293 Shann to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 20 August 1947


In view of reports that the Dutch authorities in Java are seeking permission to resume 'police action' with the view of eliminating Djokjakarta [1], it is suggested that our representative on the Security Council should have a counter measure ready to place before the Council immediately such reports are confirmed.

If the Dutch carry out the action proposed by Van Mook, the Security Council will be compelled to impose enforcement measures under Articles 41 [2] and 42 [3]; the alternative will be to surrender any semblance of authority or prestige it may have gained.

It may be argued that such a move would be vetoed outright and is therefore out of line with our 'workability' policy. I suggest, however, that we should first attempt to have the solution we consider morally and politically right accepted by the Council. If the first objective is defeated, we should then strive to find a basis of agreement on a compromise. The policy of 'workability' should not be an excuse for half measures in the first instance.

It is also reported by the A.B.C. [4] that the Indonesians have been ordered to fight on. The Security Council action should therefore apply equally to both parties.

I suggest, therefore, that Colonel Hodgson be instructed to propose a resolution to the effect that the Security Council notes the report from Batavia Radio on 19th August requesting authority for the resumption of police measures, and the report that the Republican Government has ordered its troops to fight on. The Security Council would consider such action by the parties a violation of its decision of 1st August and a breach of the obligations accepted by them. In the event of such action being taken the Security Council would have no alternative but to consider the application of Article 41. [5]

It is suggested that the only effective means of ensuring that hostilities do not break out again now or at some future date is the immediate withdrawal of the troops of both parties to specified points as a provisional measure under Article 40, and the observation of withdrawal by representatives of the Security Council. [6]

1 A report to this effect broadcast by Batavia Radio was transmitted to the Department of External Affairs by the Shortwave Division of the Department of Information on 19 August. An official denial of the report was subsequently broadcast on Hilversum Radio.

2 Under Article 41 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council may decide on measures short of the use of force to give effect to its decisions and may call upon members of the United Nations to apply such measures which may include interruption of economic relations and communication links and severance of diplomatic relations.

3 Should the Security Council consider that measures taken under Article 41 of the United Nations Charter (see note 2) would be or have been proved inadequate, Article 42 allows the Council to authorise such military, air or naval action as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.

4 Australian Broadcasting Commission.

5 In a separate minute to Burton dated 20 August, Throssell advised that a reported statement from Radio Djokjakarta relating to an order 'to fight on' was not accurate so that reference to the Republic of Indonesia could be omitted from the suggested draft resolution on measures under Article 41.

6 In an annotation dated 20 August on the cited copy, Shann informed Throssell that the minute had been discussed with Burton, but that there was 'no change'.

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