Cablegram 560 LONDON, 31 July 1946, 1.40 a.m.
The following is the full text of Dr. Evatt's speech at to-day's
meeting of the Paris Conference. Begins.
We meet here because we have been victorious comrades in arms.
Together we have defeated the aggression of the Axis and their
satellites. By united efforts and common sacrifices we have
overthrown great tyrannies and won a new birth of liberty.
First of all. We do right to recall the great achievements of the
leaders in the struggle. Of the French to whom we pay special
tribute at this centre of civilisation. Of the British who stood
so firm even when almost alone. Of the Russians whose epic
resistance to Hitler was a turning point in the European war, and
of the people of the United States whose effort has been of
supreme significance in the Far East as well as in Europe, and
last but not least of our Chinese Allies who held fast against
Japan during long years of indescribable suffering.
Our general standpoint as to the status of this Conference is
clear and definite. Our object has been to make this, the first
Peace Conference, a reality and not a mere formality, to do
everything possible to ensure that at this meeting of 21 nations
the peace to come is based upon the principles of justice and
right, and is attained by democratic methods. The war we have
fought was a peoples war. We are here to advance a peoples peace.
We are only servants and ministers in the cause of peace and
justice for all peoples.
I have referred to the deeds of the five major powers, but the
title of the other 16 countries to take part in the making of the
peace settlements derives from the active part each has taken in
the defeat of the enemy states in Europe.
Australia's title to peace making
Australia's own efforts illustrate this fact, and I cite them for
that purpose. Twice in this generation Australia's sons crossed
the world for the defence of freedom in Europe. Twice they have
taken a worthy part in the defeat of those who set out to dominate
Europe and the world.
As we meet here, in company with the other nations who have shared
the sacrifices and contributed substantially to our common
victory, my thoughts turn to my own countrymen who fought and died
so that we and not our enemies should make the peace. I think of
the many thousands of Australian airmen who fought the enemy over
Europe and the Middle East throughout the whole six years of the
war. I think of the great campaigns waged by the A.I.F. in North
Africa and the Mediterranean until the ferocious and decisive
battle of El Alamein was fought and won. I think of the help given
by the Australian Navy in delivering crippling blows at crucial
moments against the Italian Fleet and of the heavy toll levied
upon our sailors on nearly all the seven seas. As General
MacArthur has said, Australia's war effort in the Pacific struggle
against Japan was exceeded only by the massive effort of the
United States Forces in that vast theatre of the world war.
This is not even a bare outline of Australia's contribution. Yet
that contribution is paralleled by the bitter sacrifices and
supreme achievements of the other 16 countries to whom I have
referred, and so, in the name of Australia's fighting men who from
beginning to end gave themselves without stint to the war in
Europe and Africa, and to the war against Japan, I salute their
comrades in arms represented here to-day. Australians will never
forget those beside whom they have fought, whether it be those,
like the Greeks, whose gallant resistance to overwhelming Axis
forces they were privileged to share, or those who, from 1939
onwards, came across the seas with them from distant continents,
from New Zealand, from India, from South Africa, from Canada, or
those who carried on the desperate war of resistance in their own
countries throughout the bitter years of enemy occupation, and
rose in arms to throw off their Axis oppressors.
Right of participation by all belligerents
It is universally admitted that the contributions to victory made
by the peoples represented here warrant their being consulted
about the making of this peace. The real question which has
concerned us was whether consultation by the major powers
represented the full extent of our rights or whether active
partners in the war should not also be entitled to active
participation as partners in the making of the peace. Australian
opinion on this point of fundamental principle was never in doubt.
The right of making the peace should belong to all those nations
who have been partners in achieving the common victory.
It seemed at least to Australia doubtful whether the Potsdam
Agreement was clear enough to guarantee to the actual belligerents
the right of full participation in the peace making process.
Accordingly I was deputed by the Australian Government to place
the case before members of the Council of Foreign Ministers then
meeting in London in September last. There I urged that those
countries which have made active and sustained contributions in
the European sphere of war were clearly entitled to participate in
the peace making, that a fair and democratic peace could be
obtained only by fair and democratic procedures and that the
justice of the peace settlements depended to a large extent upon
the active participation of a wider group of belligerents than
those of three or four or five major powers.
