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

Cablegram 12627 LONDON, 23 December 1945, 4.45 p.m.



1. Committee 4 yesterday accepted without dissent a compromise resolution unanimously recommended by the Sub-Committee referred to in paragraph 2 of UNO.30. [1]

2. During the preceding day or two the attitudes within SubCommittee had unexpectedly stiffened, and complete break-down was threatened until the last moment. Agreement was only reached under strongest pressure to finish the Committee’s work so that the Preparatory Commission could end this week.

3. Eventual agreement was reached on an ill-expressed document markedly less satisfactory than the United Kingdom - United States draft quoted in paragraph 2 of UNO.30. In substance it is Yugoslav document PC/TC/6 with the opprobrious reference to ‘further delay’ on the part of mandatories removed, with the rigidity of the timetable reduced and with the insertion of a vague paragraph indicating that the general assembly will consider what methods are appropriate for the further consideration of the whole matter.

4. Full text of the document is as follows-

Taking into account that the United Nations has assumed the duty under Chapters XII and XIII of the Charter to establish a system of international trusteeship.

Considering that the system of international trusteeship is being established to promote in part, the objectives prescribed in Article 76 of the Charter- ‘(a) To further international peace and security.

(b) To promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the trust territories and their progressive development towards self-government or independence as may be appropriate to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and the freely expressed wishes of peoples concerned and as may be provided by the terms of each trusteeship agreement.

(c) To encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and to encourage recognition of inter-dependence of peoples of world and (d) To ensure equal treatment in social, economic and commercial matters for all members of the United Nations and their nationals and also equal treatment for latter in administration of justice with[out] prejudice to the attainment of the foregoing objectives and subject to provisions of Article 80.’ Considering that any delay in putting into effect the system of international trusteeship prevents the principles of such a system as declared in the Charter of the United Nations from being implemented, deprives populations of such territories as may be brought under the trusteeship system of opportunity of enjoying advantages arising from the implementation of time principles, considering that under Article 77 of the Charter there are three categories of territories to which the trusteeship system applies, two of which are for the time being uncertain namely B and C of Article 77 and that immediate action can be taken only in respect of territories under mandate (namely A of Article 77) considering that Article 80 of the Charter provides that there shall be no delay or postponement of negotiation and conclusion of agreements for placing mandated and other territories under the trusteeship system as provided for in Article 77 and considering that the trusteeship system of Charter cannot immediately be brought into being without close co-operation of States members of the United Nations now administering territories under mandates. The Preparatory Commission of the United Nations recommends General Assembly to adopt the following resolution- ‘The General Assembly of the United Nations calls on States administering territories in accordance with the League of Nations mandates to undertake practical steps in concert with other States directly concerned for the implementation of provisions of Article 79 of the Charter providing for conclusion of agreements on trusteeship term for each territory to be placed under the trusteeship system in order to submit these agreements for approval pieceably not later than the second part of the first session of the General Assembly.

Those trusteeship matters which will be taken up by the General Assembly at the first part of its first session with the purpose of expediting the establishment of trusteeship system will be considered by the Trusteeship Committee on General Assembly using methods which the assembly considers most appropriate for further consideration of these matters.’ 5. Since mandatories already administer territories under the system of international responsibility there are good practical grounds for beginning the trusteeship system with mandates. The preamble however of the Sub-Committee’s document is evidently designed to build up a case for contention that the Charter imposes a legal obligation on all mandataries to conclude trusteeship agreements immediately. Acceptance however of Yugoslav formula by the United States and Belgium and the urgency of bringing the debate to a conclusion in order to wind up the Preparatory Commission made it impossible to secure any change without putting Australia in a completely false position.

6. During the debate the Australian representative urged the unsoundness of some of the statements in the preamble but declared Australia’s willingness to accept the principle of the resolution.

