210 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram UNP69, CANBERRA, 9 November 1948, 6.30 p.m.


Your 184, 185 and 186. Administrative Union.

Committee resolution is acceptable except for paragraphs 4 and 11(a).

Paragraph 4 is in our view unnecessary and misleading. The main thing is that nothing contained in any plan for administrative union should have the effect of destroying separate identity of a trust territory thus preventing the exercise of the Council's obligations. We have repeatedly insisted that separate identity of New Guinea will be preserved. A common legislative body, particularly where peoples, customs and stage of development are in all respects similar, need not in any way run counter to the objective of trusteeship. This objective is in any case amply recognised and covered elsewhere in the present resolution and a separate paragraph 4 is unnecessary.

Regarding paragraph 11(a) we have in fact informed Trusteeship Council before completing our plans for administrative union. We did this in spite of clear authority to set up union and in accordance with our desire to co-operate with the Council. Other powers might be prepared to do likewise. We feel it undesirable however that the principle of consultation, which is not required by the Charter, should be given any compulsory effect, however slight. We could accept paragraph if either (a) word 'consult' could be changed to 'inform', thus still allowing Council discussion, or (b) following could be added in preamble after paragraph 3: 'Recognising further that the nature of any administrative union, and any decision regarding the time of its introduction, are matters entirely within the discretion of the administering power'.

Paragraph 11(a) is really the key point of the resolution so far as we are concerned. If it could be omitted or resolution amended as suggested we would in the last resort be prepared to accept paragraph 4.

It may be that amendments along these lines cannot now be introduced, or that they will be unacceptable. The question arises how Australia should vote finally in Assembly. There is nothing in the resolution which would impose any specific obligation on us though our interpretation of it may later be challenged. In the circumstances it would be preferable if we did not find ourselves voting in a decided minority and you should abstain from voting on the resolution rather than let this occur, meanwhile doing everything possible to have clause deleted or, if that is not possible to effect above amendments.

[AA : A1838, 301/2/3]