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195 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN616 NEW YORK, 2 November 1946, 10.32 p.m.


Assembly 85.

Trusteeship South West Africa.

1. The South African Government recently amended wording of South
West African Item on Agenda. It now stands as follows. 'Statement
by the Union of South Africa on the outcome of their consultations
with the peoples of South West Africa as to the future status of
the mandated territory and implementation to be given to the
wishes thus expressed.' [1] [As] stated the item squarely raises
question whether Assembly can accept information contained in the
South African memorandum [2] as genuine evidence of self-
determination by peoples of the Territory.

2. This item was referred to the Fourth Committee, where the South
African Representative said yesterday that Smuts would make a
statement at the commencement of general discussion on Monday.

3. As instructed we have been feeling our way and have made no
commitment and indicated no course of action.

4. From the United Kingdom Delegation we have a copy of the reply
given by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 23rd
October regarding steps taken to ascertain the views of native
African peoples of South West Africa on proposed incorporation in
the Union. The Prime Minister after explaining the steps as set
forth in the South African memorandum added: 'I take this
opportunity to say that His Majesty's Government in the United
Kingdom are satisfied as to the steps taken by the South African
Government to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants. it may be
of interest to Honourable Members that the South African
Authorities took advantage of the presence in South Africa of Lord
Hailey [3] whose great authority on these matters is well known,
to ascertain his views on the procedure adopted. He has informed
them that he is in no doubt that complete fairness characterised
their explanation of the issue upon which the natives were
requested to express their opinion, that the opinion of the
natives was freely and voluntarily expressed and that the
consultations conformed to the normal tribal practice.'
5. The Soviet Group have already indicated strong hostility to
incorporation of South West Africa in the Union. Manuilsky said in
Plenary Meeting that it was an extraordinary proposal in direct
contradiction of the Charter which binds the United Nations to
promote development of non-self-governing territories in direction
of self-government or independence. This statement and their
declared support of the Indian case against South Africa are of a
piece with general bid of the Soviet Union for support of colonial
and coloured world. It is also consistent with the Soviet view
that Article 80 of the Charter binds Mandatory powers to bring
their territories under trusteeship without delay. But it confuses
Chapters 11 and 12 of the Charter. The South African case will in
part rest on Article 73B. [4]

6. We understand that the South African Government is still
opposed to bringing South West Africa under the Trusteeship System
on the ground that Chapter XII may be held not to contemplate the
possibility of subsequent incorporation in trustee state even if
the inhabitants desire it. If this Assembly declines to concur in
incorporation, the South African intention is (as stated at Geneva
in April) to continue to administer territory in accordance with
Mandate until other arrangements have been agreed with the United

7. We learn privately that the United States Delegation discussed
with the South African the possibility of appointing a United
Nations Commission to report on the wishes of inhabitants but are
not minded to press this in view of possibilities of trouble-
making among natives and possible awkwardness of precedent.

1 A sign here indicates 'word mutilated'.

2 A memorandum stating the South African case for incorporation
and outlining the steps taken for consultation with 'non-
Europeans' had been presented to the Secretary-General on 17

3 Lord Hailey, Chairman of the U.K. Colonial Research Committee;

in 1935-39 a member of the League of Nations' Permanent Mandates

4 Article 73B, while referring to self-government as an aim for
dependent territories, also referred to the particular
circumstances of territories and the stages of advancement reached
by their inhabitants.

[AA:A1067, M46/21/14]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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