264 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations, and Critchley

Cablegrams 123, 36 CANBERRA, 2 March 1949, 5.35 p.m.


1. Since our previous message [1] Dutch statement and actions have given less cause for giving them any benefit of doubt with respect to their intentions in holding the conference at The Hague. The considerations set out in that telegram still apply, that is, the standing of the United Nations and the undoubted influence it has had up to date and related to that the difficulties which might be created for the United Nations if the position is arrived at where compelling action should be taken but for any reason is not taken.

At the same time there are certain basic requirements on which there can be no compromise on tactical grounds. For example, the release with complete freedom of all leaders and, in fact, the thousand other political prisoners held by the Dutch, and the restoration of the Government would seem to be a condition on which there is no room for compromise of any description.

2. The position seems to be that the Commission has reported [2] as strongly as it could on the defiance of the Security Council and asks the Council's direction. There is a primary responsibility on the United States to take the initiative in some form of compelling action executed by all members of the United Nations, by those which can take the most effective action, or by a regional group, whichever seems desirable to the Council. As a last resort if compelling action is vetoed or obstructed for any other reason the least that can be expected is a decision to hold the conference under the jurisdiction of the Commission with a view to implementing the Council's decisions and the Council's recommendations. [3] Where that Commission meets is of little importance, although New York would seem to be a better location than either Batavia or The Hague.

3. The attitudes of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Delhi group cannot at the moment be assessed. Clearly the United Kingdom regard Dutch action as sufficient compliance to argue against compelling action. We for our part do not wish to weaken our stand except insofar as some form of compromise might seem to be necessary rather than have our whole objective defeated. For these reasons a 'wait and see' game should be played for the time being except that we should continue to advocate the carrying out of the United Nations decisions. Any statement that is made should be confined to the observations that the Commission has reported that the Council's decision has been defied, that Australian policy is based on complete support for the United Nations which involves whole-hearted support for all its decisions, and that the obligation for action now rests on the Council and not the Commission, the Commission having reported failure by the Dutch to comply with the Council's directions.

4. This is a most difficult situation to assess from the point of view of tactics and perhaps you may wish to discuss on the phone in the light of your information.

1 Document 251.

2 See Document 265.

3 Document 168.

[AA : A1838, 403/2/3/2, iii]