Date range
Open the calendar popup.
Open the calendar popup.

100 Department of External Affairs to Evatt

Submission CANBERRA, 3 September 1946


Elections for six of the eighteen positions on the Economic and Social Council will take place at the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Those nations retiring are Greece, Lebanon, Ukraine, U.S.A., Colombia, and Yugo-Slavia. They are all eligible for re-election.

2. At the time of the first election to the Council, New Zealand withdrew in favour of Yugo-Slavia after a deadlock in the Assembly. As a result she was more or less promised the support of at least the United Kingdom, and U.S.A., as well as Australia, at the next elections. It can therefore be assumed that New Zealand is likely to be in a good position to secure selection, possibly in place of Greece. The re-election of the United States seems certain, and is, of course, essential to the sound working of the Council. The Dominions Office has advised the Australian Government that Egypt has arranged to receive the support of the Arab States for the Council as she will retire from the Security Council at the end of the year. That country will, therefore, probably replace Lebanon. Colombia seems certain either to be re- elected or to be replaced by one of the Latin American Republics.

3. This leaves the positions of the Ukraine and Yugo-Slavia unresolved. It would seem improbable that the Slav states would drop one of their representatives on the Council in favour of Australia. Moreover, there are several other considerations to be borne in mind:-

(a) It is more than likely that the candidature of Australia for the Council would detract from the vote obtained by New Zealand, whom we should support, especially after her attitude towards our election to the Security Council. [1] It is possible that vote- splitting would lead to the election of neither.

(b) The election of Australia and New Zealand to the Council in 1946 would lead to United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India and New Zealand all being on the Council at the same time, which may well not be practicable despite the independent status of member nations of the Commonwealth. Moreover, if a British Commonwealth member is to be elected in addition to New Zealand, South Africa may well feel that we have had our share of key United Nations positions, while she has so far had none. However, our right to election to the Council as a result of our work at San Francisco on the economic aspects of the Charter give us much more right to election than that country, or many others for that matter.

(c) There is no doubt that the policies that New Zealand would represent on the Council would be mainly those that Australia would herself sponsor, and the close consultation that is maintained between the two countries would enable us to keep in touch with the working of the Council.

4. So far as British Commonwealth representation is concerned, somewhat the same position is likely to arise at the 1947 elections. The Soviet Union and the United Kingdom are two of the six members due to retire, and they are both certain of re- election. The other four are India, Norway, Cuba and Czechoslovakia. India has been doing good work in the Chair of the Council, and will in all probability be anxious for reelection. Of the others, only Norway seems vulnerable, although the other two may be replaced by countries representative of their particular area. However, unless British Commonwealth preponderance makes it impracticable, Australia may well be able to secure a place on the Council, instead of Norway, unless the admission of Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland to the United Nations by then makes the possibility of a permanent Scandinavian representative likely.

Scandinavian contributions to the economic and social field are by no means small.

5. Failing election in 1947, the replacement of Canada by Australia in the 1948 elections seems practicable and justified:-

(a) By this time it is likely that Canada will be a member of the Security Council, and may therefore be prepared to let Australia carry on her work for the United Nations in the Economic and Social Council.

(b) The Australian Delegation in New York has also suggested that this may be the year when the challenging of the principle of the continuing representation of the Big Five on the Council might be successful. The permanent presence of United Kingdom, U.S.A., and the U.S.S.R. is desirable in view of the international economic importance of each, but the claims of France and China, in that order, a-re not so clear.

6. In view of the forthcoming meeting of the third session of the Economic and Social Council prior to 23rd September your directions are requested. [2]

1 New Zealand had supported Australia's candidature to the Security Council in preference to Canada. See Volume IX, Document 19.

2 The third session of the Economic and Social Council was held at Lake Success between 11 September and 3 October.

[AA:A1067, ER46/3/8]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History