32 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 478 CANBERRA, 14 August 1947, 5.25 p.m.



In his reply to Watt, Vyshinski made it clear that he considered the proper function of the Security Council was to assign responsibility for the situation. It appears from the United States attitude that they have also accepted the view that Security Council should pass judgement upon the parties.

2. In our view there is no power under the Charter for the Security Council to determine the guilt or innocence of the parties to the dispute. Only in the application of enforcement measures would the Security Council be compelled to determine responsibility in order to decide against whom such measures should be taken. In all other cases the Council should restrict itself to recommending methods of adjustment under Article 36 or recommending terms of settlement under Article 37 without attempting to make a formal decision on the guilt of one or other of the parties, or in the case of action under Chapter VII, as in the Indonesian dispute, to deciding upon provisional measures to prevent an aggravation of the situation irrespective of the merits of the case.

3. In general, and particularly on the Greek complaint, we believe that agreement between the permanent members will be facilitated if the Security Council avoids discussions on the determination of guilt. By concentrating on the functions of conciliation, mutual recriminations by the parties should be minimised and the political interests of the permanent members will be less likely to intrude upon the work of the Council.

4. This view has already been accepted by Brazil and the delegates of Colombia, Belgium and France expressed similar opinions on the Balkans Commission.

5. if the attachment of responsibility is insisted upon in the Security Council you should put forward this point of view both in connection with the Greek complaint and as regards work of the Security Council.

[AA : A1838, 854/10/7, iii]