124 Department of External Affairs to Collings [1]

Cablegram 338 CANBERRA, 18 September 1946

Your 324. ILO Governing Body. Racial discrimination in respect of immigration.

1. Minister does not consider it appropriate for Governing Body to refer matters to United Nations. We would prefer that no resolution on this subject should be adopted, but if matter is referred anywhere it should be to International Labour Conference.

2. For your background information, our Departmental view is that immigration is a matter in which each State should be free to work out its own policy, and we cannot agree that the term 'human rights' as used in the United Nations Charter includes any right of unrestricted migration. To admit any such right would mean that the generally admitted authority of each State to decide what foreign persons to admit into its territory would to a large extent be lost, and it is not considered that any State would be prepared to relinquish this method of control of its population.

Immigration should, it is considered, be regarded as a privilege which is extended to the nationals of another State to enter and take up residence. In none of the suggested international bills of rights or suggested international declarations or conventions on human rights and freedoms is unrestricted migration put forward as a human right or fundamental freedom.

Again, immigration is a question of domestic concern only, within the meaning of Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter.

3. Matter requires delicate handling, as we do not wish to take any step which would start or increase public discussion of this issue. You should however take any practicable diplomatic steps to have matter dropped or postponed, and seek aid at least of United Kingdom and Canadian representatives to this end. [2]

1 Senator J. A. Collings was to lead the Australian delegation to the 29th Session of the Conference of the international Labour Organization, which was to commence in Montreal on 19 September.

2 The conference did not discuss the immigration question, which was placed on the agenda of the 100th Session of the I.L.O.'s Governing Body commencing 7 October. Wynes, who represented Australia at this session, reported subsequently that 'full advantage was taken of the circumstances existing from time to time during the course of both the 99th and 100th Sessions to prevent any discussion arising'.

[AA:A1067, ER46/5/20]