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Historical documents

112 Beasley to Evatt

Cablegram PC40 PARIS, 10 September 1946, 3.37 p.m.


For some time past there has been consultation between Members of
the British Commonwealth group particularly between ourselves and
South Africa with regard to Article 17 of the Italian Treaty
relating to the Colonies. [1] At first it was thought that it
might be possible to present one agreed amendment on behalf of
South Africa and Australia but over the week-end there has been a
considerable change in the views of Field Marshal Smuts and a
strengthening of the original views of the United Kingdom

2. Two things have led to this. The first is a verbal report made
by the present Military Administrator of Cyrenaica and
Tripolitania which has convinced the Field Marshal and Mr. Bevin
and Mr. Alexander that the Arab inhabitants of these countries, if
left to themselves, will almost certainly express a strong wish-
(A) for independence.

(B) for close association with and assistance from the United

3. The second factor is that a counting of heads in the Conference
here in Paris has led the two Delegations to doubt the possibility
of obtaining even a simple, let alone a 2/3rd majority in favour
of a solution satisfactory to us if the question has eventually to
be referred to the 21 states but they a-re beginning to believe
that it would be possible with the reports they expect to be able
to put forward from North Africa to obtain a satisfactory decision
in the Assembly of the United Nations should the matter be
referred there.

4. The Field Marshal has now decided to withdraw the South African
amendment [2] and I think we have to consider seriously, in the
light of these developments, policy with regard to our own
amendments. [3] There is now considerable support in the British
Commonwealth group for adopting the amendment as it stands in the
Foreign Ministers' Draft by either writing into it or more likely
attaching as an annexure the contents of the Joint Declaration [4]
of the sponsoring Governments which, as you are aware is not
included in the Article as drafted. This would make it clear
beyond any shadow of doubt that the decision is to be in
conformity with the wishes of the inhabitants and arrived at after
consultation with the States which were actively engaged in the
carrying on of the war.

5. I continue to share your dislike of possible reference of the
matter to the United Nations but in the light of the discussion
here I do feel almost as anxious about the decision the 21 might
take a year hence and I am inclined to think that we might feel
more confident about the achievement of our ultimate ends if we
worked for the immediate amendment of the present Text by writing
the safeguards into it rather than by proposing a new procedure.

We will not reach the Article before next week but I would like
your views as soon as possible or an opportunity of discussing the
matter with you on the telephone.

1 Article 17 of the draft treaty had Italy renounce title to all
its African colonies, leaving their disposition jointly to the
United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and France.

2 South Africa had proposed that, in disposing of Italian
colonies, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union
and France should consider the wishes of their inhabitants and
consult both states which had contributed to their liberation and
states which declared an interest; if 'The Four' should fail to
agree, the issue should be referred to the U.N. General Assembly.

3 Australia proposed that disposition of Italian colonies should
be placed in the hands not just of 'The Four' but of a committee
comprising 'The Four' plus three other states chosen by the peace
conference; if the committee failed to agree, the issue should be
returned to a meeting of the twenty-one states represented in

4 'The Four' declared that they would take into account the wishes
and welfare of inhabitants in disposing of Italian colonies as
well as the views of other interested states; if 'The Four' failed
to agree within a year, the issue would be referred to the U.N.

General Assembly.

[AA:A1067, E46/38/14]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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