Australia was actively supported in its claims by all the other
British Dominions, and also by the smaller European countries, and
our claims in no way detracted from the primary and necessary
leadership of the major powers. But we insisted that meantime
belligerents were entitled not merely to the right of
consultation, but to equal rights of actual participation in the
peace making process.
I now quote a few sentences from Byrnes' broadcast address of 5th
October, 1945, after the requests of Australia (and other
belligerents) had been made public. At Berlin, he said, it
certainly was never intended that the three powers present or the
five powers constituting the Council should take unto themselves
the making of the final peace. The Berlin Declaration setting up
the Council begins with the statement, 'The Conference reached the
following agreement for the establishment of a Council of Foreign
Ministers to do the necessary preparatory work for the peace
settlements'. The Council was not to make the peace settlements,
but to do the necessary preparatory work for the peace settlement.
Mr. Byrnes' statement was completely satisfactory in principle.
However, in the subsequent Moscow agreement of December last the
Council of Foreign Ministers was accorded a right not expressly
given to it in the Potsdam Agreement, i.e. the right of final
review of the Peace Conferences recommendation. However, it is
certain that the Moscow Agreement intends at least that, as an
essential condition of the concluding stages of making peace with
the five enemy states, recommendations should proceed from this
Conference to the Council of Foreign Ministers. This intention
should be carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter.
otherwise what comes out of this Conference will be imperfect, and
of small significance.
Other declarations which have been made are also important.
Speaking in London at the end of the meeting of the Council of
Foreign Ministers last year M. Molotov said, in reference to the
proposed Peace Conference, that such a Conference is convoked in
order to name improvements or changes in the drafts, otherwise
Conferences are not necessary, and Mr. Byrnes, speaking after the
Moscow meeting, said that the Moscow procedure contemplates and
requires that the nations represented at the Conference formally
and publicly make their recommendations. Certainly the United
States would not agree to a final treaty which arbitrarily
rejected such recommendations. Certainly the great powers which
drew up the draft Charter for the United Nations at Dumbarton Oaks
did not ignore the changes suggested by the smaller powers at San
Francisco; and, speaking of the Peace Conference, Senator
Vandenberg thus referred on the 21st May last to the American
policy on the matter. It is a policy which invites all of our
partners in the war instead of a closed corporation of big powers
to have a proper voice in the making of the treaties and the
writing of the peace which result from the common victories which
we all helped win. More recently in July last, Senator Vandenberg
said after the Peace Conference the last word again reverts to the
four great powers in the Council of Foreign Ministers.
But the conscience of the Allied world will have spoken in the
interim, and it speaks with superlative authority. Without making
any further analysis of the precise meaning of the Potsdam and
Moscow declarations enough has been said to justify certain
conclusions. Each of the 21 nations has equal rank and voice in
this Conference. We have a big job to carry out and we should
proceed to its performance with the utmost despatch. For it is
absolutely clear that in these final stages of the peace making
the greatest possible weight will be attached to the deliberations
and recommendations of the nations which admittedly have actively
waged war with substantial military force against European enemy
states. Much depends upon the question whether in practice the
sponsoring powers here will follow the example of San Francisco
and be prepared to hear their co-belligerents not as suppliants or
as advocates or as mere consultants, but as partners who have
proved their worth as partners in the great struggle against our
enemies. The spirit which will animate this Conference is far more
important than the mere literal adherence to declarations which
have been made in the past.
Principles of peace making
I, therefore, turn to consider what are the general principles
which should govern the review of the draft treaties.
First, we are not justified in imposing our common will upon the
defeated enemy in any spirit of mere vindictiveness or caprice.
Our aim is justice. Looking to the future as well as to the past
for we are, in a sense, the trustees of all the United Nations, of
all the ordinary men and women throughout the world who look to us
to give an enduring and a just peace to them and their children.
However concerned we may be in the interests of our own countries,
we must never lose sight of the fact that all the peoples of the
world have a stake in this peace.
