Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 22 CANBERRA, 27 January 1945


1. Your D. No. 148. [1]

The claim of Russia for separate representation for its component Republics depends in principle upon whether each republic is a free international unit with power to take up a separate and distinct attitude in international affairs from that taken by the Soviet itself. Each of the five British Dominions fully answers to such a principle which is illustrated by the neutrality of Eire in the present war and the state of war declared by the other four Dominions. India, however, hardly answers to the principle because under the Indian constitution, its external policy is not determined by India alone.

2. There is a practical side to the question. At the recent aviation conference in Chicago there were 51 states represented, some of them with little international significance and no share whatever in the present war. Yet the views of nations which had borne the brunt of the fighting in this war were over-ridden by the block votes on the part of 19 South American countries. The Soviet sees this and also considers that the British Dominions will generally act in concert with the United Kingdom. Therefore, it is determined not to be outvoted.

3. We think it is most inadvisable to treat this question of Russian republics in isolation from other questions of world organisation, some of which were recently referred to you as a result of the Wellington Conference between the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

4. You recently decided to support President Roosevelt’s suggestion of a compromise on the vexed question of the necessity for unanimity in certain matters going before the proposed Security Council. We agree with President Roosevelt’s suggestion, but there, as in the case of the present matter, we did not think it wise to treat the question in isolation from other crucial questions involved in the proposed organisation. One of those other crucial questions is that of representation of the Russian component republics.

5. It is not possible to deal by cable with the possible suggestions and counter suggestions which may arise in the course of bargaining. It might be wise to yield to Russia on the question of Council veto only if Russia agreed to abandon her claim for separate representation of her component republics. The attitude of Canada to the organisation and the Council will, no doubt, be affected by the probable composition of the Council. In many respects Australia’s attitude corresponds to that of Canada. You have already indicated that you propose that the British Commonwealth shall consult together on these matters before final decisions are reached. The process of bargaining and compromise [is a difficult one but it is unavoidable. If we give way or compromise] [2] on each point as though it were a separate and unrelated point the general result may be very far from satisfactory.

6. For the reasons set out we would prefer that the minimum degree of commitment be made on the present question and also in that of the right of veto.


1 Dispatched 25 January, on file AA:1066, H45/765. It sought an early reply to Document 6.

2 Words in square brackets have been inserted from the Washington copy, on file AA:A3300/5, 1945, Post War: International World Organisation.


[AA:A1066, H45/765]