222 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN711 NEW YORK, 31 July 1947, 11.41 p.m.


Security 420.


1. At the outset of the meeting this afternoon we made short statement stressing the fact of hostilities, failure of mediation, need for urgency and desirability of avoiding long debate on procedure. We urged that the Indonesian question be taken under consideration immediately. We also expressed the view that the Council should proceed with its work without waiting for participation by one or more of Netherlands, Indonesia and India.

However, as Netherlands and India Representatives had invoked their right to participate and were in the Council Chamber we did not feel it advisable to press the view that discussion would not be related to dispute but only to hostilities.

2. Agenda with Australian and India[n] communications as first item was adopted without further debate and on Belgian motion Netherlands and India were invited to participate. We at once suggested that in view of this action invitation should be also sent to Indonesian Government to send a Representative as soon as possible. Van Kleffens questioned the right of Indonesia to participate on the ground that the Republic was not a sovereign State, only one state (like New South Wales) in a potential Federation.

3. At this stage India made a general statement supporting the course of action outlined in our communication to the Council [1] including the determination that hostilities constitute a breach of the peace. He agreed that merits could be debated later, meanwhile urgent task was to ensure cessation of hostilities.

4. We followed with detailed exposition of our case. This followed closely the lines of your telegrams 409 and 410 [2] but enlarged on the question of the status of the Republic in International Law to meet Van Kleffens' argument. We drew attention to- (a) installing of Cheribon Agreement, (b) Article 1 of Linggadjati Agreement, (c) de facto recognition by United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia and the Arab League, (d) de jure recognition by Syria, Egypt and Iraq, (e) treaties of friendship with Syria and Egypt.

We then formally introduced resolution [3] calling on Parties to cease hostilities and to arbitrate under Article 17. [4]

5. Syria supported our argument that Republic was clearly a State with authority in Java and Sumatra.

6. Colombia also stressed the urgent need for cessation of hostilities and suggested that decision by Council on our resolution would make invitation to Indonesia less necessary.

7. Lange kept debate moving in an attempt to reach decision without adjournment and Gromyko indicated that he would support at once resolution calling for cessation of hostilities although he considered the question of arbitration needed further study. He wished to hear more of the situation in Indonesia and thought some country must have an interest in not studying the question in detail.

8. China strongly supported our resolution but suggested 'settlement by other peaceful means' as an alternative to arbitration.

9. France urged delay to enable further study.

10. We accepted this and pressed for a vote at least on cessation of hostilities. It was doubtful, however, whether we would have a majority on the whole resolution.

It was clear that France and Belgium would abstain and also United Kingdom whose instructions are not to contest Netherlands argument that this is a matter of domestic jurisdiction. United States (and consequently Brazil) were not prepared to accept resolution on the ground that it was a judgment against the Netherlands.

11. As we had exhausted immediate avenues of securing immediate majority we were forced to accept decision to adjourn until tomorrow morning after general statement by Van Kleffens again attacking jurisdiction of Council and alleging Indonesian atrocities and inability to implement Agreement. [5]

12. Position as we see it is as follows:-

(A) We have got off to a good start. Meeting was held 24 hours after our communication was lodged which is a record for the Security Council. Our letter has top priority on the Council Agenda. Our resolution is the only resolution before the Council.

We have secured firm support of six Members and indications are that we shall have excellent press publicity.

(B) On the other hand we are still one short of a majority and announcement by Van Kleffens today that Netherlands is willing to accept Arbitration [6] and an International Committee of Enquiry [7] has had some effect.

(C) It is likely that tomorrow may be the last chance for quick action. United States and Greek lobbyists are active to bring Balkans issue back for discussion. We may be faced with decision whether to adhere to our resolution as it stands and trust to activity tomorrow to pick up another vote, e.g. Brazil or whether to accept some modification to secure United States and United Kingdom support.

(D) Johnson called tonight after consultation with Washington and said United States Government was just as concerned as we were to ensure cessation of hostilities and to get the Parties to negotiate. United States was worried, however, at the possible far-reaching effects of our juridical interpretation. France and United Kingdom were similarly concerned and were even more closely affected. United States would therefore prefer to have resolution similar to ours but eliminating reference to Articles 39 and 40.

They would be prepared to include statement that Council recognised situation as a breach of the peace, and calling on parties to cease hostilities and to enter into negotiations for peaceful settlement.

1 See Document 196.

2 Documents 200 and 201.

3 The text of the Australian draft resolution is given in United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Second Year, No. 67, 171st Meeting, 31 July 1947, p. 1626.

4 Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement (see Appendix I).

5 The Linggadjati Agreement.

6 Van Kleffens did not announce that the Netherlands was prepared to accept 'arbitration'. Rather he said that if 'a helping hand of some friendly Power-for instance, of the United States of America- could be useful, we shall be only too glad to avail ourselves of it'. At noon on 31 July (Washington time), Van Kleffens had been informed by Lovett that the United States was prepared to offer its 'good offices' to help resolve difficulties concerning Indonesia. Johnson informed the Security Council of the United States' offer in the course of its meeting on the afternoon of 31 July.

7 Specifically Van Kleffens informed the Security Council that the Netherlands Government intended to invite 'a number of other Governments to send a representative to Indonesia, and not only to the Republic, but also to Eastern Indonesia and Borneo, with the request that, as honest men, they will report their findings to the world'.

[AA:A1838/274, 854/10/4, ii]