Hasluck to Evatt

Cablegram Precom 9 LONDON, 30 August 1945, 7.35 p.m.


1. The Executive Committee has now completed consideration of the memorandum on methods of work and terms of reference for its technical sub-committees. Slow progress was due mainly to long debates on:-

(a) Composition of the Interim Secretariat.

(b) Consultation with existing international organisations and, (c) Admission of the Press to Committee meetings.

2. Discussion on the Interim Secretariat was important insofar as it foreshadowed possible future differences over the creation of a truly international Secretariat for United Nations. The Soviet Delegation, while not disclosing their own views, clearly opposed several proposals designed to ensure efficient Secretariat, independent of national control and chosen from among all nationals of United Nations in accordance with principles in paragraph 3 of Charter. The United Kingdom now places a very high value on the creation of a competent International Secretariat to ensure success of United Nations. Australia supported them strongly following the line of our Delegation at San Francisco. A satisfactory statement on the method of organising the Interim Secretariat has been accepted.

3. Debate on proposals for consultation with existing International organisations was similarly prolonged by Soviet opposition. Their objections were mainly against any use being made of the League of Nations but it was argued against them that the Executive Committee had definite obligations to transfer certain functions of the League and should also make use of technical experience of League officials in various fields. In keeping with paragraph 2 of Interim agreement it was eventually agreed that Executive Committee should make use of special knowledge and experience of and take evidence from qualified International organisations. The sub-committees may also avail themselves of special knowledge and experience of qualified National organisations or individuals. This formula was only accepted after many hours debate overcoming Soviet objections. The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands were leading proponents of this formula with occasional support from Czechoslovakia, France and Brazil.

4. The United Kingdom has made repeated efforts to ensure admission of the Press to full meetings of the Committee but the majority including the United States and Soviet Union have been against. We favoured fullest possible freedom for the Press.

5. The Committee has now drafted terms of reference for 10 subcommittees adding a new sub-committee on court and legal problems. Sub committees on assembly, economic and social council, court, secretariat, relations with specialised agencies, League of Nations and general questions should commence work at the coming weekend. Subcommittees on security council, trusteeship council and finance have been deferred for about 3 weeks.

6. During preliminary discussions it has become clear that under the new Government the United Kingdom is ready to make individual stand on points of principle such as those outlined above and is less likely to worship 5 power unanimity at any cost. They are also more sympathetic to the place of lesser powers in the organisation. In personal conversation yesterday Noel Baker who was associated with foundation of League expressed to me the definite view that the United Nations could not succeed on ‘Five power basis’ alone and he regarded emphasis on the five powers in the charter as weakness. The security provisions amounted simply to military alliance and in a real crisis the alliance would end.

A more soundly based system must be evolved. He also expressed the definite view that the assembly must be an active deliberation body. The United Kingdom Delegation on the Executive Committee will work to ensure that the first assembly is a success. These personal views, which of course cannot be quoted, are reported in support of my impression on the Committee that the United Kingdom views on World Organisation are undergoing a change.

7. One subject which the United Kingdom proposes should be raised at early sessions of United Nations is trade in arms. Following the lines of your Sydney statement 24th August on the Atomic Bomb [1] I would suggest that we must also consider that means of bringing urgent armaments question before assembly and council.

8. Discussion has also revealed that several delegations are in favour of bringing urgent questions in the social and economic field before initial sessions of the appropriate organisations of the United Nations. The Australian Delegation took a leading part in this discussion and eventually the Australian formula was adopted adding the following words to the terms of reference for economic and social sub-committee, ‘This sub-committee should also consider what action is necessary under the provisions of the Charter to deal with urgent problems in the economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related fields and what priority should be given to these problems’. Consequently we should be ready to place suggestions before the sub-committee, recognising however that the Executive Committee’s function is limited to preparing agenda and documents and that it can [2] the United States Delegation, represented at most meetings by officials, has been apparently hampered by necessity of obtaining Washington instructions. Stettinius arrives tomorrow.

_1 Not located. Evatt’s widely reported speech in Sydney on 24 August dealt with Australian claims for a voice in the peace settlements (see Document 217 and note 1 thereto). On 30 August, in a second-reading speech on the Charter of the United Nations Bill in the House of Representatives, Evatt urged that the destructive power of the new weapon was too great to be entrusted to one power, and that its control by an impartial security council under special safeguards would be a powerful deterrent against future aggression (Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 184, p. 5037).

2 A sign here indicates ‘small portion omitted’.


[AA : A1066, H45/777/2]