155 Note for Use in Cabinet

CANBERRA, 26 January 1949



1. Following the Dutch attack on the Republic of Indonesia in December, which was made in clear defiance of the jurisdiction of the United Nations Security Council, Australia has taken an active part in the formulation of measures to put a stop to the fighting and bring about a peaceful settlement in Indonesia, acting all the time in accordance with United Nations procedures.

2. At the Conference which has just taken place at New Delhi Australia was represented by an official delegation whose principal instruction was that it should do everything to ensure that the Conference did not take any action contrary to the purposes or the procedures of the United Nations Charter. The delegation was free to play a full part in influencing the course of discussion, but was not in a position to commit the Government to any Resolution. The delegation's endorsement of the final conclusions of the Conference was ad referendum.

3. On first arriving in New Delhi the Australian delegation found that it was received with some reserve by India and other delegations. It was immediately obvious that the reason for this was to be found largely in the opposition previously voiced in Australia, in the press and elsewhere, to Australia's attendance at the Conference. However, as soon as the delegation made it clear that it was there to take a full part in the proceedings and that Indonesia was the only subject for discussion, initial suspicion broke down and Australia was looked to to give a lead.

The delegation worked in close contact with India, and it is significant that the four Dominions of Australia, India, Pakistan, and Ceylon were chosen to draft the final Resolutions. [1] There is no doubt that Australian representation at the Conference was in every way desirable and that our delegation played a leading part in keeping the proceedings strictly in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

4. The main Resolution agreed to by the Conference takes the form of a recommendation to the Security Council that- (a) the Indonesian Republic be restored quickly to the position it occupied before the Dutch attack, and that Dutch forces be gradually withdrawn;

(b) all restrictions on Republican overseas trade and communications be removed;

(c) an Interim Government of Indonesia, exercising full domestic authority, be set up by March 15;

(d) elections be held by October 1949 and full sovereignty transferred to the United States of Indonesia by January 1, 1950;

(e) the Security Council to report to the General Assembly on action taken to solve the Indonesian question.

5. The Security Council in New York is at present considering a Resolution [2] submitted by the United States. This Resolution covers most of the points recommended by the New Delhi Conference.

It differs mainly in emphasis, and it is possible that it may be strengthened in the course of debate in the next few days.

Notwithstanding its shortcomings, it marks a considerable step forward. Among other things- (a) it greatly increases the powers of the Good Offices Committee to recommend terms of settlement and supervise its carrying out;

(Australia is bound to remain a member of this Committee.) (b) it lays down a time-table for the establishment of a sovereign United States of Indonesia by the first half of 1950;

(c) it looks toward a settlement in Indonesia on the basis of the Linggadjati [3] and Renville Agreements [4], and the Cochran proposals [5], under which the future sovereign United States of Indonesia would remain joined with the Netherlands under the Dutch Crown in a Netherlands-Indonesian Union, and under which Dutch commercial interests in Indonesia would continue to exist with full protection.

6. The United Kingdom, among other countries, has indicated that it will support the United States resolution, which appears likely to be adopted in substantially its present form.

1 Document 144.

2 Document 124.

3 Appendix I in Volume XI.

4 Document 22, 23 and 24 in Volume XIII.

5 See Document 237 and 238 in Volume XIII.

[AA : A1838, 403/3/1/1, xxi]