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Historical documents

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

Cablegram UN637, NEW YORK, 15 July 1948, 11.28 p.m.


Trusteeship Council 15th July.

Reference our immediately preceding telegram, following were main points raised during continued examination of political aspects of New Guinea Report.

2. Sayre (U.S.A.) asked whether Bill involved political as well as administrative union in view of single Legislative Council, single judicial system and single Administrator also common Taxation and Customs. Doubted whether anything more needed to constitute political union. While not opposed to union advantageous to inhabitants, felt Council must preserve intentions of Charter with which virtual annexation was incompatible. Seemed doubtful whether Council should pronounce definite conclusion or whether views of members should be sent and Council substantially review.

3. Iraq charged Australian representatives evading question of nature of union (whether political or only administrative) and queried whether Australia had right to proceed or whether Council should exert supervisory responsibility now. Left no doubt he felt Council should pronounce against plan.

4. China stated emphatically Council should form opinion for submission to General Assembly. Opinion of Administering Authority on interest of inhabitants and consistency with objectives not sole criterion. Any form of political association which may lead to prejudicing objective of independence inconsistent with Charter. If annexation 'in any sense' appeared to be possible outcome it should be rejected.

5. Mexico conceded text of Article 5 would support view Australia could act on basis of its opinion but especially having regard to history of this Article Trusteeship Council need not accept this opinion. His doubts not removed. Asked whether Australia would be willing for Council to seek advisory opinion of International Court which might be useful for future. Sought explanation how Administering Authority could in practice keep alive separate identity in minds of inhabitants by everyday acts and foster capacity to express wishes as regards final fate of territory.

6. Philippines and Soviet so far have not stated definite view but confined themselves at this stage to factual questions on the Bill.

7. Belgium and France stressed benefits to inhabitants, the former especially the advantages of extending the benefits of Trusteeship standards to Papuan people. Belgium very definitely opposed to expression of Council view and clearly would favour merely taking note at this stage.

8. Burns (U.K.) again cited long standing Nigeria-Cameroons precedent and pointed out close similarity in relevant Articles on Cameroons and New Guinea Agreements.

9. Halligan and Forsyth between them answered specific points raised with specific references to relevant sections of the Bill and repeatedly pointed out plan was for practical machinery for common Administration while separate identity of territories is explicitly preserved and thus political union is not envisaged. Opposition, however, not convinced.

10. New Zealand pointed out neither Charter nor Agreement mentions political union and stressed qualifications contained in the Declaration of Non-Annexation (paragraph 6 of Rapporteurs report Fourth Committee 1946). Proper course would be to ask Australian Government whether effect of Bill would be annexation or extinction of status to trust territory.

11. Garreau (France) who in Council stoutly defends our position asked privately whether it would not be possible to modify the Bill.

12. Burns (United Kingdom) privately said he would, if we wish, make suggestion of additional clause to effect t[hat] nothing in the Bill should be construed to constitute a political union. Ryckmans [Belgium] thought this might help later if tendency towards concrete adverse recommendation developed.

[AA : A1838/2, 306/2/1, I]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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