48 Australian Delegation, Paris Peace Conference, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram PC5 PARIS, 1 August 1946, 1.45 p.m.


Report 4.

1. At yesterday morning's meeting of the Committee on procedure which is still the most important aspect of the work of the Conference so far, the Yugoslav delegate opened with a long statement the effect of which was to plead endorsement of the proposals on procedure made by the four powers. He went so far as to suggest that final recommendations on the treaties should be the business of the countries immediately interested and that the views of other powers represented at the Conference should simply be 'objectively' taken into account. He included in his statement a resolution in general terms expressing agreement with all the Rules of Procedure proposed by the Council of Foreign Ministers.

The Netherlands delegate followed with a satisfactory statement putting emphasis on the rights of the medium powers in the Conference and opposing the two thirds majority rule. He completely supported the Australian point of view that unless there was some recommendation, the Council of Foreign Ministers would not be able to place the matter on its agenda.

In reply to the Yugoslav delegate, the Minister put strongly the Australian point of view that application of the two thirds majority rule would go far to nullify the work of the Conference as it might mean that in fact very few firm recommendations would go forward to the Council of Foreign Ministers. He said that the object should be to arrange procedure of the Conference in such a way as to enable recommendations to be put to the Council of Foreign Ministers before the Conference rose. Principal Australian concern was to see that some means were arranged whereby the views of the Conference could be effectively put to the four powers. it might not in practice prove necessary in many cases to have formal voting procedure at all as was the case to a large extent at San Francisco. But in any event it was certain that the two thirds majority rule would prevent the Conference from expressing its full mind. He asked that before this and other questions of procedure were gone into in detail, the Yugoslav motion should be put in a more precise form and circulated in writing.

Molotov spoke at length in defence of two thirds majority rule. He suggested that Australia was leading the Anglo-Saxon group and that the majority voting procedure was designed to give this group consistent voting superiority. He made no attempt to answer our arguments which were substantially accepted by Greece. General debate closed and specific amendments will be considered today.

The Netherlands is moving, on Australian suggestion, the simple majority rule, as the Minister thinks that this is better tactics.

Relations with the Netherlands are very cordial.

2. The Conference met in Third Plenary Session in the afternoon.

Speakers were Russia, Australia and Brazil. The Minister's speech was very well received and Attlee expressed thanks and congratulations came from all delegations except the U.S.S.R. and its satellites.

[AA:A1067, E46/38/14]