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

Cablegram [UN]951 NEW YORK, 8 December 1946, 3.59 p.m.


Assembly 370. Committee 3-Refugees.

1. On 7th December Committee 3 discussed resolution approving Constitution of I.R.O. and arrangement for a preparatory Commission (see pages 2, 3, 4 document A/127) and also interim arrangements (pages 5, 6, 7 of A/127).

2. Lebanese amendment to resolution urging members of United Nations to give favourable consideration to receiving in their territories fair share of non-repatriable refugees was carried.

Resolution as a whole was then carried by 26 votes to 4. We registered an abstention on behalf of Australia.

3. There was opposition, mainly from countries of origin, to paragraph 3 of interim arrangements, on the ground that Preparatory Commission would be authorised to take over functions of existing organisations before it was even certain that I.R.O.

would secure necessary signatures to bring it into existence. No separate vote was taken on paragraph 3, however, and interim arrangements were carried by large majority. We again registered an abstention for Australia.

4. Resolution requests Secretary General to open for signature, with or without reservation as to subsequent acceptance, constitution and interim arrangements. On instructions received [1], we assume you do not wish us to sign either instrument, and unless instructions are received to the contrary we will take no action regarding signature. Australian position is fully protected by statements in both Committees 3 and 5 that Australia reserves its position both in regard to membership of I.R.O. and all the obligations following therefrom, especially financial obligations.


5. Committee 3 has still to adopt Article 10 of Constitution (now before Committee 5) and formally to adopt constitution as a whole.


1 See Document 164 and Document 216, note 3.

2 The delegation was instructed on 10 December not to sign the draft constitution or the interim arrangements as the matter could not be referred to the Australian Govt until the final constitution was available.

3 Article 10 concerned finances of the proposed organisation. On 9 December Committee 3 adopted the draft constitution without Article 10, Australia assenting on the understanding that it was voting simply in favour of transmitting the draft to the General Assembly. On 15 December, with Australia abstaining, the Assembly adopted the reports of the Third and Fifth Committees recommending the draft. On 12 May 1947 Cabinet approved membership of the organisation; Australia signed the constitution the following day.

[AA:A1067, ER46/3/15]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History