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289 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram UNY468 CANBERRA, 8 December 1946


Your Assembly 350 and 354. [1]

1. We are surprised that you allowed Chairman's suggestion to be acted upon and allowing the matter to be discussed by the United States and U.S.S.R. in Australia's absence and without public protest is in complete conflict with Government policy. Great Powers have no special responsibility in matter of future disposal of Japanese Mandates. While there may be differences of opinion as to meaning of states directly concerned phrase clearly does not mean in this case the so-called Great Powers who have special voting powers in the Security Council but no other special privilege.

2. Therefore, as subject is now being discussed by Great Powers, or some of them, with a view to reaching agreements or understandings which judging by your reports will prejudice final discussions later, you should immediately raise matter in Committee and in Plenary Session and protest at procedure with a view to having Novikov-Dulles talks immediately terminated.

3. Australia lost initiative both in veto and disarmament by allowing these matters to be discussed by Great Powers as though they had some special status in relation to Assembly. In the case of Japanese Mandates Australia has a special interest by her geographical position, a special right by her war effort which no Great Power except America can claim and also by virtue of the Treaty of Versailles. Consequently no group of nations should discuss matter unless that group includes Australia. Australia not only state directly concerned but also state directly concerned in any interpretation of that phrase. Bargain made between Soviet and America on subject of states directly concerned may affect Australia vitally.

4. For instance, Soviet claim regarding future agreements would seem to imply that they reserve right to claim to be state directly concerned in case of Nauru. Our position in respect of Nauru must be maintained and assurance to this effect will now be required before Government will finally approve agreement for New Guinea.

5. Private discussion with United Kingdom with view to influencing attitude of Thomas, who is after all only an observer at talks, is of no avail. Our views have been clearly put to the United Kingdom at Prime Ministers' Conference, in telegrams and publicly. In spite of that Thomas apparently made no protest when told by Gerig that United States would submit agreement first to Great Powers.

In this matter Australia is the appropriate member of the British Commonwealth to negotiate if negotiations appear desirable between parties most directly concerned. We cannot allow United Kingdom to make bargain on Italian Colonies in exchange for concessions in relation to Japanese Mandates. They have attempted to do this in the past and present discussions appear to be with same objective.

It is not sufficient for Bevin to be informed that he must make no commitment without hearing our views. United Kingdom must not act for Australia in any sense: we must be party principals in any discussions including the present Soviet-American talks, or ourselves act for the United Kingdom in these Pacific affairs.

6. In our view discussions on Japanese Mandates are premature.

Peace treaty negotiations are not as yet even planned and no formal action can be taken until Peace Conference representative of those powers directly concerned has made its decisions. At the same time we approve in principle of American responsibility and would be prepared to discuss matter in advance of peace treaties.

But we will not accept discussions between groups not including Australia as party principal.

7. You should immediately call attention of the Committee and the Assembly to the nature of the Soviet-American discussions which were intended to settle only question of states directly concerned in present agreement but which now appear to be concerned with future disposal of Japanese Mandates. The Committee should merely note that Soviet is not claiming to be state directly concerned in relation to present agreements. [2]

1 See Document 286, note 1 and Document 284, note 2.

2 Cablegram United Nations 950 of 8 December reported that at a meeting of the full Committee Four that day, Bailey had 'secured that Novikov and Dulles will report to the Sub-Committee not to the full Committee', and noted that in Sub-Committee 'all Mandatories are represented and Australian position can be effectively maintained'.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History