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153 Draft Memorandum by Forsyth

[CANBERRA], 7 April 1943



1. The principle of United Nations supervision of administration in some non-selfgoverning territories (Part II of Hull Draft) should be extended to cover all such territories.

2. It should be made clear where responsibility for present Mandated Territories is to lie and what their status is to be. Are further mandates to be allotted? And what is the future of the Mandate System generally? 3. The Draft unduly stresses self-government. The attainment of autonomy is a practical question as yet in only a few colonial territories. To make autonomy the principal concern and at the same time to include all colonies within the purview of the Declaration is unreal, it might well be the grounds of a charge of lack of intellectual and even of moral integrity.

4. Further to (3), if matters of primary concern other than self- government are involved (e.g. security bases, international air transport, application of Article VII) this should be made explicit.

5. Further to (3) and (4), if self-government is the main objective with which the Declaration is to deal, then its steps should be restricted to colonial areas which are within reasonable distance of that goal. Other colonies could then be dealt with separately. But this seems undesirable on several grounds, and so the Declaration should be more comprehensive in scope and more precise as to its application to colonies according to their real characteristics and their different stages of development. (There is precedent in Article 22 of the League Covenant, in which three classes of Mandate were distinguished.) 6. Elucidation of Part II [2] is necessary. What territories are in mind? 7. Economic provisions should be clarified and strengthened.

Especially it is noted that point (e) of paragraph (1) Section I [3] covers only the development of colonial territories and not the access of other countries to their markets, which would be expanding pari passu with development.


1. Australia's first concern is the winning of the war. Maximum resistance to Japan depends on a bold statement of United Nations aims, calculated to stimulate conquered peoples to resistance, active where and when possible, passive at the least. The statement must also satisfy public opinion in China, India, the United States and elsewhere in regard to 'Imperialism' and the future of colonies. At present our political warfare in the Pacific is stunted and frustrated by the lack of a definite and positive general directive. A Declaration on Colonial Policy should go far towards filling this need.

2. Australia's second concern is future security. Stability in the Pacific Area is essential to this. Our interests are incompatible with reversion to a colonial system which would be on the one hand a standing challenge to non-colonial powers such as Germany and Japan, and on the other an affront to the colonial peoples, or the growing number of them who inevitably imbibe modern ideas and education. Further, our special position in the Pacific dictates a long-term interest in the cultivation of political, economic and social strength and maturity among the native communities of South-East Asia and Indonesia. Events have proven the weakness of an order in this part of the world which was only the projection of separate western powers and interests and was dependent on European rather than Local and Pacific considerations. There must be built up in the course of time a self-subsisting Western Pacific system, and the Sooner a start is made the better from Australia's point of view. Western guidance must necessarily remain for a considerable time, but it is vital that administration and development be subject to external supervision, and Australia must insist on this and on full participation in it.

3. Linked with security (and of more immediate significance for Pacific stability than the social and political development of the colonial peoples) is the economic question. Australia is interested in future economic opportunities in Pacific countries, especially in Indonesia and South-East Asia, and it is important, therefore, that there should not be discrimination against us. But our interest far transcends this: we wish this area to cease to be a zone of international political conflict. This means dissociating political control from economic advantages, i.e. the abandonment of discriminatory policies all round. Markets as well as raw materials must be open to all nations on equal terms, and investments subject to conditions determined by the interests of the territories and not those of particular extraneous powers and groups. Competing interests, in short, must be confined to the economic plane. But the strength of some of the firms and corporations interested in the region and their influence with their home governments are such that individual governments within the region will need the constant support and surveillance of properly-constituted development and financial agencies responsible to the United Nations.

4. There is a positive counterpart to this negative policy of removing inequalities of opportunity. For stability in the Pacific it is necessary not only to remove discriminatory barriers, but also to expand opportunities. Australia stands to gain in two ways from a definite policy of fostering productivity and standards of living in the Western Pacific. In the first place our own export trade would benefit. But again our larger interest is more fundamental than this commercial one: there cannot be stability in the Pacific and consequently there cannot be any long-lived security for Australia unless the explosive energies of Japan find accommodation. Japan must export either goods or people. The condition on which industrial countries with a growing population can maintain their standard of living and pursue a non-aggressive external policy is that they have outlets for the product of their energies. Future stability in our region will therefore depend largely on the expansion of opportunities for trade and investment. This principle cannot be limited to the Pacific area since the trade of Japan or any other country is affected by conditions in all parts of the world; but South-East Asia is an obvious and appropriate field for international action to foster development, productivity, rising standards and expanding trade.

The development and financial agencies suggested in paragraph (3) should be charged with this work.

