11 Department of External Affairs to Posts

Cablegram unnumbered CANBERRA, 7 January 1946


Dr. Evatt's analysis My mission to London followed upon an invitation from the United Kingdom Government for Australia to be specially represented while the Council of Foreign Ministers settled the proposed treaties of peace between Allies and enemy powers in Europe.

The Council had limited its membership to five powers only, viz.

United Kingdom, United States, Soviet Russia, China and France. It was soon evident that there was no plan to call together a peace conference composed of all the active belligerents who had participated in the Allied victories. Accordingly, it became my duty to invoke, on behalf of Australia, the principle that all Allied Nations, who, like Australia, had a record of active and sustained belligerence against the Axis, were absolutely entitled to participate in the framing of the peace.

War-time procedure of Big Three During the war period we had consistently protested against the tendency of the major Allies to make binding political and territorial commitments without adequate and, sometimes, without any consultation with other active belligerents. A notable instance was the Cairo Declaration. Although vitally affecting the future of the Pacific Australia's knowledge of the declaration was obtained only after the final press communique was issued.

Similar instances could be cited in relation to the European Armistice arrangements. There was even an attempt to exclude active belligerents from the Japanese surrender arrangements, but Australia's strong protest resulted in the participation of all belligerents in the instrument of Surrender.

Belligerents' right to share in peace settlement Australia had always loyally accepted decision of major powers in relation to supreme direction and overriding strategy of the war itself, but we regarded it as quite unjustifiable to extend this wartime practice into the very different period of the peace settlements.

Accordingly, I urged in London, on behalf of Australia, that all the Allied Nations who had been active belligerents had a just claim to share with major powers in framing of the peace.

Australia's policy gained public support from Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and several European nations. In particular Australia demanded that all the conclusions of the major powers as to the terms of the peace settlements should be regarded as provisional only and submitted to a subsequent peace conference of all the the belligerents for full and free discussion, review and amendment.

Australia's submission accepted It is unnecessary to give a detailed account of the fluctuations of all the negotiations; it is sufficient to say that Australia's submissions were accepted in principle and are now substantially embodied in the proposals of the recent Moscow Conference. [1] The principle is of vital importance to Australia for a democratic method of arriving at the peace is just as important as the actual terms of the peace, and it would be utterly unjust to deprive any of the belligerent powers of a fair and proportionate share in making the peace settlements with the enemy or enemies against whom they fought and prevailed. Therefore, the primary object of my mission to London was achieved and Australia will now be afforded a full opportunity of participating in both the European and Pacific peace settlements.


After my mission to London was completed I was appointed by the Government to represent Australia in Washington in the establishment and preliminary working of the Far Eastern Commission to which was assigned the duty of recommending the post-war armistice policy to be imposed upon Japan. Although no formal constitution had been adopted either for the Far Eastern Commission or for the Control Council for Japan it was decided early in November to commence work on the policy for Japan.

Early achievements of Commission Consequently, no less than ten nations, all of whom had participated in the Pacific war, were represented on the Washington Commission, and the only absentee was Soviet Russia. I had the honour, as representative of Australia, of being appointed Chairman of the important Policy Committee of the Commission. The recommendations of this Committee were all adopted in substance by the full Commission for final consideration and approval of the ten Governments represented. [2] This unanimity at the level of the Commission was achieved only by unremitting labour undertaken in the spirit of genuine international cooperation. In the circumstances, the achievements of the Far Eastern Commission in Washington were very considerable.

Proposed veto on Commission decisions Unfortunately, all the good results thus achieved by the Far Eastern Commission are now threatened by the proposal of the Moscow Conference of three Foreign Ministers to give each of four nations, viz. United Kingdom, United States, Russia and China the individual right to veto decisions of the Commission of eleven nations. This proposal is out of keeping with the spirit of deliberations of the Commission at Washington. The veto would mean that each one of four powers would be entitled to overrule the unanimous views of the remaining ten nations of the Commission.

Australian objection to veto procedure In such a connection the application of the veto procedure is most repugnant to us. It was universally recognised at Washington that Australia has taken a leading part in the policy planning of the Far Eastern Commission, moreover, Australia has a stake in the future of the Pacific far greater than any European country can have, and our contribution to the victory over Japan is not less proportionately than that of any of the four powers which now seek to confer upon themselves this very undemocratic special privilege. If this proposal is pressed by Soviet Russia it will be most prejudicial to the continued success of the Commission.

Australia as a Pacific power I should add that both Mr. Attlee and President Truman expressed to me a lively faith in the future development of Australian power and responsibility throughout the Pacific area. The President stated that Australia's future Pacific role must be one of full and active partnership with the leading Pacific powers. On its part the United Kingdom Government is equally conscious of the fact that in relation to the Far East and the Pacific a special status must be accorded to Australia, because in that great area the very fate of our people will be ultimately determined.

Status of Australia increased I have covered shortly the two main objects of my mission to London and Washington. Australia's foreign policy in connection with these and related matters has been put forward with vigour and frankness. One result is that both in Britain and America Australia's prestige to-day stands very high indeed and our stature as a nation of the world is being developed and increased without in any way weakening the bonds of kinship and kingship which indissolubly unite us to the people of Britain. Finally, I desire to acknowledge the sympathetic understanding and support both of the special objects of my mission and of the general Australian viewpoint on foreign affairs displayed by the Press, not only of Australia but of Britain and the United States.

1 See Document 5, note 3.

2 See Volume VIII, Documents 421 and 427.

[AA:A4387, A/46/30]