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Historical documents

97 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 14 [1] CANBERRA, 11 January 1943


Your telegram[s] No. 4 and D.14. [2] Colonies.

1. We have noted the terms of revised draft text in your D.14.

Although text is in form of a draft declaration we assume that it
is not intended that Halifax should present it to Hull as such,
but rather that it should serve as general guidance to Halifax in
his conversations. 2. In these circumstances we have no comment to
make on the draft at the moment beyond the following, which sums
up our views:

(a) Draft as it stands might be held to amount to requiring an
absolute return to the status quo as regards sovereignty and
administrative control and might thus be regarded by other
colonial powers as guarantee against any change whatsoever.

Clearly in South-East Asia area changes might be found to be
desirable. For this reason Commonwealth Government would like to
make it clear that the draft could not be regarded as definitive
in respect of South-East Asia region.

(b) We maintain that some provision for the accountability of all
trustee States to some international body is both practicable and
essential if trusteeship is to be a reality. Our feeling is that
general declaration to the world of mere acceptance of the
principle of trusteeship will not be regarded as sufficient to
establish responsibility. We think it of the first importance to
devise principle of accountability in regard to obligations and at
the least, in default of some general international body, we
desire to see this included as one of the functions of the
proposed regional commissions. Views of Canadian Government [3]
impliedly support us in this conviction, and carried to a logical
conclusion it is implicit in your own draft declaration.

1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington as no. 5 and to the
Canadian, N.Z. and South African Prime Ministers as no 2, 8 and 9

2 Documents 95-6.

3 Conveyed to the Commonwealth Govt in Bruce's cablegram 3[A] of 7
January (on file AA:A989, 43/735/1021).

[AA:A989, 43/735/1021]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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