Forde and Evatt to Curtin

Cablegram E32 SAN FRANCISCO, 28 April 1945, 10.49 a.m.


The main business of the Conference to date has been in the Steering Committee. Australia secured election to the Executive Committee of fourteen whose function will be to serve the Steering Committee by preparing recommendations on major questions of policy and procedure. We had been omitted from the original list prepared by the sponsors, and our election resulted from direct diplomatic measures taken by Evatt in Washington, Paris and London during the past three weeks. The result is eminently satisfactory as we finally secured the support of the British, Americans and Russians. Membership of this important Body will allow us to take more effective part in the Conference work and we hope the recognition we have gained will also help towards recognition at a later stage when the Security Council is selected. It has been arranged between us that Dr. Evatt will represent Australia on the Executive Committee while Mr. Forde represents Australia on the Steering Committee and will exercise the vote but Dr. Evatt will also attend and will have the right to speak as Minister for External Affairs whenever necessary.

2. The statement by Mr. Forde at the second public plenary session was well received by the audience and press and appears to have had a useful effect on other Delegations. In contrast with the generalisations of other Delegations the statement was concrete and definite and gained respect on that account. The statement is strictly in accord with the attitude taken up in London talks and in Evatt’s public statements. Full text is being forwarded by air mail and a summary of the main points is given in a separate en clair telegram. [1]

3. Discussion in the Steering Committee on Russian proposals regarding joint presidency of the Conference and representation of Poland at the Conference underlined the basic problem of the Big Three without introducing any new element. Russia eventually accepted, with good grace [compromise] [2] by which the Presidency at the plenary session rotates among the Powers and the four sponsors delegate authority to the United States to preside at the business meetings. Unanimous agreement to the admission of Ukraine and White Russia helped to balance the decision on the Polish question. Acceptance by the Steering Committee of the Belgian motion expressing general hope that the Polish Government can be organised in time to permit representation to San Francisco is designed to place responsibility for solution of the reconstruction of the Polish Government fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Big Three.

4. Up to date the nature of the work on the Steering Committee has meant that the greater part of work has necessarily to be done by the Ministers. The Committee has not been handled well by Chairman Stettinius with the result that there has been irregular procedure and delay with undue public emphasis on what are after all comparatively minor issues. Immediately on arrival at San Francisco we had a meeting of the whole Australian Delegation and after reporting on London meetings and discussing the broad issue, distributed documents for their study including the long questionnaire we prepared in London. Within the next two or three days we shall appoint all consultants to the various Committees to be created by the Conference.


1 Document 80.

2 Inserted from the Washington copy, on file AA : A3300/5,1945 United Nations Conference: SF, Telegrams.


[AA : A1066, H45/771/1]