Evatt to Eggleston, Officer, Maloney, Bruce 12

Cablegrams 85, 13, 9, 11 CANBERRA, 17 January 1945


To-day the Canadian High Commissioner [1] left with me for my personal information copy of memorandum [2] on Dumbarton Oaks proposals which is being handed formally by Canadian Government to United Kingdom, United States, Soviet, Chinese and French Governments. The memorandum suggests that proposals regarding membership of or election to Security Council should be revised by the Great Powers before the document is formally submitted as basis for an international conference.

2. The memorandum contrasts the position of the Great Powers, which are assured of full participation in deliberations of Security Council, with position of country like Canada, which could be called upon to make a substantial contribution to world security and commit itself to take drastic action in carrying out the Security Council’s decisions but which has no better assurance of election to Council than the smallest and weakest State. The memorandum continues:-

‘It is open to question whether a country such as Canada could undertake to accept such an obligation or could, if the obligation were initially accepted, ensure effective collaboration in the indefinite future. Canada certainly makes no claim to be regarded as a great power. The Canadian record in two great wars, however, has revealed both readiness to join in concerted action against aggression and possession of substantial military and industrial capacity. There are a number of other states the potential contribution of which to the maintenance of future security is of the same order of magnitude. The support of these states is important to the maintenance of peace, and the active collaboration of some at least of them would probably be required for the execution of the majority of the decisions of the Security Council under Chapter VIIIB of the proposals.

The question therefore, arises whether it is possible, within the framework of the general scheme, to devise the means of associating more effectively with the work of the Security Council states of the order of international importance of Canada. This might be achieved by making some changes in the power conferred on the Council, and by ensuring that such states were chosen to fill elected seats on the Council more frequently (or possibly for longer periods) than states with less to contribute to the maintenance of security.

It is suggested that the decisions of the Security Council under Chapter VIIIB should be made binding in the first instance only on the states which are members of the Council. States not represented on the Council should be required to take positive action only when the decision has been endorsed by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly (when it would become binding on all members), or when the country or countries concerned have by special invitation participated on the same footing as the elected members in the Council’s proceedings, or when they have individually agreed with the Council to join in a particular task of enforcement. The adoption of these suggestions would make it far easier for states other than the Great Powers to enter into agreements making available to the organisation substantial military forces, facilities and assistance, and would thus increase the effective power at the disposal of the Council. Their adoption would also help to secure the requisite public support in countries not permanently represented on the Council.

By the acceptance of these suggestions a special responsibility would be placed upon all members of the Security Council which would not be imposed on other members of the organisation. Thus the changes proposed in the authority of the Council must be considered in conjunction with the suggestion for increasing the effectiveness of the elected section, since they would increase the need for ensuring that the elected section of the Council was made up of states capable of contributing to the discharge of the Council’s obligations. A serious effort should therefore be made to devise a system of election which would provide that due regard must be paid to the international significance of the countries chosen. If Chapter VIA of proposals was to be submitted in its present form to a general conference of the United Nations, there would be small chance of securing its amplification in this respect, and it is, therefore, urged that the question should be faced without delay in devising methods of achieving this end. It will generally be agreed that it is important to discourage election to the Council being sought for reasons of prestige, and also to avoid the development of electoral understandings, such as those which controlled election to the Council of the League of Nations. While it is difficult to put a satisfactory formula, it is believed, given the initiative and support of the Great Powers, that the problem can be solved.’ 3. Although the note proposes a modified system of election based in principle on the International importance of the countries chosen, it is pretty evident that the plain object of the memorandum is to obtain a place on the Security Council for Canada. I do not want to stand in the way of Canada but the claim of Australia to a place on Council is equally strong, if not stronger, having regard to our strategic position in the South Pacific and the nature of our war effort. It is most important in my view that at any given time either Australia or New Zealand should be on the Council.

4. It seems to me that Canada and Australia should be able to make common cause in securing representation on the Council for secondary Powers and in obtaining proper recognition of their position both as Dominions and as nations which have contributed substantially to victory and may be expected to take a substantial part in the maintenance of peace. The present move, however, may not do more than Canada’s own ambitions and may even be inimical to Australian interests. In view of the fact that the question of separate membership of Security organisation for the Soviet Republics is still undecided, the action may even be embarrassing.

5. Please let me know your reaction to the Canadian approach, having regard to the importance of obtaining for Australia, or for Australia and New Zealand, a seat on the Security Council without prejudicing just claims of others. Therefore, while taking the utmost care to leave the way fully open for close co-operation with Canada, I think we should watch the present Canadian move with the utmost care, particularly as it is doubtful whether the amendments proposed by Canada in regard to the special security agreements to be negotiated under Chapter VIII Section B would be suitable to the circumstances of countries like Australia and New Zealand. [3]


1 T. C. Davis.

2 Dated 16 January. On file AA:A1066, H45/765.

3 Australia and Canada were tied in the first election for non- permanent members of the Council but Canada subsequently withdrew and Australia was elected. Canada took a seat for the first time in 1948.


[AA:A3196, 1945, FOLDER, OUTWARDS MOST SECRET, 0.1406/7/8/9/1431/2/3/4]