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

Cablegram UN616 NEW YORK, 2 November 1946, 10.32 p.m.


Assembly 85.

Trusteeship South West Africa.

1. The South African Government recently amended wording of South West African Item on Agenda. It now stands as follows. 'Statement by the Union of South Africa on the outcome of their consultations with the peoples of South West Africa as to the future status of the mandated territory and implementation to be given to the wishes thus expressed.' [1] [As] stated the item squarely raises question whether Assembly can accept information contained in the South African memorandum [2] as genuine evidence of self- determination by peoples of the Territory.

2. This item was referred to the Fourth Committee, where the South African Representative said yesterday that Smuts would make a statement at the commencement of general discussion on Monday.

3. As instructed we have been feeling our way and have made no commitment and indicated no course of action.

4. From the United Kingdom Delegation we have a copy of the reply given by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 23rd October regarding steps taken to ascertain the views of native African peoples of South West Africa on proposed incorporation in the Union. The Prime Minister after explaining the steps as set forth in the South African memorandum added: 'I take this opportunity to say that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are satisfied as to the steps taken by the South African Government to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants. it may be of interest to Honourable Members that the South African Authorities took advantage of the presence in South Africa of Lord Hailey [3] whose great authority on these matters is well known, to ascertain his views on the procedure adopted. He has informed them that he is in no doubt that complete fairness characterised their explanation of the issue upon which the natives were requested to express their opinion, that the opinion of the natives was freely and voluntarily expressed and that the consultations conformed to the normal tribal practice.' 5. The Soviet Group have already indicated strong hostility to incorporation of South West Africa in the Union. Manuilsky said in Plenary Meeting that it was an extraordinary proposal in direct contradiction of the Charter which binds the United Nations to promote development of non-self-governing territories in direction of self-government or independence. This statement and their declared support of the Indian case against South Africa are of a piece with general bid of the Soviet Union for support of colonial and coloured world. It is also consistent with the Soviet view that Article 80 of the Charter binds Mandatory powers to bring their territories under trusteeship without delay. But it confuses Chapters 11 and 12 of the Charter. The South African case will in part rest on Article 73B. [4]

6. We understand that the South African Government is still opposed to bringing South West Africa under the Trusteeship System on the ground that Chapter XII may be held not to contemplate the possibility of subsequent incorporation in trustee state even if the inhabitants desire it. If this Assembly declines to concur in incorporation, the South African intention is (as stated at Geneva in April) to continue to administer territory in accordance with Mandate until other arrangements have been agreed with the United Nations.

7. We learn privately that the United States Delegation discussed with the South African the possibility of appointing a United Nations Commission to report on the wishes of inhabitants but are not minded to press this in view of possibilities of trouble- making among natives and possible awkwardness of precedent.

1 A sign here indicates 'word mutilated'.

2 A memorandum stating the South African case for incorporation and outlining the steps taken for consultation with 'non- Europeans' had been presented to the Secretary-General on 17 October.

3 Lord Hailey, Chairman of the U.K. Colonial Research Committee;

in 1935-39 a member of the League of Nations' Permanent Mandates Commission.

4 Article 73B, while referring to self-government as an aim for dependent territories, also referred to the particular circumstances of territories and the stages of advancement reached by their inhabitants.

[AA:A1067, M46/21/14]