60 Price to Australian Government

Letter CANBERRA, 11 January 1949


We have been asked to communicate to the Australian Government the substance of the instructions which have been given to the United Kingdom delegation to the Security Council at New York as to the line now to be taken by them in the Council on the Indonesian question.

We understand that a resolution put forward by Australia and India is before the Council, calling upon the Dutch to:-

(a) release Indonesian political leaders;

(b) withdraw within one week their armed forces behind demilitarised zones as they stood on the 17th December, 1948;

(c) grant full facilities to United Nations observers.

The instructions to the delegation are to the following effect:-

The United Kingdom Government would be prepared to support (a) and (c) of the Australian and Indian resolution referred to above. As to (b), the United Kingdom delegation have been instructed to remind their colleagues that the United Kingdom voted for the United States resolution [1] which called upon the parties to withdraw. That was, however, more than a fortnight ago, and the United Kingdom Government really feel that the views of competent observers on the spot should be obtained before calling upon the Dutch to withdraw. In the first place, it is doubtful whether the Dutch would in fact withdraw, and secondly, whatever our feelings about the situation, it may prove to be the case that withdrawal would only lead to confusion, reprisals, and possibly even massacre.

The United Kingdom Government consider that the United Kingdom delegation should be strongly critical of the Dutch failure to carry out the terms of the Security Council resolution of the 24th December. Their cease-fire order was subject to qualifications, and in the period which has elapsed since the resolution was passed they have not given adequate facilities to the agencies of the United Nations to report on its operations. Similarly, the release of political prisoners, which has been repeatedly urged upon them, has only been complied with to a restricted degree. Nor are there as yet any signs that recognisable representatives of the Republic are to be allowed to take part freely (if they are willing) in the setting up of the Interim Federal Government.

The United Kingdom delegation should say that while welcoming the statements of the Queen of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Prime Minister on the creation of the United States of Indonesia [2] and the transfer of power, the world still awaits a single sign that the responsible Netherlands authorities are doing anything either to implement these undertakings, or to carry out the Security Council resolution of 24th December. The delegation should add that the Netherlands Government appear to be unaware that world confidence in their intentions has been severely shaken by their attempt to seek a military solution of the Indonesian problem. That opinion has manifested itself in the speeches at the Security Council both in Paris and in New York, and it is up to the Netherlands Government to take very early steps to remedy the position.

The United Kingdom delegation has been instructed to support the resolution proposed by the Australian and Indian Governments as far as (a) and (c) are concerned. As to (b), the United Kingdom Government would prefer to see substituted a clause which might read: 'Calls upon the United Nations Agencies in Indonesia to furnish an immediate report as to the practicability of an early withdrawal of Dutch forces to the positions occupied by them on the 17th December, 1948, and further calls upon the Netherlands authorities at once to furnish all facilities to the United Nations Agencies to carry out this task'.

So much for the immediate issue. The United Kingdom delegation has, however, been instructed to try to get the Security Council away from destructive criticism since they think its efforts would be better directed towards pressing the Dutch to proceed to an early setting up of the Interim Government, to elections, to the creation of the United States of Indonesia and to the transfer of power. The United Kingdom delegate has been instructed to conclude his speech by stressing this aspect of the situation, and by calling upon the Netherlands Government to furnish the Security Council with early evidence that they are in fact taking urgent steps to implement the undertakings contained in the statement of the Queen of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Prime Minister.

1 See note 3 to Document 31.

2 See notes 4 and 11 to Document 48.

[AA : A1838, 402/8/1/1/1, ii]