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273 Makin to Evatt

Cablegram UN877 NEW YORK, 2 December 1946, 11.50 p.m.


Assembly 315.

Trusteeship, sub-committee one.

1. I am sending this cable so that there may be no doubt that the implications of the situation as it presents itself to us here are clear to you. I trust that the detailed reports sent by the Delegation have assisted you to keep in touch with present developments.

2. The rapid development of sub-committee work this week has not falsified the forecast in my telegram Assembly 246 [1] but on the contrary has rendered our position more acute. Failure to obtain approval in subcommittee and in full Committee for the present Australian text, unless definite concessions such as those suggested in telegram Assembly 296 of 30th November [2] can be made immediately, is highly probable. Work of sub-committee has proceeded fast, all articles of New Guinea text have been examined, and few really controversial points remain on African texts. We shall shortly be confronted in isolation with proposals for additional Articles from United States and Iraq as well as USSR, India and China.

3. We think a declaration of policy even by the Government could no longer be resorted to with confidence. A Delegation statement alone would be less effective. Unless something concrete is written into the agreement to meet the requests for additional undertakings in administrative matters, my present strong feeling is that even with United States support in full Assembly we shall fail to get necessary two-thirds majority for approval. In that event the Trusteeship Council may be set up without Australia.

4. The sub-committee's opinion on our agreement will carry great weight with full Committee, Assembly and the public, I must advise that feeling in the sub-committee is not now favourable. Whereas our interventions were welcomed less than a week ago for the great help they afforded in the sub-committee's task of clarification, we are now heard with much less patience. Our necessary firmness has come to be looked on as obstinacy, especially where matters regarded by other Delegations as questions of mere drafting are concerned. This has been especially noticeable yesterday and to- day when we had to decline proposals supported as being only formal by United States.

5. On all matters of substance in the seven Articles of our text, we have had strong support in the sub-committee, and no proposal for substantial alteration has secured a majority, the position will be different when we come (probably Tuesday night at latest) to deal with the proposals for new Articles.

6. The absence from the text of our Agreement of any concrete indication of the lines of administrative policy to which we are prepared to subscribe has already led to some suspicion of our motives in defending so tenaciously so brief a text, especially when we do so even on points which others regard as purely formal.

The feeling is spreading that we are trying to get away with something.

7. We have met with hints from others of the view emphatically stated to me yesterday by Dulles, that Australia is out of character in bringing this Document to a world body organised on democratic lines and then rejecting every suggestion for change, and giving no inkling of an intention to respect [international] [3] opinion to the extent of accepting suggestions regarded as in no way harmful to our powers of administration and embodying principles we have ourselves sponsored in the past.

8. We feel that in this field the reputation of Australia is at stake and urge that instructions be sent to us to accept for inclusion in our text at least the points suggested in our Assembly 296. We regard reference to the Trusteeship Council as particularly important.

9. In sub-committee Australia's administrative record has been presented constantly both in substance and by way of illustration of argument, and information for members of the sub-committee desiring it has been prepared and made available despite very intense pressure on the small group concerned due to the speeding up of the sub-committee's programme.

10. In the absence of further instructions a statement will be made in sub-committee along the lines of your UNY437 [4], but I have little expectation that this would at this stage enable us to secure sub-committee or committee approval of the text as it stands. We fear that our friends would not understand our scruples about putting into the text, at this stage, principles that we are willing to place on record by way of declaration.

1 Document 251.

2 Document 265.

3 Corrected from New York copy on file AA:A4311, BOX 481.

4 Document 270.

[AA:A1838/1, 306/1/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History