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124 Department of External Affairs to Collings [1]

Cablegram 338 CANBERRA, 18 September 1946

Your 324. ILO Governing Body. Racial discrimination in respect of

1. Minister does not consider it appropriate for Governing Body to
refer matters to United Nations. We would prefer that no
resolution on this subject should be adopted, but if matter is
referred anywhere it should be to International Labour Conference.

2. For your background information, our Departmental view is that
immigration is a matter in which each State should be free to work
out its own policy, and we cannot agree that the term 'human
rights' as used in the United Nations Charter includes any right
of unrestricted migration. To admit any such right would mean that
the generally admitted authority of each State to decide what
foreign persons to admit into its territory would to a large
extent be lost, and it is not considered that any State would be
prepared to relinquish this method of control of its population.

Immigration should, it is considered, be regarded as a privilege
which is extended to the nationals of another State to enter and
take up residence. In none of the suggested international bills of
rights or suggested international declarations or conventions on
human rights and freedoms is unrestricted migration put forward as
a human right or fundamental freedom.

Again, immigration is a question of domestic concern only, within
the meaning of Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter.

3. Matter requires delicate handling, as we do not wish to take
any step which would start or increase public discussion of this
issue. You should however take any practicable diplomatic steps to
have matter dropped or postponed, and seek aid at least of United
Kingdom and Canadian representatives to this end. [2]

1 Senator J. A. Collings was to lead the Australian delegation to
the 29th Session of the Conference of the international Labour
Organization, which was to commence in Montreal on 19 September.

2 The conference did not discuss the immigration question, which
was placed on the agenda of the 100th Session of the I.L.O.'s
Governing Body commencing 7 October. Wynes, who represented
Australia at this session, reported subsequently that 'full
advantage was taken of the circumstances existing from time to
time during the course of both the 99th and 100th Sessions to
prevent any discussion arising'.

[AA:A1067, ER46/5/20]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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