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86 Australian Government to Fraser

Cablegram 225 CANBERRA, 26 August 1946


Trusteeship Agreements for New Guinea and Western Samoa.

1. We are anxious to ensure mutual full support at the next
General Assembly when the trusteeship agreements are submitted for

2. It appears desirable to us to attempt to remove without delay
any point of substantial difference between us. You will have
noticed that phrase 'on behalf of the United Nations' does not
appear in Article 2 of our draft designating Australia as the
administering authority for New Guinea. The omission of the phrase
has been actuated by the following considerations-
(a) the view that Articles 75 and 87 of Charter contemplate
division of supervisory and administrative powers, the former
power reposing in the Trusteeship Council, the latter in the
Administering State. Article 87 specifies four functions of the
General Assembly and Trusteeship Council which from their
character impliedly support the view that in normal cases
administration is a national task and supervision an international

(b) this view emphasises deliberately the 'trusteeship' character
of the new system of international supervision as distinct from
the 'agency' concept of the Mandates system. That is, it relies on
the notion that a trustee is an owner but is accountable to others
for the exercise of the rights of ownership. An agent on other
hand is, of course, not an owner but is subject to directions of a
principal in carrying out functions which belong to that
principal. Thus we feel the administering authority is rightly
subject to precise and searching supervision by the Trusteeship
Council and ultimately the United Nations Assembly but is not
subject to direct interference in the course of its
administration. The Trusteeship Council reviews action taken by
administering authority but does not engage in prior direction.

(c) inclusion of the phrase 'on behalf of the United Nations'
suggests strongly an agency concept and opens the way to possible
interference in administration by the Powers represented on the
Trusteeship Council. It may well bring with it dangers and
weaknesses of 'international administration'. It should be
remembered in this connection that members of Trusteeship Council
need not necessarily be experts in colonial administration as were
the members of the Permanent Mandates Commission. Charter
provision (Article 86(2)) is dangerously vague on this point.

(d) The Mandate system was, of course, based on judicial facts of
1918 when title to ex-enemy colonies was vested in Allied and
Associated Powers. The Mandatory powers have acted as agents not
trustees. To apply the same concept to the International
Trusteeship system may prove embarrassing to States who decide to
bring territories falling within Article 77(c) category [1] under
that system. If the concept of administration on behalf of UNO
were accepted it may indeed tend to discourage States in the
future from bringing territories at present their colonial
possession under the trusteeship system involving as it would an
acknowledgment that powers of administration in such territories
were derived from the United Nations Organization. (e) We fully
support principle of accountability of trustee powers to the
Trusteeship Council for the carrying out of obligations
specifically provided for in the Charter, but feel that the phrase
'on behalf of the United Nations' adds nothing to that concept but
does seem to us to introduce the dangers we have mentioned. 3. We
are anxious to raise this matter with the United Kingdom also in
near future and note that inclusion of the phrase is still
receiving consideration along with other points discussed with
United States representatives (see D.770). [2] Before raising the
question we should appreciate early expression of your views. [3]

1 i.e. 'territories voluntarily placed under the system by states
responsible for their administration'.

2 Dispatched from London on 15 August, it was concerned mainly
with interpretation of the phrase 'States directly concerned'.

3 No reply has been found.

[AA:A1838/238, 306/1/1, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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