5. A security system in the Pacific will stand or fall ultimately according as the economic settlement gives real prospects of a decent living for all Pacific peoples. But it is essential also that the short-cut to wealth by conquest be excluded and that national ambitions and cults of power be denied any chance of successful aggression. Stability cannot be assured by a security system alone, although it cannot be achieved without such a system. Australia needs and will co-operate in an international police force in the Pacific. But our share in it must be such that we will be in a position-geographically in regard to bases falling to our care, industrially in regard to armament production, militarily in regard to trained and equipped forces of all arms- such that in the event of the system becoming weakened by political, economic or demographic changes, we should be ready to defend ourselves. If an international police system succeeds and endures, so much the better, but we have to consider the not impossible contingency of its disintegration. It is therefore desirable that we should be given direct responsibility for the police system in the area adjacent to our shores, and whether under mandate or some other arrangement obtain the right to maintain, arm, and man bases in Timor, Dutch New Guinea, New Britain, the Solomons, New Hebrides and Noumea, and that we should share in the security arrangements covering Malaya, Netherlands East Indies, Japanese Mandated Islands and British Western Pacific possessions, as well as more generally in the Pacific security system as a whole.

6. A danger we have to avoid in regard to a Pacific security system is that we might exchange isolation for domination; our chief difficulty may well be to keep a balance between external security and internal autonomy. This difficulty would be increased if the colonial settlement were such that Britain and the Netherlands lost interest or influence in the Western Pacific. We may in future have use for a European counterweight to American or Chinese influence in this region. For this reason alone it is not to our interest to advocate international administration (as distinct from supervision) of colonies or to press for a colonial settlement unduly onerous for colonial powers.


Following are some comments on Hull's Draft Declaration on Colonial Policy:-

The Hull Draft lacks clarity and balance. It is not clear whether any revision of the Mandates System is contemplated, what territories would be administered under the International Trusteeship Administration, on what principles these have been distinguished from present colonies, what, if any, would be the relationship between the I.T.A. and the Regional Councils for ordinary colonies. As to balance there is some (perhaps at this stage undue) precision as to the status of the territories regulated by Part II, while the status of present mandates is ignored and of present colonies dealt with only in the most general terms. Again, the obligations in the Atlantic Charter are cited, but self-determination is emphasised almost to the exclusion of the provisions relating to welfare. It is very undesirable that the terms of a Declaration should be so open to doubt and dispute. A Declaration at this stage should deal with broad principles applicable to all non-selfgoverning peoples. If it descends from this plane in regard to one type of colonial territory, it should be equally precise in regard to all. But no essential purpose would be served by precision at this stage, while the door would be opened to undesirable public disputation on matters which would be better reserved for private official discussion prior to and at the peace conference. If the Hull Draft is taken as the basis of a Declaration we would suggest:-

(i) The preamble should be shortened and its balance corrected by making it clear that economic and social objectives are as important as self-determination.

(ii) Part 11 should be dropped and no distinction be made between principles applicable to present colonies, present mandates and territories which might in future fall within the scope of the Declaration.

(iii) Part I paragraph (1) [4] should be corrected on the same lines as the Preamble.

(iv) The principles in sub-sections (a) to (e) of paragraph (1) should be of equal rank with the principle of independence; the social and economic principles should be regarded as ends in themselves and not as means to a political end.

(v) The principle of international supervision should extend to all colonies and regional commissions.

(vi) The Declaration should recognise the interest of all countries in colonial markets, an interest at least as important as that in colonial [sic] markets.

The United Kingdom Draft [5] is a more satisfactory document in style and construction for the purpose in view, but it would need the following amendments:-

(1) The addition of a preamble similar in purport to Hull's, though less wordy and without the exaggerated emphasis on self- determination.

(2) The inclusion of the principle of international supervision accepted by Hull but not restricted as in Hull's Draft to one type of colonies.

(3) Recognition of the desirability of associating native peoples as closely as possible with the work of government in their territories; and (4) Recognition of general right of access to colonial markets.



1 See Document 149, note 2.

2 Part II recalled that after the First World War 'peoples in several areas still unprepared for full independence were released from political ties with nations formerly responsible for them' and suggested that such territories should be placed under the control of 'an International Trusteeship Administration composed of representatives of the United Nations and of all other nations which now, or which may hereafter, co-operate in carrying forward and applying the provisions of the Atlantic Charter.

3 Point (e) read 'To pursue policies under which the natural resources of colonial territories shall be developed, organized and marketed in the interest of the peoples concerned and of the world as a whole'.

4 Paragraph 1 of Part I stressed the obligation of nations having responsibility for colonial areas to work for their political, social, economic and educational advancement and to guide them towards self-government and independence.

5 See Document 96 and Document 113, note 2.

6 On 8 April the Secretary of the External Affairs Dept dispatched to Evatt (then in Washington) a summary of the main points made in this memorandum. See cablegram PW33 on file AA:A989, 43/735/1021.

[AA:A989, 43/735/1021]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History