200 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 409 CANBERRA, 31 July 1947, 10.15 a.m.


The Australian Government desires to draw the attention of the Security Council to the present situation in Indonesia and to request the Security Council, under Articles 39 and 40, immediately to order the cessation of hostilities and to recommend to the two parties, that is the Netherlands Government and the Republican Government, that they give effect to Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement [1] concluded at Cheribon on 15th November, 1946. For the information of members of the Security Council, the Article reads as follows:-

(Here quote Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement.) 2. The Australian Government takes this action after ten days of intense diplomatic negotiation by which it was hoped that the two parties, in accordance with Article 33 of the Charter, could settle the dispute by mediation or arbitration. It was only when these possibilities had been fully explored and when the Australian Government was convinced that there was no prospect of an early cessation of hostilities that the matter was brought to the notice of the Security Council.

3. The matter is raised with reference to Articles 39 and 40, and not in the way previous matters have been drawn to the attention of the Security [Council] under Article 35, for the reason that it was felt that the first duty of the Security Council is to call a halt to hostilities which are each day bringing their toll of human life and also of destruction of property. It is recommended to the Security Council that the two parties be asked to give effect to Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement, because the Security Council itself, without a prolonged investigation, is not in a position to pass judgment on the merits of the situation or to recommend a solution. Moreover, the two parties, having previously agreed to this method of resolving difficulties in the event of disputes, it is proper that the Security Council should take note of this and at least as a first step seek a solution by this means.

4. The step which the Security Council is being asked to take immediately, that is cessation of hostilities, is a provisional measure under Article 40. Such provisional measures are not attempts by the Security Council to fix responsibility on either party, and the Charter itself provides that they shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims or position of the parties concerned.

Jurisdiction of the Security Council 5. These are the immediate reasons why the matter has been raised.

An important question is whether the Security Council has jurisdiction. The fact is that warfare exists. It exists between a sovereign power member of the United Nations and a party not yet a member of the United Nations, but whose membership as part of the United States of Indonesia has already been contemplated in an agreement with that sovereign power. [2] The de facto authority of the Republican Government has been recognised, not only by the Netherlands, but also by other Governments, including the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government. Moreover, treaty relations have been entered into between the Republican Government and the Governments of Syria and Egypt.

6. Furthermore, the external effects of the existence of hostilities in Indonesia have serious international repercussions throughout many countries in the world.

7. I do not wish, therefore, to discuss at length the procedural issue. The one fact which is before the Security Council is the fact of hostilities, and the Security Council has a duty and an obligation to bring about a cessation of those hostilities, and, for that reason, it is the duty of members of the Security Council to avoid, rather than to create, legal or procedural difficulties.

Procedure to be adopted 8. It has been the policy of the Australian Government in all previous cases to insist upon a full inquiry into the facts, but in this case no inquiry is needed to be aware of the existence in Java of a war. It may be necessary at a later stage to arrange for such an investigation. At this time, however, the Australian Government is concerned only to ensure the immediate cessation of hostilities.

9. For these reasons, it is not considered that the Council should even hear the parties. It is not necessary for the Council to invite the Indonesian Government to participate under Article 32, as this Article must surely apply at a stage when the Council is considering the merits of the case, not where such merits are, as in this case, immaterial for the exercise of the Council's powers.

10. The Government of Indonesia, however, has already declared its readiness to accept the decisions of the Council. (We will confirm this as soon as possible.) 11. The Australian Government has raised this matter in a way in which it is hoped will enable the Security Council to deal with the situation immediately and effectively at this present session, without any adjournment or without another meeting on the subject.

What is asked for is a decision that the two parties should cease hostilities immediately and a recommendation to the two parties that they resort to the Article in their own agreement to which I have referred. This decision should be taken unanimously, as no Government will want to be responsible for the continuation of hostilities and the suffering and loss involved. Nor should there be any disagreement on the question of procedure that the matter be referred to the two parties under their agreement. This is the reasonable course and the only other precaution the Security Council need take is that the matter be left on the Agenda until both parties have reported a satisfactory settlement.

1 See Appendix I.

2 See Article 13 of the Linggadjati Agreement (Appendix I).

[AA:A1838/274, 854/10/4, i]