60 Hodgson to Burton

Cablegram UN687 NEW YORK, 23 July 1947, 8.25 p.m.


1. Your 378. [1] We shall do this but I would be failing in frankness if I do not point out that in my view our election to the Economic and Social Council at this time might not be in the best interests of Australia from the point of view of long term prospects for representation in the United Nations. I also am most doubtful whether we would be successful.

2. The system of merit, on the basis of which you now suggest we should seek election to the Economic and Social Council, though correct in theory does not, as you are aware, work out in practice in the present state of international politics. Elections are in fact dominated by regional and ideological groupings. Our claims have in the past been advanced primarily by support from the British Commonwealth and the fact that we represent a distinct geographical area.

3. For these reasons we have consistently endeavoured to establish the conception that along with New Zealand we are representatives of the South Pacific. If such a notion is generally accepted it will, by close co-operation with New Zealand, enable continuous policy to be advanced and (combined with Commonwealth support) should ensure reasonably rapid rotation on the Economic and Social Council, and on the Security Council which is even more important.

4. We could only seek election to the Economic and Social Council this year by over-riding both the British Commonwealth basis and the geographical basis, since Canada and New Zealand would still be on the Council. It would be difficult for us to seek to succeed India which is generally considered as Asian rather than as a British Commonwealth country, and may stand for re-election if not elected to the Security Council.

5. In short we would be standing on the basis of merit alone and even although the Charter specifically provides for geographical representation on the Security Council it might tend to weaken geographical factor there. On a basis of merit alone it might be eight to ten years before we are again elected to either Council.

As a Commonwealth country we would have a much better case for the Economic and Social Council next year.

6. The question is most important and maybe my thinking is wrong, but I would like your personal views, including your estimate as to how we can best use both Council elections to assist the Minister's prospects for President. [2]

1 Dispatched 16 July. It asked the delegation to campaign for Australia's election to the Council and to make it clear that New Zealand's membership should not prejudice Australia's claim.

2 Burton replied acknowledging Hodgson as 'best judge of general situation' and suggesting that he concentrate only on the Presidency.

[AA : A1838, 852/10/9, i]