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

153 Australian Government to Addison

Cablegram 352 CANBERRA, 4 October 1946


Your D 854 and 855 Trusteeship Agreements. [1]

1. We have now received U.S. comments on the agreement for New Guinea. [2] The proposed revisions apparently start from the point at which agreement had been reached with UK officials last June.

Whilst we wish to minimise points of difference with the U.S.

before the Assembly opens, we feel that many of their proposals are unacceptable.

2. We feel bound to resist American pressure for inclusion of the phrase 'on behalf of the United Nations' in Article 2 and agree completely with the view expressed by you on this point in your 855. [3] We have already communicated our views to the New Zealand Government and are awaiting their comments. Objections to inclusion of this phrase can be elaborated at length but are based primarily on the 'Trusteeship' character of the proposed system of international review as distinct from the 'Agency' concept of the Mandate system. In our view, under the provisions of the Charter, administration is a national task and supervision an international obligation.

3. We are convinced of the desirability within the wide limits of the Charter of retaining the fullest possible powers of discretion and initiative in the administering Authority. The Trustee Power should be at liberty to work out proper principles of administration appropriate to a particular territory. The territories under trusteeship will vary so greatly from the point of view of stage of development attained that it would not be feasible to lay down general principles of administration which would necessarily hold good for all trustee territories. We have in mind the primitive character of the native inhabitants of New Guinea and the Japanese Mandated Islands. For example, the United States has suggested provisions requiring administration to promote full employment, equal pay, wages etc., to guarantee 'freedom of migration and movement' and of press and assembly.

Such provisions take insufficient account of the present condition of primitive populations living on subsistence agriculture, and are in so absolute a form as to limit unduly the Trustee State's discretion. They also take no account of the distinction between B and C class Mandates. United Kingdom view appears to be based on experience of B class rather than C class Mandates. The essential feature of the Trustee concept is the granting of ample powers to the Trustee Power so that its necessary capacity to act under changing conditions will not be impaired. Our draft will make that clear, for instance in relation to the undertaking to apply appropriate International Agreements (Article 7 of your revised draft for Tanganyika), and will adopt similar attitude to clauses (if any) accepting obligation to promote social or political objectives.

4. In general we are opposed to the repetition or over-elaboration of obligations already defined or implied in the Charter. We shall insist upon a short draft. We understand that South African Government anticipates you will favour South African Mandate being incorporated in South Africa. If so we are at a loss to understand why you should wish to support amendment of our draft which accepts trusteeship. Unless great care is exercised, position will end by disapproval of South African request, to which we certainly are not committed.

5. In attempting to make the obligations of Article 76 more explicit, the U.S. comments place undue emphasis on the provisions requiring equal treatment of all members of the United Nations.

They recognise the limitations arising from considerations of 'security' and 'public order' and also from necessity for compliance with the 'law' of the Trust Territory. The Charter, however, is quite specific in requiring that such equal treatment is also subject to attainment of the other objectives of the Trustee system, especially the advancement of the welfare of the inhabitants.

6. States directly concerned. Our view throughout has been that this phrase can only cover those States with an interest recognised at International law. However, we have chosen to consult with governments whom we believe to be interested, including U.S. but this is expressly without commitment to any interpretation of the phrase 'states directly concerned'. In our case, therefore, the United States will not be at a disadvantage as compared with any other State in regard to amendments which may be proposed to our draft. We agree, however, with the New Zealand Government's comments (Paragraph 4 of 229 to Dominions Office) that at the Assembly our Agreement should be considered on its merits and discussion of the 'states directly concerned' issue avoided as far as possible. We agree with the suggestion made in the United States Aide-Memoire (See your D.877) that Mandatories should present draft terms of Trusteeship without specifying the States which have concurred in the Agreement.

7. We also think no final action should be taken regarding Trusteeship of New Guinea and other C class mandates until we have clear view of proposed Trusteeship or joint Trusteeship of Japanese Mandates (also C class). It is quite impossible for us to dissociate these subjects completely: we fully expected U.S. co- operation in relation to New Guinea, especially in view of pending negotiations regarding Manus Island, and we really feel that there is obviously no liaison between that section of the State Department dealing with bases and that dealing with dependent territories. Perhaps the same situation exists in London as between officers dealing with Trusteeship and those dealing with Security in Pacific, including bases: in view of this we ask that present telegram be shown to Prime Minister.

1 Dispatched on 4 September, they reported U.K. willingness to accept most American wishes on trusteeship agreement texts.

2 See Document 93.

3 That is, that the phrase might 'provoke doubts as to permanence of British administration' and 'arouse apprehension in the African territories that they were being transferred to a new international body'.

[AA:A1838/238, 306/1/1, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History