If we approach our task in this spirit we shall keep in mind
certain fundamental principles. First, we should adhere to our
solemn undertakings in the Atlantic Charter and the United Nations
Charter and try to ensure that the principles set out in these
Charters are given the fullest possible application in the Peace
Treaties. Second, we should ensure that our recommendations and
decisions are based on an impartial and thorough examination of
all the relevant facts affecting each of the questions raised.
Third, we should be careful not to impose such unjustifiable
burdens and humiliations upon the peoples of the five States as
will prevent the growth of genuine democratic forces or foster the
resurgence of Fascism. Fourth, our main objective should be the
attainment of a just and durable overall peace structure and not
merely the settlement one by one of a series of particular and
isolated claims by individual nations against their neighbours.
We fully appreciate the work already represented by the draft
treaties which the Council of Foreign Ministers has prepared for
our consideration; but, it is the obligation as well as the right
of the nations which have not shared in the preparation of these
drafts to analyse them in the light of sound general principles
and to make such constructive criticisms and specific
recommendations as are called for. Accordingly, the Australian
Delegation will, like the other delegations, draw attention to
those provisions in the draft treaties which can and should be
improved. Wherever necessary we shall make suggestions for the
inclusion of additional provisions on matters that have either
escaped the attention of the drafting powers, or would appear to
be necessary to give full effect to the principles of the Atlantic
Charter and the principles of the United Nations Charter,
principles which are binding on all represented at this
Conference. Proposals and suggestions of the Australian Delegation
will be made from time to time in the appropriate Commissions and
Committees. Here I shall only refer to some of the main questions
that, in our opinion, require examination, and indicate briefly
our provisional point of view.
First. There are the territorial provisions of the treaties. The
importance of territorial changes achieved by war has often been
exaggerated. For many people in the frontier regions of this
small, crowded continent, the question as to which side of a
boundary they live on is really less pressing than that of how to
make a reasonable living for themselves and their children. It is
not surprising that many people are inclined to cry 'bread before
borders, butter before guns'. So far as particular frontier
adjustments are concerned, Australia adheres to the view we have
consistently expressed in the United Nations Organisation that
before a decision is reached, there should be a thorough
examination of the relevant facts in each case. No doubt the
Council of Foreign Ministers has had much material placed before
it. There is every reason why this Conference should have access
to this same material, and any other new facts relevant to
particular frontier changes. I would stress the fact that we are
concerned not merely with the individual proposals considered in
isolation from each other, but also with the wider implications,
political and economic, of the changes considered as a whole.
The Australian Delegation will, therefore, favour where necessary
the appointment of a special Fact Finding Committee to prepare and
report on material required by the several Committees concerned
with the frontier provisions of the various treaties.
On the question of the Italian colonies, the Australian Delegation
consider that the making of decisions as to the future
administration of the colonies, should rest not with the Foreign
Ministers Council as such, but with all those countries which like
Australia and the other British Dominions, have through their
great losses and sacrifices in liberating such territories, earned
a vital interest in their future disposal or administration.
The main principle of the proposed settlement for Trieste is
similar to that submitted by Australia and New Zealand to the
Council of Foreign Ministers as long ago as September last, but
some of the features of the solution may prove unworkable in
practice. It seems too that we shall be brought face to face again
with the further difficulty that it is proposed to give the
Security Council important discretionary powers in relation to
Trieste, and that under the Charter of the United Nations
Organisation any proposed decision of the Security Council may be
blocked by the veto of any one permanent member of the Council.
For these reasons it seems essential that the Trieste proposal
should receive the closest scrutiny from this Conference.
I now mention the economic and financial aspects of the treaty,
including the reparations proposals. I submit that these aspects
require close review before the treaties will be satisfactory from
the point of view of a just overall settlement. One overriding
principle of the settlement should be to ensure economic co-
operation between the five countries and their neighbours. We feel
that the Council of Foreign Ministers has, not unnaturally,
concentrated its main attention upon political and territorial
problems rather than upon economic and social arrangements. It is
our hope that all the members of the Council of Foreign Ministers
will welcome a strengthening of the treaties in their economic and
social aspects. The reparations provisions of the treaties are
admittedly incomplete and important questions are left unanswered.
