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55 Cabinet Submission by Makin

Agendum 1228 [CANBERRA, 6 August 1946]



Full Cabinet at its meeting on 17th January, 1946 agreed that a Declaration should be made of the Australian Government's intention to negotiate an appropriate trusteeship agreement bringing the Mandated Territory of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system contemplated by Chapters 12 and 13 of the United Nations Charter.

2. The Australian Delegation on 18th January, 1946, at the General Assembly meeting of the United Nations Organisation made the statement in the terms approved by Cabinet.

3. Cabinet on 17 January also directed that the Departments of External Affairs, External Territories and Defence should consult upon the terms of any draft trusteeship agreement aiming at placing the Territory of New Guinea under the trusteeship provisions of the United Nations Charter. As a result of such consultation a draft agreement has been prepared and a copy is annexed hereto (see Annex W) together with a copy of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Charter (see Annex 'B [1]).

4. The United Nations Charter (Article 79) provides that the terms of the trusteeship agreement should be agreed upon by the 'states directly concerned', including (in the case of a mandated Territory) the mandatory power, and approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is desirable, in view of the initiative taken by Australia in the promotion of the trusteeship system prior to and at the San Francisco Conference, that the terms of the proposed agreement should be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for approval at its next meeting, commencing on 23rd September.

5. Although the meaning of the phrase 'states directly concerned' is not entirely clear, certain other Governments will be informally consulted in regard to the terms of the agreement.

These Governments will be New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States and France, and the consultation will be without prejudice to our understanding of the meaning of that phrase.

6. It is also intended to make a statement to the House in which the draft terms as approved by Cabinet will be included. [2] The statement will describe the two main principles on which the terms are based, namely- (a) Australia's complete and exclusive power of administration over New Guinea with particular reference to our power to take whatever measures are necessary for the defence of the Territory in contrast to the limitations imposed in this respect under the Mandate;

(b) the fact that the only limitation upon our absolute control is an obligation to carry out the duties imposed by the United Nations Charter. This obligation arises from the general duty laid down in the Charter to promote the welfare and advancement of the inhabitants of New Guinea.

7. It is recommended that the terms of the draft trusteeship agreement annexed hereto be approved as suitable for submission to Parliament and then for use as a basis for discussion with the Governments of New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and France, with a view to the submission to the next General Assembly of the United Nations of a draft agreed upon with those states. [3]

Annex 'A'


The Territory of New Guinea has been administered in accordance with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and in pursuance of a Mandate conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised on His behalf by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Charter of the United Nations, signed at San Francisco on 26 June, 1945, provides by Article 75 for the establishment of an international trusteeship system for the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements.

The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia now undertakes to place the Territory of New Guinea under the trusteeship system, on the terms set forth in the present Trusteeship Agreement.

THEREFORE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS, acting in pursuance of Article 85 of the Charter, APPROVES the following terms of trusteeship for the Territory of New Guinea, in substitution for the terms of the mandate under which the Territory has been administered:

ARTICLE 1 The Territory to which this Trusteeship Agreement applies (hereinafter called the Territory) consists of that portion of the island of New Guinea and the groups of islands administered therewith under the Mandate dated 17th December, 1920, conferred upon His Britannic Majesty and exercised by the Government of Australia.

ARTICLE 2 The Government of Australia (hereinafter called the Administering Authority) is hereby designated as the sole authority which will exercise the administration of the Territory.

ARTICLE 3 The Administering Authority undertakes to administer the Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and in such a manner as to achieve in the Territory the basic objectives of the international trusteeship system, which are set forth in Article 76 of the Charter.

ARTICLE 4 The Administering Authority will be responsible for the peace, order, good government and defence of the Territory and for this purpose will have the same powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction in and over the Territory, as if it were an integral part of the Commonwealth of Australia, and will be entitled to apply to the Territory, subject to such modifications as it deems desirable, such laws of the Commonwealth of Australia as it deems appropriate to the needs and conditions of the Territory.

ARTICLE 5 It is agreed that the administering authority, in the exercise of its powers under Article 4, will be at liberty to bring the Territory into a customs, fiscal or administrative union or Federation with other dependent territories under its jurisdiction or control, and to establish common services between the Territory and any or all of those territories, if in its opinion it would be in the interests of the Territory and not inconsistent with the basic principles of the trusteeship system to do so.

ARTICLE 6 The Administering Authority further undertakes to apply in the Territory the provisions of such international agreements and such recommendations of the specialised agencies referred to in Article 57 of the Charter as are, in the opinion of the Administering Authority, suited to the needs and conditions of the Territory and conducive to the achievement of the basic objectives of the trusteeship system.

ARTICLE 7 The Administering Authority may take all measures in the Territory which it considers desirable to provide for the defence of the Territory and for the maintenance of international peace and security.

1 Not published here.

2 Chifley presented the statement to the House of Representatives on 7 August.

3 Cabinet approved the recommendation contained in the Agendum on 6 August.

4 Subsequent versions, including that conveyed to the Australian Embassy in Washington in cablegram 1178 of in August, substituted the word 'objectives' for 'principles'.

[AA:A2700, VOL. 29]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History