566 Burton to Peterson

Memorandum CANBERRA, 6 November 1947


I enclose a statement of our views on agenda items for the Second Session of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. [1] Copies of the memoranda to the Australian Legation, Nanking, referred to in the statement are also enclosed.

2. The Australian Legation, Nanking, is being sent a copy of this statement, but it may not be possible for Dr. Copland to get it from that source. [2] I should be pleased, therefore, if you would pass it to him immediately on his arrival in Manila for the Session.





Item 4-Report of the Committee of the Whole

Australia has supported extension of membership to non-self- governing territories within the territorial scope of the Commission, and agreed with the solution of associate membership finally adopted by the Committee of the Whole. Other matters, for example, terms of reference do not appear to call for comment. In general there should be no need for further instructions on the Committee's report.

Item 5-New Zealand Membership

Our instructions for the first meeting were that the New Zealand Government's application for membership of the Commission should be given full support. This attitude was continued at the Committee of the Whole meeting, although it was there decided that only the full Commission had power to deal with New Zealand's application. Accordingly, when the matter is raised at the Second Session, New Zealand should be fully supported.

Item 6-Associate Members

As indicated under Item 4 above, Australia has supported admission of associate members. At the July meeting of the Committee of the Whole, the Australian suggestion was adopted that applications of associate members should be dealt with at the first sitting in November, so that they can effectively participate in the Session.

At the committee meeting there appeared to be a tacit understanding that applications for associate membership would not be opposed.

At the General Assembly meeting a Resolution was put forward by the Soviet delegate that E.C.A.F.E. should determine applications for associate membership which had been submitted to it directly by non-self-governing territories. The intention was that a territory such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos would not need to have its application sponsored by a Metropolitan power with which relations were unsatisfactory.

The Resolution was rejected in Committee by nineteen votes to thirteen with fourteen abstentions. Australia voted against the Resolution. At the Plenary Session the Resolution was rejected by 23 to 13 with 17 abstentions. India and Pakistan supported the U.S.S.R. and China and the Philippines abstained. Siam was absent and the remaining E.C.A.F.E. members opposed the Resolution.

It is believed that the U.S.S.R. will raise the matter again at the second E.C.A.F.E. Session. If it does, the Australian opposition to the proposal should be reaffirmed.

The principal argument against the proposal is a legal and constitutional one, viz that the legal and constitutional position of non-self-governing territories requires them to express their will to, and through, the Metropolitan power and that in international affairs the government of non-self-governing territories is the government of the mother country. This was the same argument as that which was put forward and which prevailed at the meeting of the Committee of the Whole of E.C.A.F.E. when it was proposed that non-self-governing territories should be admitted as full members of the Commission with voting rights.

Item 7-Functions of the Commission

Our instructions for the first meeting (Nanking memorandum No. 169 of 26th May, 1947) covered our attitude to the functions of the Commission.

Item 8-Reconstruction

Our suggestions on the draft reconstruction questionnaire (Nanking memorandum of 9th September, 1947) indicate the general lines that a survey of reconstruction problems and needs should take. While the long-term problem of raising the standards of living of Far Eastern countries should as far as possible be kept under review by the Commission, it is essential at the present time that the main emphasis should be placed on relief and reconstruction needs, so that urgent measures may be implemented expeditiously.

Item 9-Technical Training and Expert Assistance

On technical training and the use of expert assistance by Governments, it should be noted:-

(1) That UNESCO will be adopting plans aimed at giving educational and technical training to citizens of Far Eastern countries and this should be useful in raising productivity levels, and (2) That expert assistance should be provided mainly by the specialised agencies to whom the Commission might make recommendations indicating the general line which it considers the agencies should take. (Our instructions for the first meeting expand this point).

Item 10-Organisational Arrangements

Our instructions for the first meeting should cover this item adequately. It should be stressed, however:

(1) That committees and subsidiary organs generally should be restricted as far as possible and established only where the clearest need exists, and where other agencies are unable or unsuited to do the work.

(2) That field teams should be conducted by the specialised agencies and that the Economic Commission should recommend their formation rather than conduct them itself.

Item 11-Relations with Specialised Agencies

The relations of the Commission with the specialised agencies are set out in our instructions for the first meeting. It is assumed that there will be no question of a formal agreement between the Commission and the specialised agencies. Formal relationships will be broadly established through the agreement which these agencies have made with the Economic and Social Council. Working relations will presumably be decided on an informal basis at the Secretariat level. Representation of specialised agencies at Commission meetings is desirable.

Item 12-Control Authorities

(Instructions will be cabled later). [3]

Item 13-The Special Commissioner in Southeast Asia

As previously instructed, support should be given to associating the work of the Special Commissioner in Southeast Asia with the work of E.C.A.F.E. The experience of the Commissioner should be invaluable to E.C.A.F.E. particularly during the earlier stages of its work.

Item 14-Reports to the Economic and Social Council

Insistence should be placed on making the reports to the Economic and Social Council as complete as possible. The interests of the functional Commissions should be kept in mind.

Item 15-Location and Date and Place of Third Session

We have no firm comment to make on the temporary headquarters of the Commission or the date and place of the next Session. However, we understand that there are to be two meetings in 1948, and it might be desirable to hold the first meeting not before next June, so as to enable the Secretariat to perform its organisational work properly, and for investigation of reconstruction problems to be made. It will be much preferable to have a later but well-prepared meeting than to have a meeting early in 1948 which might fail through lack of preparation.

1 The Australian delegation was led by Copland, with Eric Ward as alternate and H.M. Loveday as secretary.

2 Copland left Nanking on 9 November to visit Japan, whence he travelled directly to the Philippines.

3 Instructions were dispatched on 17 November (Cablegram 133) that Control Authorities for Japan and Korea should not participate in the Commission but they could send non-Japanese observers. The Commission should be able to obtain information as needed from Control Authorities.

[AA : A1068, ER47/3/18]