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

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

Cablegram UN850 NEW YORK, 30 November 1946, 2.47 a.m.


Assembly 291. Disarmament.

1. Second day of disarmament debate opened with speech by Makin.

2. Speaking first on the method of regulation and reduction of armaments we said that the responsibilities of the Security Council and the Military Staff Committee were laid down in Article 26. In addition it has already been decided by the Assembly that atomic energy required a special method of handling as a wider problem involving both peaceful and harmful uses. The Commission had made progress but was most seriously handicapped by lack of agreement on safeguards. The Assembly should reaffirm the Commission's terms of reference and make clear that control and safeguards must be accomplished through single international treaty to ensure that these were carried out concurrently. Dr.

Evatt's original emphasis on unity of the problem and his outline of atomic energy control system were quoted. [1]

3. Commenting on addendum to Soviet proposal [2] we pointed out that the problem was not simply banning atom bombs but control over atomic energy in the widest sense and the majority of the Commission were in broad agreement on a comprehensive system of control through an international authority and based on an international convention. In view of the large measure of agreement on this in the Atomic Energy Commission, Assembly should ask itself whether the Soviet proposal would mean abandonment of work already done and attempt to make an approach which the majority of Commission had already found too narrow. We also asked the Soviet to explain more exactly the nature and functions of the Commission proposed in sub-paragraph B of their addendum and its relationship to proposals now before the Atomic Energy Commission.

What did the Soviet mean by 'control'. What was the relationship between their proposed commissions and existing organs of the United Nations. If their commissions were established 'within framework of the Security Council' did that mean decisions of the Commission would be subject to the veto. We quoted Dr. Evatt's statements on this aspect. [3] Furthermore, it was doubtful whether, under the Charter, the executive powers of the Security Council were sufficiently wide for it to discharge all the tasks relating to reduction, regulation and control of armaments and atomic energy. Responsibility of the Security Council and the Military Staff Committee in disarmament related to 'planning'.

4. Turning to the Assembly's interest in the subject we referred to the responsibility under Article 11(1) to recommend to the Security Council positive general principles of disarmament. These might be based on the Charter, previous decisions of the Assembly and past experience and we outlined the following principles for consideration.

(a) Disarmament is inseparable from and dependent upon confidence in the effectiveness of security measures and on United Nations and general improvement in international relations.

(b) Regulation of armaments must be determined in the light of obligations under Article 43.

(c) Account must be taken of regional arrangements or agencies.

(d) Obligations under any plans must fall equally on members and must be multilateral, substantive and qualitative as well as quantitative. The principle of national sovereignty must not obstruct effective system of regulation.

(e) Any system must be world-wide. (See Article 2, paragraph 6.) [4]

1 Reference here is to the outline conveyed in Volume IX, Document 329.

2 See Document 262.

3 See Volume IX, Document 329.

4 This paragraph states that the United Nations 'shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security'.

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History