16 Addison to Australian Government

Cablegram D39 LONDON, 8 January 1946, 9.32 p.m.



We are anxious that the question of assumption by the United Nations Organisation of the responsibility for dealing with the refugee problem, the importance of which is steadily increasing, should be discussed at an early session of impending General Assembly. On initiative of United Kingdom Government motion was adopted by Preparatory Commission providing for this, and also for placing the question on the agenda of the Economic and Social Council. [1] The following is an outline of the position as we see it.

2. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association has limited the task of repatriating persons displaced as a result of the war and caring for them and for certain others for a 'reasonable period' in certain areas, but it is essentially a temporary organisation. The inter-Governmental Committee on refugees, which was created to cope with the special emergency situation resulting from Nazi persecutions, is in our view inadequate for dealing with a problem of this magnitude.

3. In the view of the United Kingdom Government, the United Nations Organisation is the most suitable body to tackle a problem of this kind successfully. Its budget provides automatically proper financial machinery, and its assembly offers a suitable forum both for defending the rights of refugees and assuring them of justice, and for ensuring that they are not exploited by any side or party for political or ideological reasons and do not constitute a focus for intrigue.

4. A separate specialised agency outside the framework of the United Nations Organisation would in our view not meet the case.

Its funds would have to be separately voted, and we for our part should have great difficulty in getting Parliament to vote separate grants to a separate International Organisation of this kind. The political problems involved could not be adequately, fully or sufficiently openly discussed by all concerned, and even from the point of view of the Soviet Union and their associates, the position would be less satisfactory, as it would be more difficult to take adequate precautions against the refugee question being used for political purposes.

5. The Russian group may well oppose any scheme of relief for former nationals of East European states who will not or cannot accept new regimes in these states but any such opposition could in our view be better met in the United Nations Assembly than elsewhere. Nor are these the only class of refugees in question.

The victims of totalitarian regimes such as Spanish republican refugees would also benefit by the creation of an adequate refugee organisation within the framework of the United Nations Organisation.

6. Meanwhile, the refugee problem is growing and it is impossible for the United Kingdom Government to continue to participate in its solution on the present unsatisfactory basis. We feel strongly that responsibility must no[w] be jointly shouldered by all United Nations on a contractual basis and that the impending Assembly offers the most favourable opportunity for working out a really adequate International Organisation to deal with the problem.

7. His Majesty's United Kingdom Ambassador Washington has been instructed to approach the United States State Department on these lines.

1 The Preparatory Commission of the United Nations recommended inclusion of 'Matters of urgent importance, including Refugees', on the agenda for the first pan of the first session of the General Assembly, and consideration by the Economic and Social Council of 'complex economic and social problems of the gravest urgency arising out of the war', 'perhaps the most urgent' being refugees. The Council, either on its own initiative or at the Assembly's request, was to review and if necessary improve or replace existing international machinery to deal with the problem.

[AA:A1838/2, 861/1, i]