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

Cablegram UN1041 NEW YORK, 28 October 1947, 6.33 p.m.


The following is the text of Dr. Evatt's statement to Committee 1[1] today:-

The future of Korea is a matter of concern to the Japanese settlement affecting both East Asia and the Pacific. Korea became part of the Empire of Japan after its annexation in 1910, and legally Japan will retain sovereignty until she formally cedes it in Peace Treaty. The question before the Committee is whether the United Nations should itself take the initiative in establishing a Korean Government.

The broad pattern of Korea's future has been planned by various Allied declarations. The Cairo Declaration stated that 'in due course Korea shall become free and independent.' This was confirmed in the Potsdam Declaration which was accepted by Japan when she signed the terms of surrender. The Moscow Conference of December 1945 went further, and set out concrete steps to be taken to achieve Korean independence. A joint commission of the United States and U.S.S.R. representatives was to assist in the establishment of a provisional Korean Government and submit proposals to the Governments of the United States of America, U.S.S.R., China and the United Kingdom for the establishment of such a Government and for placing Korea under a Four Power Trusteeship for a period of up to five years.

Australia's interest in Korea is twofold- (1) Australia's armies played a major part in the defeat of Japan, fighting in numerous areas from December 1941 until the final surrender of Japan.

(2) The Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy took part in action on nearly all fronts against the Japanese.

She gave big supplies of food, munitions, and war materials for her own use and that of her Allies. The magnitude of her war effort entitles Australia to be regarded as a party principal in the Japanese Peace Settlement, and in any preliminary negotiations such as those concerning the future of Korea. Australian and other British Commonwealth Forces are still in Japan under the able leadership of General Macarthur, who is Supreme Commander, and where American Forces constitute the main element of his Command.

The Soviet Representative at the Plenary Assembly argued that Article 107 of the Charter completely bars the United Nations from considering Korea. That is a misreading of the Article. It is true that the Charter contemplated that Peace Settlements would be made outside the Organization. In spite of that the United Nations is not debarred from considering situations arising from settlements or from failure to make them.

However, there are two working rules which this Assembly should recognize if its prestige is to be maintained.

1. The Assembly of the United Nations should not undertake any arrangements that it cannot fulfil efficiently.

2. The Assembly of the United Nations should not, except as a last resort, intervene in relation to matters which are likely to constitute an integral part of the Peace Settlement.

When the Charter was drafted, the San Francisco Conference did not foresee long delay that would occur in signing the treaties of peace. This delay and absence of settlements with major enemy powers is a severe impediment to the work of the United Nations, because neither European nor Eastern Asian regions can begin longterm planning on any sound basis until the political and economic conditions of peace settlements have been laid down.

I agree with the Soviet Representative that agreement along the lines of the Moscow Declaration would have been desirable. Two powers have now had nearly two years to carry out in agreement the duties imposed on them by the Declaration, and if agreement could not be reached in that time, it is unlikely that further recourse to the same procedure would be successful.

The logical place for the next step to begin is the Japanese Peace Conference where representatives of all the powers which made a direct contribution towards Pacific victory would be represented.

But I suggest conversations at once-here and now-between the two countries now in control in Korea. If, neither of these courses is immediately practicable, Australia would not oppose the establishment of a United Nations Commission for Korea. [2]

The membership of the Commission should primarily be contributed from those powers which made a direct contribution towards Pacific victory. Such a Commission could and should be regarded as a preliminary part of the entire Japanese Peace Settlement, the actual ceding of sovereignty being left to the Peace Treaty.

Australia desires a settlement in Korea that will be in the interests of Korean people and will help to establish the basis of a just and lasting peace in this region of Asia. The new Korean State should be established in such a way as to promote a growth of democracy in that country and allow her to achieve sound economic, political, and social development in peaceful association with all her neighbours and the rest of the world.

What should this Committee do? 1. We should request the Powers interested, especially the United States of America and U.S.S.R. to begin immediate conversations, here and now, at the United Nations, with a view to an agreed settlement.

2. If it appears that the course I suggest is impossible and if the Peace Conference cannot be convened very promptly, I will support the United States of America proposal in principle.

3 . As to the composition of the Commission and its precise powers and duties, I reserve my right of further analysis.

1 That is, the Political and Security Committee of the UN General Assembly, a committee of 'the whole'.

2 A course favoured by the United States.

[AA : A1838, 539/1/1]