244 Cabinet Submission by Evatt

Agendum 1294 CANBERRA, [5 February 1947]


1. The signature of the above-mentioned treaties will take place in Paris at 4.00 p.m. on 10th February, 1947. The Australian Government has been invited by the French Government, acting on behalf of the Council of Foreign Ministers, to send representatives to sign the treaties on this date.

2. Australia's fundamental long-term interest in Europe is a durable over-all peace. Judged as a contribution to this end the treaties cannot be regarded as adequate. Many problems, such as frontier adjustments and, in particular, reparations, have been solved on the basis of expediency and without regard to basic principles or to the effect of the solutions on Europe as a whole.

Moreover, no provision has been made for reviewing any provisions of the treaties which experience may prove to have been erroneous.

At the Paris Conference the Australian Delegation submitted a number of proposals designed to eliminate these weaknesses.

Because the powers of the Conference freely to amend the treaties was fettered some of these proposals could not be considered on their merits. A summary of the Australian proposals and their consideration by the Paris Conference is in Appendix A. [1]

3. The method of preparing the treaties was also unsatisfactory.

It denied to those nations which took an active part in the war a full share in framing the peace. The initial drafts of the treaties were prepared exclusively by the Council of Foreign Ministers. Those drafts were then considered at the Paris Conference by all effective belligerents, but only under conditions which prohibited the right of full and free amendment.

Such recommendations as were made by the conference were subject to final review and, in many cases, alteration by the Council of Foreign Ministers. A summary of the final decisions of the Council of Foreign Ministers on the major recommendations of the Conference is attached as Appendix 'B' [2]

4. At Paris, the Australian Delegation made a strong fight in favour of the right of small belligerents to fuller participation.

Such a stand was necessary to ensure that Australia would have a full voice in the more important settlements with Germany and Japan. It might of course be argued that, by signing the treaty, Australia would accept the procedure used at Paris, and thus weaken her case for fuller participation in later settlements, although our right to participate as a principal in the negotiations for the Japanese settlement is indispensable.

However, it has been made clear to me by the United States Government in relation to the Japanese settlement that:

'the United States hopes and desires that in the formulation of the peace treaty with Japan Australia will participate on a full and equal basis.' 5. Signature of the treaties will involve recognition of the Governments of all five ex-enemy states.

6. In the Declaration of January 1st, 1942, to which Australia was a signatory, the United Nations undertook not to conclude a separate armistice or peace with the enemy.

7. In general, the treaties adequately safeguard Australia's short-term interests. A summary of the major provisions affecting Australia is attached (Appendix 'C'). [3] 8. Signature of the treaties will bring to an end the state of war existing between Australia and the five ex-enemy states, and will help to restore normal relations.

9. The question of whether Australia should sign the peace treaties is submitted for decision by Cabinet. I recommend that the treaties be signed. [4]

1 Not published. For documentation of Australia's participation, see under 'Paris Peace Conference' in subject index to Volume X.

2 Not published.

3 Not published.

4 Cabinet approved the recommendation.

[AA: A2700, VOL. 31]