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257 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN831 NEW YORK, 28 November 1946, 1.23 a.m.


Assembly 273.


Sub-Committee Two. South West Africa.

1. On 27th the South African representative made a further statement giving background of the case for incorporation of the territory in the Union. Major Hahn [1] (territory administration) gave an informative but unimpressively presented sketch of territory and briefly described his procedure in consultations.

Did not convince any critics.

2. Sub-Committee proceeds afternoon 28th to consideration of three resolutions from India, Soviet Union and United States of which text has been sent in Assembly 249, 266 [2] and 267. [3]

3. The view of all mandatories is that the Soviet preamble is strongly objectionable in its view that Charter requires mandates either to be brought under trusteeship or to be given immediate self-government or independence. Offensiveness of reference to consultations with natives in territory is also embarrassing.

4. The United States proposal amounts to little more than leaving the issue open with a friendly reference to South Africa's action in bringing the question to the General Assembly. Netherlands, Denmark and Norway feel there is much force in Soviet criticism that United States resolution does not do justice to strong sentiment expressed in full committee in favour of trusteeship.

They are, therefore, proposing to move an additional clause inviting South Africa to reconsider its decision regarding trusteeship.

5. Committee consists of nineteen members. Previous votes show that division of opinion is close. Mandatories together with United States and western Europeans can muster ten votes to nine.

6. Our present instructions are to abstain from voting. [4] If we and New Zealand abstain on both Soviet and United States resolutions, Soviet resolution will certainly be passed.

7. Understanding your over-riding instruction to be not to embarrass South Africa we propose unless otherwise instructed to support the United States resolution and to accept the Danish amendment to it if necessary to ensure majority. Insistence of Soviet resolution that trusteeship is imperative for mandated territories seems to us so contrary to Australian interests and to true view of Charter that we would like discretion to oppose it if it comes to vote.

8. Please advise urgently.

1 Major C. H. L. Hahn, South African member of the U.N. General Assembly Fourth Committee (Trusteeship).

2 Cablegrams 249 and 266 of 26 and 27 November respectively had reported that India and the Soviet Union bad tabled draft resolutions calling on South Africa to submit a draft trusteeship agreement for South West Africa.

3 Dispatched 27 November, Cablegram 267 had reported the content of a U.S. draft resolution which, while praising South Africa for referring the issue to the United Nations, opposed incorporation of South West Africa in South Africa.

4 The Australian delegation had been instructed on 20 November not to speak in the debate and to abstain if a vote were taken.

[AA:A1067, P46/153/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History