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

Cablegram UN836 NEW YORK, 29 November 1946, 1.18 a.m.


Assembly 278.

1. In Committee 1 this morning voting regarding troops in foreign territories was completed with adoption by 34 to 7 with 4 abstentions of complete text based on United Kingdom and United States amendments reported in our Assembly 270. [1] Egypt consented to regard its amendment (see paragraph 7 of Assembly 270 [2]) as a separate resolution and debate was deferred.

2. Egyptian action resulted in termination of foreign troops debate much earlier than expected and after Australian intervention on the veto (see our Assembly 277 [3]) Committee proceeded to disarmament debate. Molotov presented his resolution (see our Assembly 62 [4]) with following addendum.

'To ensure the adoption of measures for the reduction of armaments and prohibition of the use of atomic energy for military purposes there shall be established within the framework of the Security Council, who bear the main responsibility for international peace and security, international control operating on the basis of a special provision which should provide for the establishment of special organs of inspection for which purpose there shall be formed (a) a commission for the control of the execution of the decision regarding the reduction of armaments (b) a commission for the control of the execution of the decision regarding the prohibition of the use of atomic energy for military purposes.' 3. United States was unprepared for debate and indicated privately that in the circumstances they had no objection to our proceeding with our amendment. Therefore having regard to instructions in your UNY417 [5], which was received shortly before the meeting, we took immediate action to place Australian amendment before the Committee and it now occupies a prominent position in Committee's business. Canada also submitted amendment along similar lines.

4. Delegation arrangement had been that Makin should make our principal statement on disarmament but in view of sudden emergency Hasluck took responsibility for immediately lodging amendment. In a brief statement he said that he reserved the right of Delegation Chairman to make principal statement tomorrow and stated that only reason for intervening was (a) To take earliest opportunity of expressing strong interest of Australia in disarmament and their intention to do everything possible to assist in establishing an effective system of disarmament and be able to lodge the amendment which the Australian Government had approved for this purpose.

5. Above unexpected developments answer most of the points raised in your UNY 417. As explained in our Assembly 243 [6] lodging of our amendment was delayed for reasons arising out of consultation with Delegations mentioned in your paragraph 4. Debate on troops in foreign territory developed in a manner that left no opportunity of linking it directly with disarmament and as will appear from our earlier telegrams British and American tactics were to pin down this item to Article 43. [7] We feel that this morning's action has given us a good position for taking an active part in future discussions on disarmament.

1 The United States had suggested that the Soviet Union's proposal that member states submit information on their armed forces in non-enemy territories be widened also to include information on Allied troops in former enemy states; the United Kingdom, abandoning its proposal for a combined discussion of general disarmament and information on armed forces (see Document 244, note 2), had then proposed that all members of the United Nations submit information as to the total of their uniformed personnel stationed at home as well as abroad. The United States supported the U.K. amendment, with the exception of a proposed verification scheme.

2 The Egyptian proposal had called upon member states to withdraw without delay their armed forces from the territories of other members.

3 After the First Committee had voted on the question of troops in foreign territories, Australia had suggested that the committee resume debate on the issue of the veto; when Molotov indicated a 'strong wish' to make a statement on disarmament, Australia had accepted the Chairman's suggestion that 'a special session or sessions be set aside during the weekend for conclusion of the veto debate and that disarmament discussion should proceed'.

4 Document 186.

5 Document 256.

6 Document 249.

7 Article 43 of the U.N. Charter called upon members of the United Nations to make available to the Security Council armed forces necessary for maintaining international peace and security; both the United Kingdom and the United States believed that a system for the regulation of armaments could not be planned without taking into account progress in the negotiation of the necessary agreements stipulated in the article.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History