43 Department of External Affairs to Kirby

Cablegram 60 CANBERRA, 6 February 1948, 2 p.m.


It seems to us strange that you and the rest of the Committee should be made the instrument of party politics at The Hague, and, in fact, it was unfortunate that there was any meeting with The Hague authorities. [1] You should appreciate that the present basis of agreement is so wholly favourable to the Dutch that actions by you of this nature will be badly interpreted both by Republicans and generally by the people of many nations who have watched with a good deal of interest Australia's attitude.

2. It is not necessary that you should at all times agree with the two other members of the Committee on a course of action, and it would have been preferable, if they had insisted, to have allowed them to send a message to The Hague on their own. There are vital outstanding matters still to be settled in Indonesia and, having gone so far from a political point of view in meeting Dutch demands, we should not compromise now on some of the requirements, particularly economic ones, which are fundamental to Republican existence.

3. It is true that the Committee of Good Offices has no precise powers, but the Committee is an agency of the United Nations and as such its recommendations should be accepted. An Assembly recommendation is not necessarily binding on a Government but the whole prestige of the United Nations depends upon each Government giving effect to its majority decisions. In the same way, the parties to the dispute were expected by us to accept as binding recommendations of the Committee of Good Offices, and to that extent, the Committee had wide powers. It is failure by one of the parties to do this and the Committee's willingness to accept compromise which has led to a situation which cannot be regarded as satisfactory from the point of view of a long-term, peaceful settlement based on justice.

1 See Document 39, note 1.

[AA:A3196, 1948, 0.1745]