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

Cablegram UN961 NEW YORK, 9 December 1946, 4.29 a.m.


Assembly 380. Trusteeship. Procedure for finalising agreements. 1.

Your UNY.472. [1] You will now have the complete text as approved by the Sub-Committee of Articles 1 to 8. As you note, preamble has not yet been dealt with.

2. In submitting Article 8 we stated specifically, in paragraph 9 of our supplementary report on proposed modifications (DOC A/C4/SUB1/ 83) that 'this additional Article 8 will be submitted for approval of the Sub-Committee, subject always to final acceptance by the Australian Government. This final acceptance, and its exact terms, will be communicated when the entire agreement is submitted for approval at the appropriate stage following the discussions in the Sub-Committee'.

3. The Secretariat has been reminded of this.

4. Before Article 8 was tabled, the position had been repeatedly stated in Sub-Committee that the original text had been most carefully considered by the government and put before Parliament and recommendations for modification would raise considerable difficulties for the government.

5. We do not think any serious question will now arise of making further concessions. Our grounds for this are:-

(a) Very few meetings of the Full Committee can now be held before final plenaries begin. There will be no time for minor proposals now.

(b) All the amendments now reserved for discussion in Full Committee are on matters of substance on which proposals were defeated in Sub-Committee and on which Delegations concerned have already made clear that proposals were unacceptable. In the present temper of the majority of the Committee (see immediately following telegram [2]) it would not surprise us if some of the more drastic proposals received majorities in Committee. We have, however, been in touch with all other mandatories and in the present circumstances and atmosphere there is little likelihood of any of them contemplating further concessions.

(c) Owing to shortness of time and under pressure from mandatories (especially the United Kingdom Belgium and ourselves) the chairman is being urged to concentrate discussion on a single meeting for approval of each agreement as a whole. On that issue, United States feels confident of rallying support from a majority of the Committee.

6. We are endeavouring to work out and obtain acceptance for a procedure by which the agreements even after approval by Assembly will still be subject to acceptances in accordance with the constitutional procedures of the submitting state. There will however, be great difficulty in sustaining this if two or more mandatories were to accept approval as a final act establishing an agreement. We assume you are in constant touch with Wellington.

7. We are doing our utmost here but our difficulties are very great indeed. If immediate approval cannot be given on the basis of the text now in your hands (Assembly 367) without any change whatever, we would much appreciate it if you would consider whether we could be given authority to announce final acceptance on approval by Assembly such announcement to be made only if our attempts to secure a procedure along the lines of paragraph 6 do not succeed.

8. Your views noted with regard to changes proposed by Sub- Committee in Articles 4 and 5. Our present view is that no modifications should now be made either in substance or in drafting.

9. The Chairman and Bailey consulted all members of the Trusteeship team before exercising the discretion entrusted to them in UNY.440 [3] and 443, and thought the time had come for last resort action. Reasons were broadly- (i) It was the last possible opportunity before the Sub-Committee embarked on a long list of proposals for new articles sponsored by United States of America, Soviet, China, India and Iraq with the feeling of the Sub-Committees and press strongly and definitely coalescing against us as the sole obstinate mandatory power which refused to favourably consider under-takings which had been accepted by all the others.

(ii) It would enable us in one blow to demolish a large number of substantial proposals for amendment, resistance to which was already undermining Australia's liberal reputation and seriously endangering approval of agreement even in the Assembly.

(iii) It would win essential active support from United States of America which had shown by its action on Articles 4 and 5 that it was in a position to sway the majority of the Sub-Committee against us article by article.

(iv) We would be able to avoid isolation from other mandatory powers and consequences of being subject to discriminatory attack of the Soviet and Asia group.

(v) By presentation of a new single article in general conformity with our agreement as a whole we would be able to preserve the initiative on our own terms.

(vi) To concede later would have yielded progressively diminishing returns.

(vii) Whilst appreciating that we might have to run the gauntlet again, we would be doing so in company with other mandatories not in isolation and probably not article by article, see paragraph 5 above. [4]

1 Document 291.

2 Document 301.

3 Document 272.

4 In cablegram 484 of 10 December, the delegation was informed of Cabinet's approval of the draft agreement (see annex to Document 55), with the addition of the new clause 8 (see Document 275).

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History