Article 64 of the draft treaty with Italy certainly gives an
impression that the U.S.S.R. is to be given some degree of
precedence over other claimants who suffered heavily at Italy's
hands. It may be too that several of the proposals would tend to
assure to the U.S.S.R. a privileged position in the future
direction of the trade and economic life of all the countries
These reparations provisions need precise clarification. For that
purpose the Conference is entitled to receive the fullest
information as to all the facts and reports on reparations placed
before the Council of Foreign Ministers. In the absence of that
information, a fair and impartial review of the treaties is
obviously impossible. Speaking more generally, the Australian
Delegation takes the realistic view that if reparations are
exacted to a point which seriously retards the economic
rehabilitation of the nations paying them, the general level of
trade and living standards of other countries and peoples will be
In principle, the exaction of properly assessed reparations is
reasonable and just, but the treaty should provide assurance that
reparations now exacted will not create a situation of serious
economic concern to European countries. In considering the problem
of reparations, it is important to keep in mind that some of the
countries with which we are to make peace have for a long period
been subject to economic domination by Germany. In such cases
their economic structures, including their industrial development
and distribution of resources, have been distorted by the
practical compulsion which required them to fit into the economic
needs of Germany. The readjustments now to be imposed are of such
a character that a major reorientation of their economic
structures may prove to be beyond their slender resources.
This interdependence in the economy of European countries
illustrates the principle that reparation claims should be dealt
with as an integrated whole and not in isolation from each other,
or in a way which will once again establish economic subservience
on the part of the contributing country.
European economic organisation
The economic questions are so important that the peace treaties
could usefully include provision for closer economic co-operation
between European states. Agriculture, steel, coal, hydroelectric
power, and all the major resources of Europe wherever situated
should become available to all the peoples of Europe. While the
federation of European states may not be practicable, some of the
benefits of such a system could be achieved by encouraging the
establishment of economic organisations on a European or regional
basis. This would not prejudice the real autonomy of each national
unit. It again would be of practical value if all the European
countries affected by the proposed treaties became members of the
Food and Agricultural Organisation, the International Wheat
Council, the International Labour Office, and other organisations
designed to promote the twin objectives of full employment and
higher living standards. It is by such practical measures of
economic co-operation that the gaping wounds of Europe may
gradually be healed. We must do our utmost to promote such
economic arrangements that full employment and high living
standards may ultimately be secured for all European peoples.
Throughout international discussions on economic policy Australia
fought successfully for one principle of full employment. Not only
for domestic but for international reasons, in the realisation
that a low level of employment in any part of the world inevitably
threatens employment standards elsewhere. Nothing can be more
disastrous or more likely to lead to a resurgence of war and
Fascist aggression than unemployment. Poverty and low standards of
life, poverty and depression in Europe menace peace and
prosperity, not only there but throughout the world.
A positive peace
The task in which we are engaged, is not the mere perpetuation of
Armistice terms. Not the mere cessation of a period of armed
conflict, not the mere preparation for another interval between
European wars. True peace is not the mere absence of war but a
positive and actively beneficial state of affairs and so the
ultimate task before us is nothing less than creating the
framework for a renewal of European civilisation, but civilisation
in larger freedom. That is a noble enterprise.
It is fitting that countries like Australia should make their
contribution to this great objective. In the Pacific we are
inheritors of European civilisation, and in a sense trustees for
it. in the field of arms we have twice come to Europe to redress a
balance heavily tilted in favour of tyranny. Our contribution in
the field of social and economic well being may equally help to
prevent the utter disaster of another European war. We cannot
accept the cynical view that history must, of necessity, repeat
itself. The fact that the war chapters of history have been
repeated in the past is largely due to the lack of foresight on
the part of some of those who imposed the peace.
The peoples of the world look to this Conference to help
substantially in framing a peace based on social justice and
economic betterment. Only by such a peace can freedom from fear
and freedom from want be ultimately assured to the men and women
and particularly to the children of this continent. Ends.