298 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 503 CANBERRA, 25 August 1947, 12.10 p.m.


Your UN.784. [1]


1. Australia took the initiative on this matter and put forward clear-cut propositions for observation of 'cease fire' order and for arbitration based upon Chapter seven of the Charter. These had, in principle, the support of the majority of the Council, and, if they had been put to a vote immediately, they would probably have been carried.

2. Now, as you state, the situation is becoming confused with numerous resolutions and questions of procedure, and a deliberate attempt is being made by the United States, United Kingdom and Belgium to confuse the issue and prevent the Security Council reaching a majority decision. They have adopted these tactics because, in fact, we did have the numbers.

3. You have no course before you but to submit our resolutions for observation an arbitration [2] and let them be accepted or rejected. On arbitration your text in paragraph 2 of UN.784 is acceptable amended by substitution of 'directs' for 'requests'.

During the last meeting, Australia lost the initiative. Moreover, the effective action taken by the Security Council initially, and which did credit to the Council, is now resulting in complete stalemate.

4. We fear that your new resolution [3] is [no] more than a series of requests, whereas, under Chapter 7, the Security Council directs or orders. This type of compromise will reflect upon Australia's initial action as well as the authority of the Security Council.

5. You should point out delaying tactics and move to close the debate and to vote on resolutions before the Council without further debate. This is reasonable, as there has been three weeks' debate and deliberate attempts to prevent a decision. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that Australia's two resolutions are voted on first and compromise is not accepted before Council has voted on main resolutions. There is great danger in a compromise resolution such as outlined in paragraph 1 of your UN.784, as, while you might get an affirmative vote for this, you might find the Council inclined to accept a proposal for observation as being sufficient and unwilling to accept a second step regarding arbitration. In short, endeavour to avoid any compromise and go ahead in the belief you have a majority who agree with Australia in principle and, when put to it, will vote with Australia. If there is an arbitration tribunal of three, there is little reason why all should not be appointed by Security Council if the majority will not favour the alternative course contained in Australia's proposal.

6. In these cases, a weak or futile compromise may be worse than open defeat upon a clear issue. You must be careful of well- meaning advisers who fail to see that Indonesia is at least as much a test case as Greece.

7. Failing decision by Security Council, the Indonesian matter must go to the Assembly by one route or another: and it is far better that it should go there in circumstances showing Australia's consistent, open, democratic policy as declared in the Prime Minister's original statement [4] to which attention might again be drawn.

1 Document 297.

2 See Document 280.

3 Presumably the Australian-Chinese draft resolution concerning observation of the cease-fire rather than the new Australian draft resolution concerning arbitration (see Document 297, paragraphs 1 and 2 respectively).

4 Document 195.

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