proposing a new procedure.

We will not reach the Article before next week but I would like your views as soon as possible or an opportunity of discussing the matter with you on the telephone.

1 Article 17 of the draft treaty had Italy renounce title to all its African colonies, leaving their disposition jointly to the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and France.

2 South Africa had proposed that, in disposing of Italian colonies, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and France should consider the wishes of their inhabitants and consult both states which had contributed to their liberation and states which declared an interest; if 'The Four' should fail to agree, the issue should be referred to the U.N. General Assembly.

3 Australia proposed that disposition of Italian colonies should be placed in the hands not just of 'The Four' but of a committee comprising 'The Four' plus three other states chosen by the peace conference; if the committee failed to agree, the issue should be returned to a meeting of the twenty-one states represented in Paris.

4 'The Four' declared that they would take into account the wishes and welfare of inhabitants in disposing of Italian colonies as well as the views of other interested states; if 'The Four' failed to agree within a year, the issue would be referred to the U.N.

General Assembly.

[AA:A1067, E46/38/14]