Skip to main content

Historical documents

144 Tange to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 10 February 1949


1. I am puzzled by the Indian aide-memoire [1] which purports to
extend into
detail the terms of Resolution 3 of the New Delhi Conference; and
alarmed by the proposed Australian reply. [2]

2. It can be assumed that, for political reasons, there should be
an arrangement of some kind for formalized consultation on all
types of issues ranging from political to technical. Australia's
task is to make this arrangement effective politically and
function efficiently at the technical level. Resolution 3 of the
New Delhi Conference speaks of 'machinery ... of promoting
consultation within the framework of the United Nations'.

3. It is not clear either in the aide-memoire or in the Australian
reply whether it is intended that the particular subjects
mentioned should be handled within a United Nations organization,
or within a body analogous to the South Pacific Commission. A body
of the latter type does not seem to me to be strictly 'within the
framework of the United Nations'.

4. But ignoring this question of interpretation of the resolution,
[it seems to me that the proposed Australian reply involves
duplication with:] [3]

(a) E.C.A.F.E. [4] with its elaborate secretariat;

(b) I.L.O. [5], with a regular large-scale Asian Conference,
expanding Asian regional office, regular meetings in Asia to
discuss questions of labour inspection, the Asian manpower
problems, and similar regional technical conferences;

(c) F.A.O. [6] Asian machinery such as the Indo-Pacific Fisheries
Council, its forestry and other technical regional committees;

(d) the epidemiological service of W.H.O. [7] which is constructed
on a regional basis, and the intended formation of Asian regional
organizations within the W.H.O. which is in some sense designed as
a federation of regional bodies;

(e) U.N.E.S.C.O. [8], which is beginning to organize regionally
through regional seminars, although it can perhaps not be said
that its activity in Asia is as effective as that of other

(f) I.C.A.0. [9], which presumably has some regional arrangements
although, at the moment of writing, I have not been able to
confirm this.

5. It seems to me that the duplication would be appalling. If it
should be argued that there is an analogy with the Brussels Pact
which provides for cultural and economic co-operation among its
parties, I would suggest that the case for new regional machinery
in Europe in these particular fields is rather doubtful but its
justification lies primarily in the inability of United Nations
machinery to satisfy requirements because of the pervading
political dispute between East and West. In Asia this dispute
should not (and in fact does not) apply to the same extent and has
not hitherto prevented a steadily growing emphasis on Asian
activities in all the organizations that I have mentioned.

6. My conclusion is that we should approach this problem in terms
(a) regular consultations with the Asian countries;

(b) that the instrument providing for these consultations reaffirm
the common interests of the members in the Asian activities of the
United Nations and all the specialized agencies [political as well
as technical];

(c) that the consultations should be designed to take a general
perspective of the success or otherwise of these activities in all
the various agencies so that a common Asian approach can be worked
out regularly, and then applied by the countries individually
through their membership of these organizations. (This system of
consultation should not require any elaborate secretariat.)
(d) a more specific activity might be undertaken under this
arrangement in the field of promotion of public understanding of
each other's problems, a field which it can hardly be said is
adequately covered by U.N.E.S.C.O. at the present time.

7. The foregoing comments on the Asian arrangements seem to me to
apply equally well to the proposal that there should be a separate
organization for the Middle East. The Middle East, like Asia, is
being increasingly served by the United Nations and specialized
agency machinery.

[8. The conception I have is of an understanding which creates
little formal
machinery: but which provides a mechanism (analogous to British
Commonwealth consultations) for periodical and ad hoc
consultations on major political issues and engender the habit of
prior consultations on technical issues as they arise in specific
agencies. Such an arrangement would permit further New Delhi
Conferences without the excitement and misgivings which the press
in Australia worked up over the recent one, and would avoid
unnecessary machinery.]

1 Document 142
2 Presumably a draft reply. See Document 149 for the Australian
Government's reply.

3 Matter in square brackets was added in Tange's handwriting.

4 Economic Commision for Asia and the Far East.

5 International Labour Orgaization.

6 Food and Agriculture Organization.

7 World Health Organization.

8 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural

9 International Civil Aviation Organization.

[AA:A1838/278, 383/1/2/1, iv]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top