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

Cablegram UN859 NEW YORK, 30 November 1946, 8.50 p.m.


Assembly 298.

1. Joint meeting of first and sixth Committees voted this afternoon regarding Indians in South Africa. Various proposals had been reduced to- (a) Joint proposal of United Kingdom, United States, Sweden and South Africa (see our Assembly 279 [1]).

(b) French-Mexican motion (see our Assembly 272 [2]).

(c) A new Polish amendment reducing United Kingdom proposal to almost meaningless terms.

(d) Chinese and Colombian proposal to refer all proposals to a subcommittee for study with a view to reaching settlement.

2. India withdrew its independent proposal and associated itself with French-Mexican proposals.

3. During tangled debate manipulations of Manuilsky as Chairman coupled with vacillation of China gained priority for French- Mexican proposal. We argued that Chinese-Colombian proposal should be submitted first as it would obviously become meaningless if fate of other proposals were decided. United Kingdom and others also raised objections to procedure adopted.

4. When it became obvious that vote was to be taken we made brief declaration to the effect that none of the resolutions was wholly acceptable to us and our vote should be understood as attempt to choose the least objectionable. We regretted that Committee had not made greater effort to investigate and study question before pressing to final vote.

5. Belgium made similar declaration and several other delegations, including United States, Netherlands, Luxemburg and Canada indicated their embarrassment in circumstances in which vote was being taken.

6. Vote on French-Mexican proposal resulted in its adoption by 24 votes to 19 with 6 abstentions and 5 absent. The majority was comprised of India, the Soviet Group, several Latin American Republics, the Arab States, Iran, China and the Philippines. We voted against.

7. This vote was regarded as having closed the Committee's consideration of the subject but, as anticipated, the result makes it almost certain that it will be impossible to obtain two-thirds majority for any decision in the Plenary Sessions. We would appreciate your careful consideration of the terms of the various resolutions contained in our Assembly 272 and 279 and any further instructions regarding our attitude in Plenary Sessions, particularly on domestic jurisdiction issue.

1 Document 259.

2 France and Mexico had co-sponsored a draft resolution favourable to India in that it accepted that friendly relations between South Africa and India were at issue, called on both governments to report on measures taken to bring the treatment of Indians in South Africa into conformity with international obligations, and ignored South Africa's claim of domestic jurisdiction.

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History