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

Cablegram UN831 NEW YORK, 28 November 1946, 1.23 a.m.


Assembly 273.


Sub-Committee Two. South West Africa.

1. On 27th the South African representative made a further
statement giving background of the case for incorporation of the
territory in the Union. Major Hahn [1] (territory administration)
gave an informative but unimpressively presented sketch of
territory and briefly described his procedure in consultations.

Did not convince any critics.

2. Sub-Committee proceeds afternoon 28th to consideration of three
resolutions from India, Soviet Union and United States of which
text has been sent in Assembly 249, 266 [2] and 267. [3]

3. The view of all mandatories is that the Soviet preamble is
strongly objectionable in its view that Charter requires mandates
either to be brought under trusteeship or to be given immediate
self-government or independence. Offensiveness of reference to
consultations with natives in territory is also embarrassing.

4. The United States proposal amounts to little more than leaving
the issue open with a friendly reference to South Africa's action
in bringing the question to the General Assembly. Netherlands,
Denmark and Norway feel there is much force in Soviet criticism
that United States resolution does not do justice to strong
sentiment expressed in full committee in favour of trusteeship.

They are, therefore, proposing to move an additional clause
inviting South Africa to reconsider its decision regarding

5. Committee consists of nineteen members. Previous votes show
that division of opinion is close. Mandatories together with
United States and western Europeans can muster ten votes to nine.

6. Our present instructions are to abstain from voting. [4] If we
and New Zealand abstain on both Soviet and United States
resolutions, Soviet resolution will certainly be passed.

7. Understanding your over-riding instruction to be not to
embarrass South Africa we propose unless otherwise instructed to
support the United States resolution and to accept the Danish
amendment to it if necessary to ensure majority. Insistence of
Soviet resolution that trusteeship is imperative for mandated
territories seems to us so contrary to Australian interests and to
true view of Charter that we would like discretion to oppose it if
it comes to vote.

8. Please advise urgently.

1 Major C. H. L. Hahn, South African member of the U.N. General
Assembly Fourth Committee (Trusteeship).

2 Cablegrams 249 and 266 of 26 and 27 November respectively had
reported that India and the Soviet Union bad tabled draft
resolutions calling on South Africa to submit a draft trusteeship
agreement for South West Africa.

3 Dispatched 27 November, Cablegram 267 had reported the content
of a U.S. draft resolution which, while praising South Africa for
referring the issue to the United Nations, opposed incorporation
of South West Africa in South Africa.

4 The Australian delegation had been instructed on 20 November not
to speak in the debate and to abstain if a vote were taken.

[AA:A1067, P46/153/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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