He formally reserved his position if proposals in the preamble were to be discussed in the General Assembly. Other Delegations did the same thing to such an extent indeed that the Soviet and Ukraine delegates declared that if these matters were raised in Assembly they would feel free to withdraw concessions they had made-e.g. in respect of timetable.

7. It will be noted that the fifth recital in the preamble is not correct statement of the effect of Article 80 of the Charter. It will also be noted that phrase ‘call on’ in the resolution itself is form of imperative reserved in the Charter for action requiring members to discharge their legal obligations, e.g. Articles 33 and 41. A point made by the Australian representative was that action of the mandatory in bringing its territory under trusteeship will spring from its own voluntary decision in the same degree as action of the States responsible for any other non-self governing territory. We feet it necessary to stress these matters not so much because of their intrinsic importance but because there is so strong a tendency here to give a twist to the whole trusteeship chapters calculated to put administering authorities very much on the defensive and in the wrong. Hence the importance of maintaining in full the system envisaged by the Charter.

8. No admission has been made of either invalidity or inappropriateness of setting up a body of the type presented by a proposal of the Executive Committee for the Temporary Trusteeship Committee. The Soviet Delegate attempted at the end of the meeting to get in to report a formal statement that the Committee had found it impossible to approve the Executive’s reconsideration.

The Chairman undertook in presenting the Committee’s report to the Plenary Session to make it clear that the resolution accepted by the Committee replaced the Executive’s proposal. Formally of course the Executive’s recommendation has never been put to vote, but it would certainly not have carried the necessary majority.

The Soviet group disclosed an intensity of feeling about the proposed Temporary Trusteeship Committee out of all proportion to intrinsic merits of matters. Whether it was a mere question of prestige (they having been defeated in Executive) or whether their attitude was determined by fear that the establishment of such an organisation might have bearing on other matters not yet disclosed is impossible to say. In any event formula now accepted leaves the whole matter open for discussion at Assembly.

9. Proceedings of Committee 4 have shown the wisdom of providing for discussion of trusteeship matters by an expert body in which balance is preserved between administering and non-administering states. Some astonishing ignorance of colonial administration has been shown in more demagogic utterances to which the Committee has been treated from time to time. In such an atmosphere most liberal of trustee administrations can readily be made to appear most reactionary of imperialisms.

10. The Philippine proposal for insertion in the rules of the procedure of the Trusteeship Council of provisions designed to bring the Trusteeship Council into direct touch with political aspirations of the local inhabitants has also been finally disposed of after prolonged discussions. At the last moment the Ukraine representative abandoned the proposal mentioned at the end of paragraph 3 of UN030 for a resolution of the General Assembly and turned to proposal of elaborating Rule 58 of the rules of procedure. Without allowing any opportunity for discussion or amendment he successfully moved closure of the debate. The Australian representative abstained from voting and declared that while having regard to Rule 58 he could accept the proposal in principle. The closure of the debate had precluded the Committee from considering amendments necessary to make the proposal effective and appropriate as rule of procedure. As may be inferred temper of all Committees in the past few days has made it impossible to secure an extended discussion of major proposals on their merits. The desire to finish up has dominated all proceedings.

11. The Philippine Delegate at one stage questioned motives of those who had opposed his proposal. This drew an emphatic demand for withdrawal from the Australian representative who was supported by New Zealand and several other Delegations. The Philippine Delegate next day withdrew his imputation but added that he thought those who opposed him were approaching probably with an eye exclusively to interest of the administering authorities. This statement was also emphatically repudiated by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

12. As already stated the United Kingdom will declare in the first part of the General Assembly its willingness to bring all its mandated territories under the Trusteeship system. New Zealand will do same. Belgium has already made a declaration to the same effect. Having regard to the part Australia has played in the promotion of trusteeship provisions of the Charter we feel it would be most desirable that a similar declaration should be made on behalf of Australia immediately the matter comes on for discussion in the General Assembly.


1 Document 465.


[AA : A1066, H45/771/3]