Hasluck to Evatt

Cablegram Precom 10 LONDON, 31 August 1945, 9.25 p.m.


1. The first meetings of the 7 Technical Sub-Committees today elected Chairmen and arranged preliminary documentation. I felt obliged to decline chairmanship of the Committee on Specialised Organisations as it would be impossible with a small delegation to watch our interests on 10 Sub-Committees if closely tied to any one. As chairmen were elected for personal suitability and no attempt was made to distribute posts among nations I feel that our Delegation does not suffer any loss of prestige by not having a chairmanship.

2. At the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Assembly next Monday morning, there will be a general discussion on the role of the Assembly. In the course of debate, the question will be raised whether the First Assembly should be simply a constituent assembly to carry through necessary elections and other measures for the establishment of United Nations or whether its agenda should also include major questions of current importance, for example, conditions in Europe, trade in arms or urgent economic problems.

This question may be linked with a suggestion that a short meeting of the Assembly might be held in London towards the end of the year immediately following the final meeting of the Preparatory Commission and deal only with matters related to establishment of the United Nations. In such a case the second session would be called at a convenient time next year. I understand that the United States favours such a course. This morning, the ‘Times’ Diplomatic Correspondent, discussing the present importance of London as a diplomatic centre in view of the September meeting of Foreign Ministers, suggested that later in the year the Preparatory Commission which is expected to bring representatives of 50 nations to London might, after approving of the work of the Executive Committee, vote to change its status to that of the First Assembly. So far as I can gather this article did not have its inspiration in British Official quarters but I am uncertain what the view of the British Delegation will be.

3. Subject to your instructions I propose to take the line that the agenda of the First Assembly should include not only matters related to establishment of various organisations of United Nations but also any matters of substance within the scope of the Charter as may be brought before it by any Member Government or by the Executive Committee. The general objective should be to ensure that from the outset the Assembly is an active and effective body for serving all purposes and principles of the Charter and that it establishes its character as a deliberative body fully discharging all the functions and powers in Articles 10-17. The alternatives before us are- (A) Whether the Assembly begins by setting up various organisations and then waits for those organisations to go to work separately and eventually bring proposals under its notice or- (B) Whether the Assembly not only establishes various organisations but immediately affirms its power to express opinions and to direct these organisations to consider specified questions.

4. I feel, however, that this problem cannot be dissociated from such questions as permanent location of the United Nations Headquarters, events in Europe and the Far East and progress made towards Peace Settlements at September meetings, e.g. it may be that instead of hastening the establishment of the Security Council as the Americans apparently wish, circumstances may make it preferable to allow a period of several months during which the Council of Foreign Ministers could be used in handling post armistice problems. If it so appeared, it would be desirable to defer calling the First Assembly until April or May. I would therefore wish to be able to exercise some discretion in pressing the views outlined above in the light of whatever arguments may be produced during the debate, and would also appreciate any guidance that could be given to our Delegation on the following points- (A) Whether Australia wants to expedite or delay the setting up of the Security Council.

(B) Whether we have any firm view on calling the First Assembly in London or elsewhere.

(C) Whether, generally speaking, we intend to use the First Assembly for consideration of major political problems of Post War Settlement.



[AA : A1066, H45/777/2]