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149 Australian Government to Government of India

Aide-Memoire CANBERRA, 17 March 1949

At the end of January the Government of India addressed to the
Government of Australia an Aide-Memoire [1] inviting the views of
the Australian Government with regard to means of implementing the
Third Resolution adopted by the New Delhi Conference on Indonesia.

The Government of India also submitted certain suggestions for
closer co-operation, in terms of that Resolution, among
governments represented at the New Delhi conference.

The Australian Government has given careful consideration to the
Indian Government's Aide-Memoire, and observes that the outline of
functions and purposes suggested in paragraph 1 is broadly in
accord with the conception of regional association frequently
advocated by the Australian Minister for External Affairs. The
main purposes of a regional association of the nature proposed
should be, in the view of the Australian Government, to provide a
simple framework for frequent consultation among countries whose
interests lie in a common approach to regional and indeed to all
international questions, and at the same time to promote among
such countries mutual understanding of the special problems and
requirements of each one.

An important point to be borne in mind is that such regional
organisation must operate within the framework of the United
Nations. A principal function of the organisation might be that of
conciliation and mediation, as provided for in Article 52 of the
Charter, prior to submission to the Security Council of any
dispute arising within the area. Furthermore, the aim of the
countries concerned should be to seek a common point of view on
matters under consideration by the United Nations, to review at
the highest political level the activities of the specialised
agencies and regional organisation of the United Nations, both
political and technical, and to suggest improvements having regard
to regional needs. Such agencies include the Economic Commission
for Asia and the Far East and the Asian regional activities of the
International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization,
the United Nations Economic Scientific and Cultural Organization
and the International Civil Aviation Organization. No occasion
need arise for encroachment upon the functions of these United
Nations organs or agencies operating in the area. Representatives
of the United Nations and its specialised agencies might be
associated with periodical meetings. The objective at all times
would be to supplement, and not to duplicate, the machinery of the
United Nations.

With these general considerations in mind, the Australian
Government has the following observations to make on the points
raised by the Government of India in paragraph 4 of its Aide-

(a) Australia's interest is in a Western Pacific-South East Asian
Regional group extending from New Zealand to Pakistan. It is
doubtful whether there is a complete community of interest, in the
regional sense, between all the countries which were represented
at the New Delhi Conference. It would in the Australian
Government's view be preferable for the Middle Eastern countries
to constitute a separate Regional group.

(b) Establishment of the necessary consultative machinery need not
await the agreement of all governments of the region, but could be
proceeded with provided a majority of governments had indicated
willingness to participate.

(c) The instrument of agreement between the countries concerned
should be brief and should set forth in general terms the purposes
of the association and reaffirm the adherence of the member
nations to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Provision
might be made for periodical or ad hoc conferences to discuss
major political issues and to assist in instilling in member
countries the habit of prior consultation on important political
or technical questions as they arise in the United Nations and its
specialised agencies.

(d) The secretarial duties of the organisation would include the
preparation of provisional agenda for conferences, the circulation
of conference proceedings, liaison with the United Nations and its
agencies, and most important, continuous day-by-day consultation
between member governments on all relevant matters. These duties
should be carried out, not by a separate secretariat, but through
the appointment in each Foreign Office of an officer whose whole
duty it would be to maintain contact with officers similarly
appointed in the other Foreign Offices. These officers would be
required to meet together from time to time prior to conferences
or on other occasions as might appear necessary, thus establishing
a close and personal link between the administrations of each
government, and ensuring continuous consultation between
governments on matters of common interest.

One further point arises on the question of membership of the
organization. It is the view of the Australian Government that all
the peoples of the Western Pacific South East Asia area should be
represented. At the same time it is appreciated that substantial
difficulties would arise if some or all of the 'Great Powers' were
included. It is suggested that only independent governments in the
area be included as full members, but that after discussion with
these representatives, provision should be made for the same day-
by-day consultation and liaison with local administrations as is
conducted by the Foreign Offices of the independent governments of
the area.

1 Document 142.

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