Cablegram UN619 (extract) NEW YORK, 3 November 1946, 2.32 p.m.
Further to our Assembly 69 , Committee 3.
(1) Discussion on refugees is now scheduled to begin on the
afternoon of 4th November, New York time. The following comments
on the probable course of the debate and problems involved may be
(2) Discussions regarding other Agenda items show that Members of
E.S.C. are likely to show impatience at detailed debate on matters
already discussed at great length elsewhere. We shall resist this
tendency strongly, pointing out that most countries are not
represented on E.S.C. and that the functions of the Assembly
should not be reduced to mere rubber stamping.
(3) We have suggested to the Chairman (Berendsen) that preliminary
general discussion is desirable before any reference to the sub-
Committee. In this way, main differences of opinion can be
ventilated and non-Members of E.S.C. given full opportunity to
express their views. Berendsen agrees, and there is a fair chance
that the Committee will endorse this view. It is nevertheless
possible that an attempt may be made to refer the subject at the
earliest possible moment to sub-Committee, particularly as regards
detailed examination of the Draft Constitution.
We will oppose this, but, if unsuccessful, will stress the need to
appoint to the sub-Committee a reasonable number of non-Members of
(4) Our instructions are clear on the general question of
preferring Commission of E.S.C. to new specialised Agency , and
we can now draw some support for this view from general statements
made in the Plenary Session by the Secretary General and by some
other countries. We will emphasise that the onus of proof
regarding the need for establishment of the New Agency lies on
those advocating it-so far Australia has not been convinced.
(5) In arguing this point however, we may be challenged to give
precise details as to how, in our opinion, the Commission could
deal urgently and efficiently with the problem of refugees (see
paragraph 8 of our Assembly 69). We would appreciate your
immediate comments on this. In the meantime, we may have to
suggest, if pressed, that a sub-Committee be appointed to examine
and report on this aspect.
(6) In arguing for E.S.C. Commission, however, we may find that
other countries, including those who support our view, may claim
that all Members of the United Nations (including Australia)
should, in these circumstances, make reasonable contributions to
the Refugee Budget. In view of our instructions, we shall of
course reserve the Australian position fully and make no
commitment. we would, however, appreciate your urgent instructions
as to the line we should take regarding contributions to
operational budget as distinct from Administrative Budget. If we
are to argue that contributions to operational budget should be
voluntary, two points need to be kept in mind.
Firstly, we may meet the view that unless Governments contribute
to operational expenses they should not be given any share of
control and that it would be better to do without contributions of
such countries to small Administrative Budget. (See our Assembly
Secondly, as the Eastern Group also opposes compulsory
contributions to Operational Budget, care will need to be taken to
avoid suspicion that Australia shares the political views of the
Eastern Group regarding definition of refugees and regarding the
need to return refugees to countries of origin even if they do not
wish to return.
(7) As regards the views of our Treasury Department , we
suggest (and the Ambassador agrees) that the correct approach to
the question of costs should be as follows. It is entirely
appropriate that Australia should press generally for economy in
United Nations Affairs and challenge proposals to establish new
specialised Agencies. We have already made a statement on these
lines in Plenary Session, and have been supported by the United
States and some other countries. Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics has also strongly criticised the General United Nations
Budget as being too high. This pressure for economy is likely to
have some effect. On the other hand we suggest that Australia's
interest in refugee problems is wider than mere 'humanitarian'
interest. Refugee problem in Europe is a carryover from the war,
and, if unsolved, will affect Australia as well as European
Countries. Unless solved, it will be a focus of discontent and
cause of dissension between Eastern and Western Europe. If, on the
other hand, East and West can agree on some machinery to deal with
problem, this would be of substantial political importance. In
existing circumstances, any practical machinery which may keep
East and West working together minimizes chances of break between
them. Finally, general Australian political line has been that
United Nations cannot succeed unless purposes and principles of
Charter are observed. If we do not take reasonable financial
responsibility as regards refugees, other countries may feel that
we are not living up to our responsibilities under Charter,
although, as an unravaged country, we are in a somewhat better
position to do so than some other countries.
(8) Comments on the matters raised above would be appreciated and
would be of the greatest assistance if received by Monday morning
4th November, New York time. In the meantime, we will adhere
strictly to our general instructions. Please advise urgently
whether Departmental comments on particular articles in the Draft
Constitution contained in our brief have Ministerial approval.