157 Department of External Affairs to Evatt

Memorandum CANBERRA, 7 October 1946

REPORT OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ON REFUGEES AND CONSIDERATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ORGANISATION (IRO) 1. The Economic and Social Council, with the dissent of the U.S.S.R., Ukraine and Yugoslavia, at its third meeting adopted a revised draft constitution for the proposed I.R.O. [1]

2. The main results arising from the Council's discussions were- (a) A scaling down of the budget estimate for the first year from approximately $250m. to $150m.

(b) Deferment of any scale of contributions pending consideration by the General Assembly of the Report of the Committee on Contributions of the United Nations.

(c) An offer by the governments of the United States and United Kingdom to contribute nearly three-quarters of the revised first year budget of approximately $150m. (Press report of 7th October).

(d) Continuing political differences as between the countries of origin and others concerning the definition of refugees and displaced persons and related questions.

3. On October 2nd, prior to receipt of information as to the above budgetary changes, an Inter-departmental Meeting of representatives of External Affairs, Treasury, Immigration and Post War Reconstruction agreed to submit a joint agendum to Cabinet on the question of Australian participation in the IRO. At this meeting differing views were expressed by the Departments of the Treasury and External Affairs as to the merits of Australian participation in the IRO [2] and it was agreed that these views would be set out in the joint agendum. [3] The agendum, is now under discussion with Treasury and it is not yet known whether they wish, in the light of the above budgetary reductions, to press their objections to Australian participation.

4. For your information and any directions you may wish to give a submission concerning Australian participation in the IRO is attached . [4]

1 Resolution 18(III), 3 October. See also Volume IX, Document 290.

2 F. H. Wheeler of the Treasury had argued that, failing any 'special considerations', Treasury could not recommend expenditure beyond that already committed to UNRRA on a problem which was primarily European. At the same meeting Immigration Dept representatives stressed difficulties of settling displaced persons, and existing Australian commitments to British migration.

3 A submission did not go to Cabinet until April 1947.

4 The External Affairs Dept view was argued in the submission:

Australia, as an active participant in the existing organisation, had publicly promised support for the new organisation and, as a member of the United Nations, could not ignore an accepted U.N.

responsibility; the problem affected political stability in Europe; proposed financial contributions bad been scaled down; and membership imposed no obligation to alter established immigration policy. It recommended that Australia express willingness to participate provided the organisation was established as a short- term body minimum financial obligations upon members and that, in the General Assembly, Australia should support the principle of voluntary contribution and urge emphasis on repatriation.

[AA:A1838/238, 861/1, ii]