Hasluck to Dunk

Memorandum LONDON, 14 December 1945


1. When the United Nations is established by the first meeting of the General Assembly in January, 1946, certain immediate problems relating to Australian participation in the work of the new organisation will arise. As Executive Officer of the Australian Delegation to the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations, I wish to bring these under the notice of the Department in order to assist it in placing the appropriate submissions to the Minister for External Affairs on his return to Australia. The following observations are based chiefly on experience as Australian Delegate to the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission and as one of the Alternate Delegates to the Preparatory Commission itself.

2. It is assumed that the General Assembly will meet, as planned, on January 10th and continue until early February. The interests of Australia during the Assembly will be served by the Delegation appointed for that purpose but, as soon as the Assembly ends, it may be expected that the members of the Delegation will be dispersed.

3. In the subsequent months, however, a number of duties arising from Australian membership of the United Nations will have to be performed. These will include- (a) Preparations for and attendance at the second part of the First Assembly, probably in April, 1946.

(b) Attendance at the final session of the Assembly of the League of Nations, probably about April, 1946, though possibly earlier.

(c) Participation in the work of any of the Councils of the United Nations to which Australia may be elected or in the work of any special committees or commissions. In the case of the Security Council this would mean continuous representation; in the case of the Economic and Social Council it would mean attendance at inaugural meetings in January or February and at further meetings at least each quarter.

(d) Preparations for and attendance at the second Assembly at the beginning of September, 1946.

(e) Preparation for and attendance at any special conferences called by the United Nations. Probable subjects are health, refugees, trade.

(f)Possibly, from February onwards, negotiations regarding the creation of the trusteeship organ and trusteeship agreements.

(g) Possibly, preliminary consideration of the special security agreements to be concluded under Article 45 of the Charter.

(h) Various organisational questions-the recruiting of the Secretariat, the granting of privileges and immunities to the organisation, the planning commission for permanent headquarters, the work of the advisory group on administrative and budgetary questions, further examination of matters concerning the relations with specialised agencies-and numerous other subjects are also likely to be engaging the interest of members of the United Nations almost continuously until September.

4. The decision for the handling of the above-mentioned matters will depend on the arrangements made for establishing the Organisation. The present expectation is that the first meetings of the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council will be held in London in January or February during the first part of the General Assembly; that, when the Assembly rises, the Organisation will be transferred to the permanent seat of the United Nations, where the Secretariat will be assembled; and that the April and September meetings of the Assembly, future meetings of the Councils and most of the special conferences are likely to be held at the permanent headquarters. More or less continuous activity at the headquarters of the United Nations, wherever it may be, can be foreseen during the greater part of 1946.

5. It is submitted that the conditions described above will require special arrangements for Australian participation, both in the form of a permanent representative at the headquarters of the United Nations and in the form of delegations sent to Assemblies and conferences. [1] Neither method would alone be adequate and each will be necessary to the other. A permanent representative will be required to give continuous attention to the problems arising at the headquarters and special missions will be required when the formality of the occasion or the technical nature of the subject calls for them.

6. The positive case for immediately appointing a permanent representative rests on the following facts:-

(a) It is necessary for the discharge of our responsibilities as members, and will assist the establishment of the organisation.

(b) The headquarters of the United Nations will be a centre for the exchange of information both as to the work of the organisation and international affairs generally, and for the establishing of friendly relations with other Governments. All the great powers and most of the middle powers intend to appoint representatives and Australia will be at a disadvantage in the organisation if it does not do the same.

(c) Representation is necessary to obtain support from other Governments of the views we may wish to advance or the candidacy for office which we may favour in the future sessions of the organs of the United Nations.

(d) The effectiveness of our participation in meetings of the organs of the United Nations may depend to a considerable extent on the preparatory work we can do at the United Nations headquarters, our familiarity with all branches of the Secretariat, and with other delegations, and our knowledge of the methods of work of the Organisation.

(e) Representation at the headquarters is a necessary (although not always the sole) means for participating in the work of any elected councils or committees of which Australia is a member.

(f) Representation at the headquarters is a necessary and probably the only method by which Australia can keep closely in touch with the work of any elected council or committee of which we are not a member.

(g) Permanent representation at the headquarters will facilitate the work of Australian delegations to special conferences called at the headquarters.

(h) Particularly during the first eight or nine months, when the organisation is still in a formative stage, representation at the headquarters will be essential to ensure that Australia is kept closely in touch with developments and that its influence is felt.

7. In elaboration of point (e) and (g) above, it is suggested that the best results in representation on standing committees or at conferences can be obtained by using both a permanent representative and special delegations sent for particular purposes. For the greater part, the success of delegations will depend, not only on the expert knowledge of the subject in hand, but also on the skill and discretion of the advocates, the confidence obtained from other members of these bodies, and knowledge of the procedures and methods of work. The position of permanent representative and special mission may be compared to that of barrister and counsel, each of whom is necessary to the other. It is suggested that, whether at an Assembly or on the Councils, the most effective representation can be brought about by a combination of the permanent representative at the headquarters and the special expert delegation sent when particular matters are under consideration. With the aid of a permanent representative the striking power of any special mission can be doubled.

8. For the reasons outlined above, it is submitted that the basis of Australian participation in the work of the United Nations should be the appointment of a permanent representative at the headquarters of the United Nations to take up duty immediately after the meeting of the first part of the General Assembly.

9. It is suggested that the major qualifications required of a good representative would be:-

(a) Diplomatic skill and skill in advocacy.

(b) Thorough knowledge of all aspects of Australian foreign policy.

(c) Thorough knowledge of the Charter, structure and procedure of the United Nations and the background of its establishment.

(d) Reliability in reporting.

(e) Sufficient standing and those personal and domestic qualities which are necessary to enable him to gain the respect and confidence of representatives of other members of the United Nations.

10. Except for (c) these are qualities which might be asked of any senior diplomatic representative abroad. It need only be added that, the ‘diplomatic corps’ at the United Nations headquarters is likely to be more highly expert and more highly specialised in matters of international organisation than the diplomatic corps at a national capital, and that the representatives will have to engage in rather more advocacy and discussion around conference tables than the average Minister of Legation. These points of specialisation suggest the selection of the professional rather than the political representative.

11. Questions of rank, staff and establishment etc., will necessarily wait on a decision regarding the appointment of such a representative, but it may be added that rank should be such as to ensure that the Australian representative is not at a disadvantage to other representatives. Accreditation will be direct to the United Nations.

12. The appointment of a representative at the permanent headquarters would not altogether remove the necessity of sending special missions to assist in the handling of various questions mentioned in paragraph (3) above but each case would have to be treated on its merits as it arose.



1 Australia did not have a permanent representative to the League of Nations in Geneva. Delegates to Assemblies had been appointed from the ranks of high commissioners in London, visiting ministers and government officials.


[AA : A1067, UN46/GEN/2]