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

Cablegram UN935 NEW YORK, 7 December 1946, 5.10 a.m.


Assembly 359.


(1) Your UNY457. [1] Procedure in finalising Trusteeship Agreement. Text of Article 8 was submitted to sub-Committee in accordance with instructions as subject to final acceptance by Australia. Approval of Assembly subject to similar reservations would be possible but before we are instructed in this sense consideration should be given to some consequential difficulties.

(2) Present arrangement is that if all Trusteeship Agreements are approved elections for two Elective Members of Trusteeship Council will be held before end of Session in accordance with Article 86 of the Charter and Rule 96 of Provisional Rules of Procedure. If, however, an agreement is subject to reservation approval and in consequence election also could only be on a provisional basis to which there would probably be overwhelming objection.

(3) Article 79 of Charter is understood as contemplating that definitive text of agreement will be available before final Assembly approval is given. If we are not in position to submit definitive text, Assembly will probably defer approval until next session.

(4) We urge strongly that Government should accept text including Article 8. This is so drafted as clearly to impose only such obligations as are in accordance with established Australian practice. Full Committee resumes its meetings Sunday morning 8th.

(5) Unexpectedly early because of brevity of Rapporteur's report all eight Agreements were voted on as a whole in sub-Committee 6th December. Interpreting paragraphs 1 and 3 of UNY437 [2] as at least provisional indication of refusal to accept the two changes proposed by sub-Committee in Articles 4 and 5, we obtained approval for text as submitted including Article 8.

(6) Owing to procedural muddle through rapid pace of vote-taking, New Guinea vote was taken on Secretariat text implying Australia's acceptance of these changes. Position was explained and fresh vote taken.

Voting was unchanged. Text as originally submitted with addition of Article 8 approved by eleven votes to three, with three abstentions. United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands, Mexico, Uruguay, France, Canada, Belgium and Australia voted for, Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia against. China, India and Iraq abstained.

(7) All eight agreements were approved. Voting was same as for New Guinea except that in all other cases China voted for approval.

(8) We had considered possibility of postponing decision on approval of Australian text till we had sought definitive instructions on the proposed changes in Articles 4 and 5. This course would, however, have left us isolated from the rest and in view of intense pressure to complete programme of sub-Committee, this seemed dangerous.

(9) We do not think our rejection of the two minor changes affected actual vote in any way but feel bound to report that it created a rather disagreeable impression (we hope evanescent) both in sub-Committee and among Press, other Mandatories having accepted all modifications recommended by sub-Committee.

(10) Soviet Group explained their vote against all Agreements as expressing intention to reopen in full Committee the four questions of principle on which their proposals for modification had been rejected by sub-Committee- (i) 'Integral part' [3], (ii) Power to constitute fiscal or administrative unions, (iii) Power to establish bases otherwise than with consent of Security Council, (iv) Formal periodical review of Agreements.

(ii) India made formal reservation of its right to propose in full Com-mittee a large number of rejected proposals but had not made up its mind which it would press.

(12) Sub-Committee is proposing rules of procedure restricting right to reopen in full Committee matters rejected in sub- Committee. If these are adopted and chair remains firm we shall probably not have to defend our agreement against any attack directed against New Guinea text exclusively, with possible exception of Chinese and Indian proposals regarding equality in respect of migration, residence, occupation and the like. (See Assembly 350 [4]).

(13) In addition to definitive urgent instruction regarding text of Article 8 we would appreciate them with regard also to the two minor changes proposed in Articles 4 and 5 in case they arise again. At moment text stands unchanged but if matter were raised again in full Committee and Minister on reconsideration was disposed to accept either or both his gesture would certainly be well received both in Assembly and in Press.

(14) So much of Soviet proposal [5] for Article 4 as sub-Committee originally approved with support from United States merely makes powers of administering authority expressly subject to agreement and to Charter. We contended and still think it unnecessary but would not think inclusion of these words would alter sense of Agreement.

(15) United States' proposal to omit words 'in its opinion' from Article 5 was pressed largely on ground that other Mandatories had all removed the phrase from their texts at United States' instance, and that its omission would still leave decision to administering authority alone.

(16) We have not argued here that this is a matter of substance, in order not to embarrass other Mandatories. Bailey fully accepts Eggleston's thesis but as applied to this text thinks it does not give full weight to point made in Paragraph 3 of UNY437 that this question is one neither of law nor of fact but of discretion. We think, however, we have heard the last of this particular proposal. United States (Gerig) said today his Delegation would now be prepared to move approval of Article as it stood and was generally most helpful.

(17) Sub-Committee has now completed its work except on preambles which are deferred pending resumption of discussions on States directly concerned.

1 See Document 275, note 6.

2 Document 270.

3 That is, the right of an administering power to administer a trust territory as though it were an integral part of its own territory.

4 See Document 286, note 1.

5 Cablegram United Nations 873 (Assembly 312), dispatched a December, reported that the sub-committee had approved a Soviet amendment to Article 4 which effected 'a mere drafting change to make quite clear the relation of the wide powers in Article four to the rest of the Agreement and to the Charter'. The change was 'strongly' opposed by the Australian representative.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/13/4, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History