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

Cablegram UN1225 NEW YORK, 15 December 1947, 9.59 p.m.


Trusteeship 80.

Trusteeship Council met morning and afternoon Monday 15th December. Almost the whole of both meetings was occupied by consideration of report on New Guinea.

2. President introduced the agenda item by referring to statement by Minister for External Territories which forms preface to report emphasising special situation arising from war and rehabilitation and shortness of time for preparation of report. He suggested Council might wish to make general review at this part of the session and defer questions requiring further information until next part of this session.

3. Australian representative made opening statement drawing attention to several features of report showing that, despite difficulties mentioned, noteworthy beginning had been made not only with rehabilitation but with definition of policy and establishment of appropriate administrative measures and necessary factual surveys.

4. In closing portion of statement Australian representative referred to published announcement of decision to establish administrative union and indicated reasons. Subsequently made clear that this part of statement was for information of Council as a material fact subsequent to preparation of report and not as a matter for recommendation by Council.

5. Agreed to President's suggestion above as to procedure for consideration of report.

6. Representatives of China, United States, Mexico and France made inquiries on various matters such as training of natives at Suva Medical School, distinction between finances of Papua and New Guinea, indenture, education and Administrative Union. Some questions were answered immediately and on others it was undertaken that information would be made available (so far as possible) at second part of present session (probably mid- February). As list of questions is lengthy but no great present urgency involved we are awaiting verbatim record before sending precise list.

7. At close of discussion Council adopted interim resolution giving credit to Australia for presenting report in all the circumstances and seeing that further consideration would be given at second part of this session.

8. Greater part of discussion centred around question of Administrative Union. We had decided to inform Council at outset in view of likelihood of bad impression if decision to establish administrative union were to come to notice of Council only after report had been discussed. In any case comment on the point was to be expected in view of references in the report.

9. Chinese representative who showed much interest and concern made it clear that his questions and observations arose out of page 14 of the report i.e. were directed to principle of combined administration (as in Provisional arrangements). General question would therefore have arisen in this connection and anticipation of it was a favourable factor.

10. Belgium and France were helpful. United Kingdom officials privately admitted they are concerned as to bearing of whole question on Tanganyika and East African Territories. Berendsen privately, while admitting complete legal validity of Australian Government's decision, nevertheless felt doubts as to advisability.

11. Main Chinese objection was that sep[arate]ness [1] is necessary to ultimate achievement of political identity and self- government.

12. United States Representative suggested Australian Government might seek views of Trusteeship Council on plans for administrative union prior to implementation. Australia supported by Belgium and France questioned the propriety of such procedure which in their view contradicted essential concept of 'trusteeship'. Function of Trusteeship Council in view of these representatives was to review and supervise not to participate in administrative processes. American representative's point was not supported and does not find a place in interim resolution (above).

Discussion on this point however was not conclusive and we anticipate whole question will come up again in February.

13. Please give full study to verbatim record which will be sent by air as soon as available which we expect will be tomorrow.

Suggest consultation between Canberra, London and Wellington as to handling of question at next part of session. Loomes is fully conversant with discussion here and will be able to contribute on return.

14. Without anticipating your view personal position taken was that discussion of administrative union- (A) Should be specific i.e. should relate to a particular territory and thus arise out of action taken by the administering authority concerned and- (B) Should not be designed to direct the administering authority in advance as to implementation of its undertakings but should be by way of comment and review on measures adopted and action taken.

15. Council also considered resolution concerning Ewe [2] petitions (see our UN1220) and adopted this unanimously with minor verbal amendments including insertion of commendatory provision supported by New Zealand as to helpfulness of administering authorities.

1 A sign here indicates 'mutilated'.

2 The reference is to petitions from the Ewe people of British Togoland and French Togoland seeking integration of the territories. Integration was not to occur.

[AA : A1838, 306/2/1, i]