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270 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 224 [1] CANBERRA, 5 September 1944


(My immediately preceding telegram. [2]) Following are our tentative views on World Organisation:

(1) We accept the principle that under present conditions, world security must be maintained in the ultimate issue by force.

(2) We recognise that Britain, Russia and United States have preponderant military strength and it is essential that World Organisation should have their united backing. We do not, however, accept the idea implicit in United Kingdom memorandum B [3] that settlement of disputes should be left entirely to ad hoc decision of World Council. We think that an attempt should be made to seek a declaration from all member nations of the principles they are prepared to uphold and an undertaking in regard to their duties as members of the proposed international organisation. Without such pledges or undertakings from the stronger military powers, the smaller nations will in effect be asked to leave their security entirely to whatever arrangements the Council may determine.

(3) We can see considerable value in an international air force as proposed by the Soviet Union for meeting special emergencies but recognise that military measures for averting or quelling aggression must depend ultimately on co-operation of national forces. Without going into details we consider that United Kingdom memorandum C dealing with security offers a sound basis for discussion.

(4) We think that more attention should be given to economic and other sanctions as a means of preventing aggression. In this connection we would draw attention to views we expressed during preliminary discussion of international petroleum agreement (our telegram 1110 of 28th July [4]), and consider that this is an appropriate time for again stressing the importance of control of this and other strategic materials. The precision of Section VIII of the Soviet memorandum (telegram D.1163 [5]) on the means of averting and quelling aggression rather appeals to us and we think that the undertakings referred to in paragraph (2) above might be related to the acceptance of some such procedure.

(5) We are doubtful regarding regional organisation of security along the lines proposed for Europe in paragraph 18 of United Kingdom memorandum A. [6] Our views of regional organisation of security are given in Clause 13 of Australian - New Zealand Agreement. [7]

(6) We recognise that any pledges or guarantees by the Powers should not be so rigid as to deny the possibility of orderly change and we think the objective should be to ensure peaceful adjustment in accordance with declared principles rather than obtaining guarantees to maintain the status quo at all times. On the other hand we are of the opinion that the peace settlements must be maintained with firmness and authority. In our view this can be done by guarantees to uphold such principles as sovereign equality of states, the political independence of states, the discharge of treaty obligations and the strict adherence to the terms of treaties until amended by agreed legal processes. As a corollary we think that the machinery of world co-operation should include, preferably through the Assembly, provision for orderly processes of change.

(7) In general we are of the opinion that the Assembly should be given functions which will enable it to be in practice the central body of the World Organisation with the World Council as the executive agency but not the controlling body.

(8) Representation on the Council should allow places for at least eight powers beside the Big Four. A two-year term for elected members appears reasonable. Election should be arranged to ensure that at any one time each region should have one elected member.

(9) We also feel that more attention should be given to the welfare side of World Organisation. Our primary objective at present, however, is to ensure that the importance of economic and social factors in helping to bring about the conditions of world peace is fully recognised rather than to force a decision on the manner in which social and economic institutions should be coordinated with the machinery for security. In general we see considerable merit in the United States proposals for a separate Economic and Social Council but would stress that this should be responsible to the Assembly and not to the proposed World Council.

As we have stressed previously, it is our view that other international bodies set up for oil, rubber, civil aviation, cultural relations etc. should also be linked with the World Organisation.

(10) Regarding general procedure we would press most strongly the desirability of the small nations to be consulted at every stage and adequately represented on all organisations. This has been well put by both Canada and New Zealand and with their general approach we are in accord.

1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington as no. 1350 and to the N.Z. Prime Minister as no. 190.

2 Document 269.

3 See Document 148 for the list of memoranda A to E.

4 Document 239. Presumably this reference was intended for Washington.

5. Dispatched 18 August. On file AA:A816, 146/301/1. Section VIII of the Soviet memorandum envisaged a graduating scale of action against an aggressor including: an appeal by the Council to disputants for peaceful settlement, severence of diplomatic relations with the aggressor, economic sanctions, sea and land blockade, naval and air demonstrations, air attacks on specific military objectives in the aggressor state and full-scale military action against the aggressor.

6 Paragraph 18 read in part: 'Just as there are special functional organisations, so there may be regional associations for various purposes when there is obvious advantage to be obtained by limitation of the sphere of action'.

7 Document 26.

[AA:A989, 44/630/5/1/11/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History