149 Australian Government to Government of India

Aide-Memoire CANBERRA, 17 March 1949

At the end of January the Government of India addressed to the Government of Australia an Aide-Memoire [1] inviting the views of the Australian Government with regard to means of implementing the Third Resolution adopted by the New Delhi Conference on Indonesia.

The Government of India also submitted certain suggestions for closer co-operation, in terms of that Resolution, among governments represented at the New Delhi conference.

The Australian Government has given careful consideration to the Indian Government's Aide-Memoire, and observes that the outline of functions and purposes suggested in paragraph 1 is broadly in accord with the conception of regional association frequently advocated by the Australian Minister for External Affairs. The main purposes of a regional association of the nature proposed should be, in the view of the Australian Government, to provide a simple framework for frequent consultation among countries whose interests lie in a common approach to regional and indeed to all international questions, and at the same time to promote among such countries mutual understanding of the special problems and requirements of each one.

An important point to be borne in mind is that such regional organisation must operate within the framework of the United Nations. A principal function of the organisation might be that of conciliation and mediation, as provided for in Article 52 of the Charter, prior to submission to the Security Council of any dispute arising within the area. Furthermore, the aim of the countries concerned should be to seek a common point of view on matters under consideration by the United Nations, to review at the highest political level the activities of the specialised agencies and regional organisation of the United Nations, both political and technical, and to suggest improvements having regard to regional needs. Such agencies include the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and the Asian regional activities of the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Economic Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. No occasion need arise for encroachment upon the functions of these United Nations organs or agencies operating in the area. Representatives of the United Nations and its specialised agencies might be associated with periodical meetings. The objective at all times would be to supplement, and not to duplicate, the machinery of the United Nations.

With these general considerations in mind, the Australian Government has the following observations to make on the points raised by the Government of India in paragraph 4 of its Aide- Memoire:

(a) Australia's interest is in a Western Pacific-South East Asian Regional group extending from New Zealand to Pakistan. It is doubtful whether there is a complete community of interest, in the regional sense, between all the countries which were represented at the New Delhi Conference. It would in the Australian Government's view be preferable for the Middle Eastern countries to constitute a separate Regional group.

(b) Establishment of the necessary consultative machinery need not await the agreement of all governments of the region, but could be proceeded with provided a majority of governments had indicated willingness to participate.

(c) The instrument of agreement between the countries concerned should be brief and should set forth in general terms the purposes of the association and reaffirm the adherence of the member nations to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Provision might be made for periodical or ad hoc conferences to discuss major political issues and to assist in instilling in member countries the habit of prior consultation on important political or technical questions as they arise in the United Nations and its specialised agencies.

(d) The secretarial duties of the organisation would include the preparation of provisional agenda for conferences, the circulation of conference proceedings, liaison with the United Nations and its agencies, and most important, continuous day-by-day consultation between member governments on all relevant matters. These duties should be carried out, not by a separate secretariat, but through the appointment in each Foreign Office of an officer whose whole duty it would be to maintain contact with officers similarly appointed in the other Foreign Offices. These officers would be required to meet together from time to time prior to conferences or on other occasions as might appear necessary, thus establishing a close and personal link between the administrations of each government, and ensuring continuous consultation between governments on matters of common interest.

One further point arises on the question of membership of the organization. It is the view of the Australian Government that all the peoples of the Western Pacific South East Asia area should be represented. At the same time it is appreciated that substantial difficulties would arise if some or all of the 'Great Powers' were included. It is suggested that only independent governments in the area be included as full members, but that after discussion with these representatives, provision should be made for the same day- by-day consultation and liaison with local administrations as is conducted by the Foreign Offices of the independent governments of the area.

1 Document 142.
[AA:A1838/278, 383/1/2/1, iv]