64 Australian Government to Noel-Baker

Cablegram 287 CANBERRA, 31 October 1947

SECRET

Your telegram D.517 Saving. International Meetings.

As you know we fully appreciate the dollar and manpower difficulties involved in this matter and we entirely agree that only those international meetings should be held which are important from the point of view of achieving world security or economic and social reconstruction.

2. Accordingly we support your proposal to postpone Items 7 to 14 [1], inclusive, except perhaps item9 [2], and for the reduction from three meetings to two meetings in the case of Items 1 and 2 [3]

3. With regard to Items 3-6 inclusive [4], however, we feel that your proposed reductions would detract from the efficient working of the United Nations-an objective on which we place over-riding importance. The Economic and Social Council will be quite unable to function as intended unless it has before it reports from its more important commissions. If none of the commissions is to meet more than once a year there will be little point, unless the Secretariat is expanded and works much more efficiently, in the Council itself meeting more than once. Moreover the direction of the work of the Secretariat will suffer. A reduction of commission work would only seem possible if the Council itself assumed responsibility for such work and met during much longer session if not continuously.

4. For the time being at any rate we are committed to every endeavour to make the United Nations work, and its cost is a relatively very small investment. You will already know that the reaction of the Soviet Union to the United Kingdom proposal that those who are prepared to support an increased Budget should pay for it, has been their refusal to contemplate sharing the cost of the new Balkans Commission. This sort of precedent we regard as most unfortunate. Indeed it is in direct breach of Article 17 of the Charter.

5. We would appreciate further consideration being given to the proposals to cut down the work of the Organization in respect of Items 3 to 6, inclusive. [5]

6. We are in entire agreement with your paragraph 3. [6]

1 Eight minor conferences and meetings scheduled for 1948.

2 World Conference of Passport and Frontier Formalities.

3 The Economic Commission for Europe and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.

4 One meeting per year instead of two was proposed in respect of the following Commissions: Social; Human Rights; Economic and Employment; and Transport and Communications.

5 Noel-Baker replied maintaining his views on the grounds that fewer meetings allowed more time for study by experts and for preparation by governments and secretariat. Cablegram 238, dispatched 12 November.

6 A proposal that, where appropriate, conferences be held outside hard currency countries.

[AA : A1068, ER47/3/24]