494 Hodgson to Department of External Affairs

PARIS, 29 December 1948 Cablegram 299

Security Council 29th December. [1]

Meeting opened with promised statement by Dutch, of which relevant passages are as follows:

1. Hostilities are in the course of being terminated. In any event hostilities in Java will, as far as the Netherlands are concerned, cease at the latest on 31st December at 2400 hours. With a view to the special emergency in Sumatra, the cessation of hostilities there cannot be effectuated Until 2 or 3 days later. It will of course remain necessary to act against disturbing elements who, either individually or collectively, endanger public security or interfere with or prevent the supply of food and other essential commodities to the needy population.

2. As the restriction of the freedom of movement of a number of prominent personalities was the inevitable consequence of military measures which were taken and which will now shortly come to an end, the Netherlands Government will thereupon lift this restriction, on the understanding that the persons concerned will refrain from activities endangering public security.

3. To further constructive co-operation in rebuilding the whole of Indonesia, the Netherlands Government has decided that the Prime Minister, Dr. Drees, will leave for Indonesia within a few days.

4. In order to assist in the carrying out of the request of the Security Council to be fully informed regarding the situation since 12 December, the Netherlands Government has already declared that all possible facilities will be granted to the military observers and their staff. The necessary facilities will also be given to the members of the Consular Committee.

United Kingdom hoped Dutch would press on to future without regard to unhappy past. UK would regard further resolutions on subject as harmful, especially in view of doubts as to competence of Council.

Council has behaved with impetuosity on matter and assumed too readily functions of court of summary justice. Council has desired to proceed too fast in view of complexities of matter. All colonial problems complex by their nature. Those who have the honour, the Soviet would say disgrace, to administer them know this. If necessary, the matter can be considered again in New York.

India and Syria both spoke along same lines to effect that termination of hostilities had nothing whatsoever to do with Council's order but was simply because Dutch were satisfied with military progress. Reference to 'disturbing elements' meant that Dutch would not even cease hostilities on dates mentioned. As to release of prisoners position equally unsatisfactory.

USSR claimed that Dutch action was that of aggressor flouting Council. All we were told was that they wanted a few more days completely to stifle the Republic. Council's orders had been unconditional and Dutch had chosen their own conditions. UK statement proved that it shielded the Netherlands. The responsibility for the position that had arisen lay squarely with US and UK majority. Members of Council must ask themselves whether to stop Dutch aggression or do nothing and thereby do serious harm to UN. Does majority now intend to take action? Netherlands expressed disappointment with reaction of Council and described Soviet criticisms as nothing but propaganda and distortion of facts. Van Royen claimed that never before had a state made such formal and binding statements as the Dutch had.

US said that question was not one of making statements but what they contained and it was clear that Dutch had not told Council that either of Council's requirements had been complied with. The Netherlands did realise seriousness of the matter by their reference to the intentions of the Dutch Prime Minister, but one could only regret that such action was not taken before armed force was used. No additional resolution was necessary to bring out the fact of non compliance. one read that the SC and UN had failed because of this but this was not necessarily so. The condition of the people in Indonesia would have been very different had not the Council dealt with it. If the matter were not on the agenda then Netherlands would not have sense of restraint. It was belief of the US that work of the Council had produced conditions which give the people of Indonesia real hope for the future. it was not always feasible to pass additional resolutions or to propose those which will not be passed. The case was not finished in the Council. The US would return in no despondent way armed with reports from GOC and Consular Commission and it was hoped from the Netherlands that it had been able to comply with the Council's wishes. Matter would be on agenda in January and Council could approach final solution from a further advanced base than now.

China did not think any useful purpose could be served by further consideration in Paris and reserved its position in full to Lake Success.

Hodgson said that his delegation had waited for positive proposals. The four permanent members had spoken without purpose.

The Dutch claimed that the Council had given no attention to positive points of compliance but there were and are none. Their statement was no more than the presentation of a fait accompli and by the time the Council took the matter up again in New York it would not only be fait accompli but complete liquidation of Republic. Was not point of cease-fire to preserve integrity and independence of Republic? Why then can party to whom order was addressed fail to comply until he has finished his military operations? It was not a case of non compliance; it was a case of violation. As to the prisoners now that Soekarno had been removed from Java what was point of releasing him? Practical fact was that they are still in confinement and it will be a long time before they get back to Java. As to military observers Council did not know whether they were to be completely free and could use their aircraft. Australia had been accused of being unfriendly to Netherlands. NEI is our closest neighbour. During war we gave aid to the Dutch in military and economic fields to reorganise themselves for a return to NEI but the war was fought for the sanctity of international obligations and we stand behind the UN.

We have tried to make SC work and we feel there has been loss of faith and destruction of hope in UN largely from failure of Council. It has failed in this particular case. Effective action was needed and yet UK has told us that Council acted with too much alacrity. Australia hopes before the rot goes too far that in this case in New York and in future cases the Council would show a little more decision, a little more good sense and little more courage.

The Ukraine spoke along lines of USSR classing Netherlands reply as impudent and provocative and after further speech from Malik in which he said that UK had answered no to his question as to whether Council should do more and the US apparently regarded the Hitlerite junket of the Netherlands Prime Minister as justification for no further action. The Council after the usual expressions of seasonal good will adjourned to New York.

1 The full text of the proceedings in the Security Council on 29 December is given in United Nations, Security Council Official Record,, Third Year, No.137, 396th Meeting, pp.26-49.

[AA:A4387/2, A/48/19H]