Australian Delegation, U.N. Preparatory Commission, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 12287 LONDON, 9 December 1945, 8.12 p.m.



1. Full dress debate in committee 8 on site of permanent headquarters of United Nations has commenced following two days manoeuvering over procedure. As there has been no decision re manner in which vote will eventually be taken and as debate will be allowed to range over whole field, components of executive committee’s recommendation have considerably reduced if not removed altogether the handicap which executive committee recommendation placed on them and doubtless they will continue to work as they did during the past three days to ensure that the questions are eventually put to vote in the manner calculated to divide those in favour of recommendation or lead to abstentions.

2. The debate itself will be in the nature of an informal poll and speakers declare their defence. To date Canada, Poland, Greece, Netherlands and Belgium have spoken in favour of site in Europe and Philippines, Cuba, Australia and Chile in favour of site in the United States. Informal poll cannot at present produce more than 26 firm supporters for the United States. About 12 states are strong for Europe and about 12 including Arab states hold balance with present prospect that many of them will swing to Europe.

3. In yesterday’s debate Hodgson for Australia referred to statement by Dr. Evatt before executive committee in favour of San Francisco. Australian vote would go to San Francisco not because it was in the United States but because it was most suitable site.

Before we could argue for San Francisco we must argue for the United States. Australia would always be mindful of Europe but concern was not with one continent but with world, not with preservation of European civilisation but with preservation of civilisation itself. Answering argument that Europe was likely to be the centre of future international problems, Hodgson said that the middle east and far east were just as likely to have problems and in fact late war had its origins in China Incident just as much as in any European incident. Yet no one argued that for this reason headquarters should be in the middle east or far east.

Rather we argued that the site should be sufficiently detached to see the world as a whole. Organisation must not become immersed in local or continental problems to detriment of world problems.

Organisation also needed making of will and determination of peoples of the world and they looked for a new start and a new outlook. This choice fell on the United States. Positive advantages of the United States in communications amenities material resources were then indicated and argument of difficulty of access was answered by reference to modern air transport and fact that member states would probably maintain permanent representatives at headquarters. Argument which had been advanced by Spaak [1] of Belgium that headquarters should not be in territory of permanent member of security council was strongly contested and it was advanced that such an argument imputed that great powers would not act in accordance with their obligations under charter. Concluding we stated a vote for the United States would give conditions of freedom and security and an atmosphere in which organisation could achieve its objective.


1 Belgian Foreign Minister.


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