563 Makin to Vandenberg

Letter WASHINGTON, 30 December 1947

I have received the following message from the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H.V. Evatt, which he has asked me to convey to you. [1]

'I should be most grateful if, in your capacity of Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you could assist in achieving the early ratification by Congress of the South Pacific Commission Agreement, which was signed in February last at Canberra by your Ambassador on behalf of the United States.

The Commission is purely an advisory body with the function of advising member governments, (viz. the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and The Netherlands), in relation to the advancement of native peoples in the South Pacific.

The Australian Government is most anxious that the South Pacific Commission should become organised and begin its work with the least possible delay. A preliminary meeting at Sydney in November, of representatives of six governments signatory to the agreement, was able to accomplish useful exploratory work in connection with the organisation and functions of the commission, but finds itself prevented from putting forward firm recommendations by the fact that the United States Government has not yet completed ratification of the agreement. Unless all ratifications are lodged, it may be impossible to envoke first meeting of commission early in 1948 as provided under the agreement.

I understand that both Houses of Congress, in fact, approved the agreement just before the close of the first session in July but that the Senate adopted two minor amendments and that insufficient time remained for the two Houses to agree upon a single version.

It has occurred to me that you might be able to exercise your considerable influence to ensure that resolution authorising United States membership on commission, which apparently commands support in principle of both Houses, is given priority.

Kind personal regards.'

If you would care to let me have a reply for Dr. Evatt I should be happy to transmit it to him. [2]

1 Evatt also instructed Makin to discuss the matter with Senator Tom Connally, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Charles A. Eaton and Sol Bloom, Chairman and ranking Democratic member respectively of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

2 Vandenberg replied on 31 December that he expected speedy ratification following reassembly of the House in January. He promised to urge prompt action, and suggested approaching Eaton.

In reposing this reply to Evatt, Makin added that he had raised the issue with Eaton and found him no less receptive. The agreement was ratified by the United States Government on as January. Ratification by the French Government followed on 20 May, and the agreement came into force following ratification by the Netherlands Government on 29 July 1948.

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