362 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations, and Embassy in Washington

Cablegrams UNP117, 989 CANBERRA, 10 December 1948, 8.45 a.m.


Admission of Indonesian Republic to E.C.A.F.E.

You will no doubt have seen that E.C.A.F.E on 8th December adopted by a vote of 8 (Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, U.S.S.R., China, Burma and Philippines) to 2 (Netherlands, U.S.A.), with 3 abstentions (United Kingdom, France, Siam), the following resolution:

Begins- The Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East Taking note of the applications for associate membership submitted (a) by the Netherlands on behalf of Indonesia (Netherlands East Indies) and (b) by the Republic of Indonesia on its own behalf.

Noting further that negotiations have been proceeding for a general settlement in Indonesia.

Noting further that the Indonesian question is on the agenda of the Security Council.

Recognizing that although E.C.A.F.E. is not competent to determine the juridical issues involved in the present situation in Indonesia, it has authority to deal with applications for associate membership from territories within its geographical scope.

Noting that the continued absence from the Commission of associate members from Indonesia adversely affects the work of the Commission.

Resolves that, without prejudice to the political settlement in Indonesia and without expressing an opinion on any aspects of the Indonesian question under consideration in the Security Council or elsewhere, the Republic of Indonesia and the rest of Indonesia (N.E.I.) be admitted as associate members of E.C.A.F.E.


Following the vote the Netherlands Delegation declined to take any further part in the Commission's proceedings and withdrew.

When matter was first considered at beginning of current session we endeavoured to find formula giving Republic some consultative status for this session but this was impracticable under terms of reference. We then introduced a resolution recommending that consideration of both pending applications for associate membership (by Netherlands for the whole of Indonesia, and by Republic on behalf of its own territory) be deferred until next session in order not to prejudice negotiations for a settlement which were then proceeding in Java. Other delegations felt, however, that the Republic should be given opportunity to indicate whether it wished its application to be considered before this session ended. Consideration was accordingly postponed until 8th December. Before that date arrived the discussions proceeding in Java were broken off, and the Republic notified Indian Government and ourselves that it would like its application to be discussed.

Every effort was made, by consultation among delegations, to agree on a resolution which would admit the Republic (and also the rest of Indonesia) by unanimous consent. It became obvious, however, that the Netherlands Delegation had rigid instructions and would not yield to persuasion. Foregoing resolution was accordingly submitted on the motion of New Zealand delegate.

Australian representative in his supporting statement recalled that Australia had tried to have the matter postponed but pointed out that in the circumstances which had arisen, further postponement would amount to rejection of Republic's application.

He emphasised that E.C.A.F.E. was not concerned with rights and wrongs of the Netherlands-Republican dispute, but was determined to make its work fully effective, which could only be the case if all territories and peoples in the E.C.A.F.E. area were represented. Responsibility for reaching a decision had been placed on E.C.A.F.E. by Economic and Social Council. In admitting Indonesia in two parts, E.C.A.F.E. was recognising a practical situation without prejudice to any future political settlement which could make double admission unnecessary and subject to automatic correction.

Referring to statement by Netherlands that decision would result in part of Indonesia becoming unrepresented in E.C.A.F.E.

Australian representative said that such a result could not be regarded as a consequence of the action of E.C.A.F.E. itself.

Washington repeat to New York.

[AA:A1838, 403/2/3/8]