205 Throssell to Shann

Minute CANBERRA, 31 July 1947


The present wording of point (b) of the Australian proposal for provisional measures under Article 40 is to 'call upon the parties to comply with provisional measures to prevent an aggravation of the situation, namely to cease hostilities immediately and withdraw their troops' [1], the intention apparently being that troops of both parties should only be withdrawn from their points of contact.

2. It is suggested that the proposal should state specifically:-

(i) That troops should be withdrawn by a specified date to the positions they occupied prior to the outbreak of hostilities on July 20th.

(ii) That both parties should advise the Security Council when withdrawal is concluded to their satisfaction.

(iii) That a neutral commission should be appointed by the Security Council to supervise the withdrawal and report on its completion. (This procedure was used successfully by the Council of the League of Nations in the Greek-Bulgarian dispute of 1925.) 3. We have taken the position that the use of military force is, in this case, contrary to the provisions of the Charter. It follows that the unlawful use of that force should not be permitted to gain any advantage. Even if, under the present arrangement, hostilities cease and negotiations are resumed, the continued occupation by Dutch forces of considerable areas of territory previously under Republican administration will obviously prejudice the issue in favour of the Dutch authorities.

4. The cessation of hostilities when the Dutch authorities already claim to have gained their main objectives, if it is not accompanied by the withdrawal of troops to their previous positions, will only succeed in allowing the Dutch forces to consolidate themselves while preventing effective Indonesian resistance.

5. If withdrawal to the positions occupied on 19th July is made as a provisional measure deemed necessary or desirable under Article 40, it will not prejudice the lawful rights, claims or position of the Dutch authorities who would be entitled to resume peacefully and with the support of the United Nations the positions they at present occupy if it were found that the occupation of those positions accorded with established rights. [2]

1 See Document 201.

2 In an annotation on the cited copy, Loomes commented that Article 40 was designed to prevent the aggravation of a situation as it existed at the time of the Security Council's intervention, any 'provisional measures' to be without prejudice to the rights, claims and positions of the parties. To order Dutch forces to withdraw to positions occupied on 19 July would be, Loomes contended, 'to prejudge the justification (or lack of it) on the part of the Dutch to take military or "police" measures'. In Loomes's view, Article, 40 was intended to maintain the status quo to enable the Council to give full consideration to the matter or to allow the parties to negotiate.

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