Date range
Open the calendar popup.
Open the calendar popup.

43 Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram PC2 PARIS, 29 July 1946, 9.25 p.m.



1. We arrived in Paris late yesterday evening, and with the whole Delegation [1], had a long discussion on the general approach which we should adopt to this Conference. The team is an adequate one and Mr. Beasley and I are certain to work together well.

2. We are unanimous in the general view that the present drafts and rules of procedure can be improved. While Australia's interests in Europe are not as direct and as important as our interests in the Pacific, there are certain specific defects which we should try to have remedied.

3. Procedure. The International rules of procedure which are to be put forward to the Conference by the inviting powers include a two-thirds voting rule for all matters of substance in the plenary sessions and in Commissions. This rule cannot be justified for a Conference of this nature which does not make final decisions but merely recommends to the Council of Foreign Ministers. The effect of it is to virtually prevent even recommendation of amendments to the present drafts. The Soviet Government together with two Russian Republics and with the support of Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia has sufficient voting strength to prevent a two- thirds majority. This is particularly serious when it is realised that countries such as Norway are likely to vote with the group on certain issues. It may even be that the inviting powers will feel obliged to support the drafts as they now stand. If that is so practically no recommendations can result from the Conference and unless there is a recommendation, the four powers under the Moscow decision will probably be precluded from making any modifications whatever of present drafts. This virtual veto on amendment through the two-thirds rule, and which, as I have said cannot be justified in a Conference which is a recommending body, should be resisted, not merely for the sake of this Conference, but, more especially, because it may set a precedent for the far more important Peace Conference with Germany and later with Japan. Mr. Beasley and I and the Delegation are all agreed that we must make a stand on this matter if only to preserve the position for the future.

4. Principles to be followed. The general principles which we propose to follow are those of the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations Charter.

The Atlantic Charter includes the following principles- (a) That there should be no territorial or other aggrandisement of any of United Nations and territorial changes should be made only if they accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.

(b) Every endeavour should be made to further enjoyment by all States, great or small, victorious or vanquished, of access on complementary terms to trade and raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity.

(c) There should be fullest co-operation between all nations with a view to securing for all improved labour standards economic advancement and social security. This principle was subsequently embodied in the United Nations Charter by inclusion of the full employment pledge and is equivalent to principle of freedom from want.

(d) There must be abandonment of the use of force and disarmament of any nation threatening aggression outside its frontiers, and steps should be taken to lighten the peace loving peoples of the burden of armament.

The principles of the United Nations Charter include the principle of application of justice and international law to all situations, to self-determination of peoples, the encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the preservation of territorial integrity and the political independence of each state.

5. Application of Principles. The Delegation considers that there are certain obvious amendments which should obviously be made if these principles are to be carried into effect and they include the following:

(a) Trieste. The present draft includes a proposal for internationalisation of Trieste. This is not objectionable and a different form of internationalisation was suggested by Australia and New Zealand in September last year at the Council of Foreign Ministers. [2] It, however, provides guarantee of Trieste by the Security Council of United Nations. There are two objections to this. First that the Security Council as an Organisation has no power to make such a guarantee which therefore must be regarded as worthless. Either the functions of the Security Council and United Nations would have to be altered or a guarantee if it is to be given, should be given by a group of named countries. A more serious objection is that each of the permanent members of the Security Council can exercise its veto in relation to any subject matter affecting Trieste, including the appointment of a Governor and any administrative changes or procedures which might be required. This veto system would make the proposed Trieste Settlement unworkable because Russia will certainly exercise that veto.

(b) The question of colonies is equally important. The present draft makes a proposal that four powers decide the future of colonies within the next year. This is in effect taking away from Australia and other belligerents represented at the Peace Conference any say on a matter which is of vital importance to Australia and to other members of the Peace Conference. Further, in the event of disagreement, the question will then go to the United Nations, which by that time may consist of some sixty nations some of whom may be ex-enemy states, and forty of whom will be neutrals. Throughout the drafts there are other examples of matters being reserved especially for the four powers. On such cases responsibility should be given to the Peace Conference.

(c) Perhaps even more important than either of these two matters, from an Australian point of view, is the complete absence in the drafts of any attempt to apply economic principles of the charter, and United Nations. On the contrary the present proposals in relation to reparations in our view, are both inconsistent with those principles, and damaging to the interests of Australia and other countries which were in the practice of trading with Italy.

[3] Moreover, the present drafts do not include any proposals which would ensure the best use of European resources for the purpose of building up the living standards of the people of Europe, the free movement of men and materials throughout Europe, and encouragement of a European and world economy which would be the greatest guarantee against present enemy countries being used in the future as a pawn in a new type of Soviet inspired economic aggression. The delegation will therefore put forward amendments and additions to the present drafts to implement the economic principles stated above.

The delegation has, as I have indicated, had only its first meeting and the conference has not yet been convened. The above laid down principles and their immediate application will however give a clear indication of the lines along which the delegation is thinking at the present time.

1 The delegates were Evatt, Beasley and Hodgson, supported by a large team of advisers.

2 See Volume VIII, Document 259.

3 The draft treaty for Italy, for example, envisaged large and specific reparations to the Soviet Union, with reparations to other states to be discussed at the conference.

[AA:A1067, E46/38/14]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History