55 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 191 CANBERRA, 26 March 1947, 10.30 p.m.


Your Security 319 and 321.

1. If the United Kingdom or any other country is implying that a reduction in armaments depends firstly on the re-establishment of international confidence such a truism is no ground for decision.

A positive approach should be adopted and it should be made clear that the obligations on all members of the United Nations which will be involved in a disarmament plan should be sufficient for the successful implementation of the scheme. Disarmament cannot proceed unilaterally.

2. One primary factor on which all planning must be founded is the implementation of Articles 43 and 53, while due consideration must be given to the inherent right of self-defence under Article 51.

The Military Staff Committee should, therefore, be directed to proceed with and finalise proposals in terms of these articles as a matter of urgency.

3. Concurrently with the examinations of the Military Staff Committee the[Disarmament] Commission should continue its enquiries by establishing two committees. One should give consideration to the general principles governing a reduction in armed forces. Past experience and international agreements would provide guidance concerning possible reductions in arms. The other should examine forthwith the problems involved in an effective control system which is an essential part of any scheme. Such system should be able to detect and prevent breaches of agreed restrictions which should be uniformly applicable to all members of the United Nations.

4. The final task of the Commission should be the drafting of an international convention or treaty to be submitted to the Council or Assembly for approval and subsequent implementation.

5. A positive duty is imposed to deal with these subjects.

Australia as chairman should play a waiting game but always oppose mere delay and/or obstruction. So much we are bound to do in fulfilment of resolution of Assembly.

6. Please telegraph proposed remarks so that they can be approved in principle before speeches delivered.

[AA : 1838, 854/12, i]