73 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 879 LONDON, 7 February 1946, 3.05 p.m.


Assembly 65.

1. Report of the Interim Committee on Headquarters recommending that permanent headquarters of the United Nations should be established in the North Stamford - Greenwich district about 40 miles from New York City was presented last night to the Assembly Committee on Headquarters.

2. Hodgson in a vigorous speech opposed the adoption of the report. He traced history of consideration of subject pointing out that both it the Preparatory Commission and the Interim Committee all sites except those near Boston or New York had been eliminated arbitrarily without any examination of facts. The Australian Delegation had voted against this limitation at every stage taking the view that after the Preparatory Commission had established certain qualifications and criteria for headquarters all these criteria should have been applied. In practice the only criterion applied had been distance from a large city and at no time had a close examination been made of all information available. This procedure was- (a) Unjust to those authorities which had made other proposals, and (b) Was unlikely to result in selection of site best suited to the United Nations.

Primary concern must be to choose the best site available having regard not only to the present but to the future needs and numerous qualifications of various sites should be carefully weighed one against the other. The Australian Delegation objected to the adoption of the report of the Interim Committee- (a) Because the Interim Committee had gone beyond powers delegated to it by the Preparatory Commission in recommending a single site in a limited area;

(b) The report had been made without examination of all sites offered or of all information available;

(c) We were by no means convinced that the site recommended was the best obtainable and in this connection we referred particularly to climatic conditions, displacement of local population, nearness to New York and risk that United Nations capital would be dominated by New York, highly unsatisfactory proposals in regard to temporary headquarters at New York and the likelihood that as the proposed site was in one of the most expensive estates in the world the initial cost of acquiring land would be enormous. 3. Finally Australia moved that the report be rejected, that the Assembly take steps for the selection of temporary headquarters in the United States and that a special committee be appointed by the Assembly to report to the September meeting re permanent headquarters.

4. So far we have obtained support from Bolivia and partial support from Egypt but have been strongly opposed by the United Kingdom and Brazil on all points of our arguments and by Uruguay on the argument that the action of the Interim Committee was ultra vires. One of the weakest sections of the Interim Committee Report is that concerning temporary headquarters and as the debate proceeds we may be able to gain additional support for an attack from this angle. The Committee is meeting again this morning.

[AA:A1838 T189, 852/9/1]