303 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN793 NEW YORK, 26 August 1947, 10.17 p.m.


Security 466.


Belgian proposal for reference to International Court [1] was rejected today by four (United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium) to one (Poland) with six abstentions.

2. We made it clear that in principle we favoured reference of legal questions and legal aspects of disputes to the International Court. Circumstances of each case differed however and we were opposed to reference of Indonesian question on following grounds:-

(a) Fact that case would be sub judice might be used as argument to delay or obstruct execution of Council decisions already taken.

(b) Majority of Council including Australia had no doubt on jurisdiction and had in fact acted under Chapter VII with implication that enforcement measures would be used if provisional measures under Article 40 were ineffective.

(c) Automatic reference to Court of questions involving interpretation of Article 2(7) was rejected by San Francisco Conference and Charter envisages that as a general rule Organs will decide their own competence.

(d) When question of jurisdiction had arisen previously for example in Iranian and Spanish cases [2] it had not been referred to Court.

3. Polish resolution calling on Indonesia and Netherlands to adhere strictly to Council recommendation of 1st August was passed by 10 to 0 with United Kingdom abstaining.

4. Sjahrir announced at end meeting that Indonesian Government would comply with all Resolutions of Council. All facilities would be given to Consular Commission. On behalf of his Government he accepted Council's offer of good offices and requested Council to assist settlement by appointment of Committee of Three. He hoped the appointment of the Committee would result in early arbitration. He was consulting with his Government and hoped to advise shortly which Member of Council Indonesia had selected for Committee. (Sjahrir informed us privately that he had advised his Government to nominate Australia. We presume you will have in mind possibility that Australia may be asked to appoint a representative at short notice. We presume the Committee will sit in Indonesia.) 5. Van Kleffens stated simply that his Government was using every diligence to make its attitude known as soon as possible. Our judgment based on conversations here is that Netherlands will accept the good offices and agree to establishment of Committee but will ask that it confine its work to mediation.

6. President has asked us to direct your attention to yesterday's Resolution (our 784 [3] paragraph 1). We assume you will inform us when you have instructed Ballard or Stuart [4] so that we may advise President.

7. General opinion is that results on whole are very satisfactory and we obtained the best that could have been expected especially as it seemed a complete deadlock at one stage. Australia has received wide commendation for her initiative and perseverance.

Only unfortunate aspect is that in spite of our objectivity we have been in opposition throughout to Western European interests.

It is essential our representative on group of observers should continue to adopt a most impartial and objective approach on all issues coming within ambit of its reports to Council.

1 See Document 297, paragraph 3.

2 For summaries of the Security Council's consideration of the Iranian and Spanish questions in 1946, see United Nations, Yearbook of the United Nations 1946-47, New York, 1947, pp.327-36, 345-51.

3 Document 297.

4 F. H. Stuart had arrived in Batavia on 18 August to relieve Ballard as Consul-General for two months. On 26 August, however, consequent upon the Security Council's decisions of 25 August, the Australian Consul in Dili, C. Eaton, was instructed to take over as acting Consul-General in Batavia and to serve as Australia's representative on the Consular Commission. The Delegation in New York was notified on 28 August. Stuart left Batavia on 29 August for Singapore to serve as First Secretary in the Office of the Australian Commissioner for Malaya. Ballard was instructed to remain in Batavia until Eaton arrived.

[AA:A1838/283, 403/3/1/1, ix]