Hood to Shedden

Memorandum CANBERRA, 8 May 1945


With reference to your memorandum of 4th May [1] concerning press reports and statements on the above subject by the Right Honourable F. M. Forde and the Right Honourable H. V. Evatt at the United Nations Conference at San Francisco, the full text of the statement by the former to the Plenary session of the Conference is awaited. A summary of this statement has been received. [2]

2. The section of this statement dealing with trusteeship (see Annex attached [3]) indicates that Australian representatives at San Francisco, have been following the lines of policy approved by the Government and publicly announced in Australia over the past three years. His statement stressed that the main purpose of the administration of dependent or undeveloped territories is the welfare and advancement of the native peoples. The view was expressed that the Mandate System established after the last war had, on the whole, worked reasonably well, embodying the principle of trusteeship which in modern times appears to have been frequently recognised in relation to their colonial possessions by the positive unilateral declarations of colonial Powers.

Australian representatives accordingly were stated to favour (a) continuance of the Mandate system;

(b) the establishment of new Mandates;

(c) the recognition of the principle that the purpose of the administration of dependent territories is the welfare and advancement of the peoples of such territories;

(d) the setting up of an expert organ of the United Nations, the function of which will be to inform the world organisation of the welfare and progress of the peoples of the mandated territories or such other dependent territories as may be determined upon by appropriate action.

3. The principles put forward by Australian representatives at San Francisco do not affect the authority and responsibility of Australia existing under the present mandate for Nauru. The powers of supervision which may be provided for a special organ of the United Nations organisation would, in accordance with agreed Australian - New Zealand policy, be essentially similar to those of the Permanent Mandates Commission, namely the reception and publication of reports from the Mandatory Power as to the manner in which its mandate has been administered. All mandatory powers would of course be subject to this review of their administrative record.

4. There has been no suggestion that any mandates for which Australia is now responsible should be removed from our administration and control. There will be no discussion, however, of particular mandates at San Francisco. Any decision will be in the form of a recommendation to the United Nations as to the general terms on which mandates should be held. One important amendment sponsored by the Australian delegation, provides that a mandatory power may in future undertake defence measures in the mandated territory. Apart from the effect of this and any other principles advocated for consideration at San Francisco, the existing position of the Commonwealth as the administering agent for the three Powers (United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia) entrusted with the mandate for Nauru, could only be altered by agreement between Australia and the other two Powers concerned.


J. D. L. H.

Acting Secretary


1 At a meeting of the Advisory War Council on 3 May (minute 1512), W.M. Hughes had expressed some concern about Australian control of phosphate-rich Nauru. Chifley, acting for Curtin who was in hospital, undertook to obtain advice and on that account Shedden wrote to Hood on 4 May. See Shedden’s memorandum, on file AA :

A1066, P45/153/2, ii.

2 Document 80.

3 Not published.

4 The matter was discussed by Advisory War Council (Minute 1528) on 10 May, when ‘doubt was expressed by some non-Government members as to the application of the principles of trusteeship, as envisaged in Clause 28 of the Australian - New Zealand Agreement, to all British colonial territories in the Pacific and elsewhere’.

It was agreed that there should be further discussion but no record of any subsequent discussion has been found.


[AA : A1066, P45/153/2, ii]