144 Tange to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 10 February 1949

ASIAN CONSULTATIVE MACHINERY

1. I am puzzled by the Indian aide-memoire [1] which purports to extend into detail the terms of Resolution 3 of the New Delhi Conference; and alarmed by the proposed Australian reply. [2]

2. It can be assumed that, for political reasons, there should be an arrangement of some kind for formalized consultation on all types of issues ranging from political to technical. Australia's task is to make this arrangement effective politically and function efficiently at the technical level. Resolution 3 of the New Delhi Conference speaks of 'machinery ... of promoting consultation within the framework of the United Nations'.

3. It is not clear either in the aide-memoire or in the Australian reply whether it is intended that the particular subjects mentioned should be handled within a United Nations organization, or within a body analogous to the South Pacific Commission. A body of the latter type does not seem to me to be strictly 'within the framework of the United Nations'.

4. But ignoring this question of interpretation of the resolution, [it seems to me that the proposed Australian reply involves duplication with:] [3]

(a) E.C.A.F.E. [4] with its elaborate secretariat;

(b) I.L.O. [5], with a regular large-scale Asian Conference, expanding Asian regional office, regular meetings in Asia to discuss questions of labour inspection, the Asian manpower problems, and similar regional technical conferences;

(c) F.A.O. [6] Asian machinery such as the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council, its forestry and other technical regional committees;

(d) the epidemiological service of W.H.O. [7] which is constructed on a regional basis, and the intended formation of Asian regional organizations within the W.H.O. which is in some sense designed as a federation of regional bodies;

(e) U.N.E.S.C.O. [8], which is beginning to organize regionally through regional seminars, although it can perhaps not be said that its activity in Asia is as effective as that of other organizations;

(f) I.C.A.0. [9], which presumably has some regional arrangements although, at the moment of writing, I have not been able to confirm this.

5. It seems to me that the duplication would be appalling. If it should be argued that there is an analogy with the Brussels Pact which provides for cultural and economic co-operation among its parties, I would suggest that the case for new regional machinery in Europe in these particular fields is rather doubtful but its justification lies primarily in the inability of United Nations machinery to satisfy requirements because of the pervading political dispute between East and West. In Asia this dispute should not (and in fact does not) apply to the same extent and has not hitherto prevented a steadily growing emphasis on Asian activities in all the organizations that I have mentioned.

6. My conclusion is that we should approach this problem in terms of- (a) regular consultations with the Asian countries;

(b) that the instrument providing for these consultations reaffirm the common interests of the members in the Asian activities of the United Nations and all the specialized agencies [political as well as technical];

(c) that the consultations should be designed to take a general perspective of the success or otherwise of these activities in all the various agencies so that a common Asian approach can be worked out regularly, and then applied by the countries individually through their membership of these organizations. (This system of consultation should not require any elaborate secretariat.) (d) a more specific activity might be undertaken under this arrangement in the field of promotion of public understanding of each other's problems, a field which it can hardly be said is adequately covered by U.N.E.S.C.O. at the present time.

7. The foregoing comments on the Asian arrangements seem to me to apply equally well to the proposal that there should be a separate organization for the Middle East. The Middle East, like Asia, is being increasingly served by the United Nations and specialized agency machinery.

[8. The conception I have is of an understanding which creates little formal machinery: but which provides a mechanism (analogous to British Commonwealth consultations) for periodical and ad hoc consultations on major political issues and engender the habit of prior consultations on technical issues as they arise in specific agencies. Such an arrangement would permit further New Delhi Conferences without the excitement and misgivings which the press in Australia worked up over the recent one, and would avoid unnecessary machinery.]

1 Document 142 2 Presumably a draft reply. See Document 149 for the Australian Government's reply.

3 Matter in square brackets was added in Tange's handwriting.

4 Economic Commision for Asia and the Far East.

5 International Labour Orgaization.

6 Food and Agriculture Organization.

7 World Health Organization.

8 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

9 International Civil Aviation Organization.

[AA:A1838/278, 383/1/2/1, iv]