304 Evatt to Dixon

Cablegram 1278/81 CANBERRA, 21 October 1943

1. Your 1175. [1] I have informed the American Legation of our intention to accept Relief Agreement. You will sign on behalf of the Australian Government and represent us at first meeting of Council. [2]

2. Committee work on rules and regulations and general policy obviously requires attention of someone with general rather than economic qualifications and I think you should be present yourself at all these discussions.

3. Stirling is being brought from London to Canberra for consultation and on way out will act as one of delegation to Conference. Suggest others should be McCarthy and McDougall.

4. General policy on relief is indicated in my recent statement on Foreign Affairs:

'While in the United States members of the Mission took part in conversations relating to the proposed Relief and Rehabilitation Agreement. Last July the text of a draft agreement for this purpose was published and the Prime Minister then publicly announced that the Australian Government welcomed the proposal and would do its share to assist in supplying relief to those peoples who were in need. This first text has since been revised in the light of comments and criticisms made upon it by various governments, including the Australian Government. The main obligation which the agreement casts upon signatories is to contribute towards "the relief of victims of war in any area under the control of any of the United Nations through the provision of food, fuel, clothing, shelter, and other basic necessities, medical and other essential services".

I would feel far happier if Australia was a permanent member of the Central Committee of the new organisation which is to comprise representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, and China. At the same time the Central Committee is ultimately subordinate to the Council which is composed of all signatories. Australia cannot refuse the duty of active collaboration with such a body, especially as this country has always been to the fore in similar measures of relief wherever disasters have caused famine or want in other countries. We have therefore informed the United States Government that we will sign the agreement and will be represented at the first meeting of the Council on 10th November next in the United States.' [3]

5. It is most important that we have representation at least on both Committees of Supplies and Far Eastern Region.

1 Dispatched 11 October (FA:A3195, 1943, 1.41857).

2 The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Agreement was signed by the representatives of forty-four nations at Washington on 9 November. The first meeting of the UNRRA Council was held at Atlantic City, New Jersey, from 10 November until 1 December.

3 See Department of External Affairs, Current Notes on International Affairs, vol. 14, no. 8, 15 October 1943, pp. 260-1.

[AA:A989, 43/735/751/5]