Forde and Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram E34 SAN FRANCISCO, 18 May 1945, 11.08 p.m.


1. During the past fortnight Committees of Conference met daily, progress considerably delayed by frequent interruption of debate by discussions on procedure but important decisions will shortly be taken.

2. After the conference opened the Sponsoring Powers prepared a list of 27 further amendments to the Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta Proposals. An attempt was made to have these joint amendments incorporated in the Dumbarton Oaks text but the Steering Committee at our instigation decided that they should be placed before the conference as amendments to the basic text and voted on in a similar manner to proposals submitted by other participating Governments. The immense burden of the conference work is indicated by the fact that comments and proposals of all Delegations fill 350 page volume. Most Committees have appointed Sub-Committees to analyse proposals and isolate main issues to be considered. Progress of the Committees to date is reviewed below with special reference to the part taken by the Australian Delegation.

3. Commission I Committee 1 (preamble purposes and principles). A preamble proposed by South Africa laying emphasis on ‘fundamental human rights’ has been accepted in principle with reservations as to the final form. Insertion in chapter 1 of references to justice and international law, territorial integrity and political independence and sanctity of treaties has been discussed and redraft is being prepared.

4. Commission I Committee 2 (membership principal organs secretariat and amendment). During the debate on chapter III we modified our own amendment and associated ourselves with the United Kingdom in proposing the following draft- ‘Membership of the organisation should be open to all peace loving states which in the judgement of the organisation are able and ready to accept the principles and obligations contained in the Charter’.

This proposal was unanimously approved. Membership issues were also debated on Commission II Committee 1 (see below) where we made clear our aversion from the easy admittance of ex enemy states and neutrals who had acknowledged the enemy.

5. Among other issues arising on Committee I/2 is composition of secretariat including Big Four Proposal that Security Council should recommend appointment of four deputies of Secretary General as well as a Secretary General himself. We will strongly support New Zealand amendment designed to ensure that Secretariat is truly international in character and that key positions are not assigned to Nationals of Powers with permanent seats on Council.

6. Commission II Committee 1 (Assembly, structure and procedure).

Committee resolved that Secretary General should be appointed by Assembly on recommendation by at least seven of the Security Council. Soviet, however, takes the view that this decision affects provisions re voting procedure on Council and has contested power of Committee 2/1 to make such a decision.

7. The requirement that Assembly should approve budgets (paragraph 5 of V (B)) will next be discussed. We have submitted following text ‘The General Assembly shall direct the preparation of the budget of the United Nations by the Secretary General, shall provide for the examination of the budget by an expert Advisory Agency, shall approve the budget and shall apportion among the members the expenses of the United Nations’. We also have in mind desirability of a single budget to be approved by Assembly for World Organisation and Subsidiary bodies.

8. There was considerable discussion of paragraph 2 of V (B) admission of new members and eight or nine proposals were advanced by various Delegations. We amplified our amendment to read ‘The General Assembly will admit new members to the United Nations provided that the General Assembly shall not, without the recommendation of Security Council admit to membership a state which at any time since 1st September, 1939, has been at war with any member of the United Nations or a state which since that date has given military assistance to any such state’. Debate was complicated by multiplicity of amendments before Committee simultaneously and one meeting on subject ended in complete confusion. Eventually Dumbarton Oaks text was approved.

9. Commission II Committee 2 (Assembly political and Security functions). After preliminary debate on powers of Assembly in relation to Security Council the Committee on Australia’s suggestion appointed Sub-Committee which prepared a list of nine questions to be answered in order to establish the principles on which this section of charter should be drafted. These questions are now being discussed. Before deciding to follow this procedure the Committee had accepted a composite amendment made up from a joint proposal by the Sponsoring Powers and a proposal by the United States to expand paragraph 6 of V (B) to give power to the Assembly subject to paragraph 1 of V (B) to initiate studies and to promote international co-operation and to ‘recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation regardless of origin which it deems likely to impair the general welfare including situations resulting from a violation of the purposes and principles set forth in the Charter’. At a later stage the Sponsoring Powers and France gave notice of their agreement to redraft paragraph 1 of V (B) but the terms of their proposal still do not wholly satisfy our amendment although making concession to point of view we have expressed. Our amendment is still prominently before Committee.

10. Commission II Committee 3 (Economic and Social Co-operation).

This Committee has recommended that Economic and Social Council be one of the principal organs and Committee I/2 has accepted the recommendation. General discussion in chapter IX (A) is proceeding. The Sponsoring Powers have moved to insert the reference to ‘respect for the principle of equal rights and self determination of peoples’ and to make the reference to fundamental freedoms read as follows:-‘Fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, language, religion or sex’. All amendments were referred to the Drafting Sub-Committee on which we are represented and eventually following draft was approved by Committee.

11. Commission III Committee 4 (Trusteeship). Proposals on trusteeship have been presented by the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, France, China and the Soviet Union. The result will be reported later.

12. Commission III Committee 1 (Security Council, structure and procedures). The Sponsoring Powers submitted an amendment stating that in filling the non-permanent seats on the Council due regard should be ‘specially paid in the first instance to the contribution of members of the organisation towards the maintenance of International peace and security and towards the other purposes of the organisation and also the equitable geographical distribution’. This amendment recognises the two points for which we fought in London and on which we have insisted in all public statements. Having succeeded in principle we withdrew our amendment on the subject. Big Four amendment has been approved.

13. Committee also gave detailed consideration to the first sentence of the paragraph setting out the total number of Security Council. For two days Latin American and Middle East Delegations spoke vehemently in favour of increasing the size of the Council and introduced several amendments to that effect. Overnight, however, they changed their minds and another meeting was occupied by the speeches they made in withdrawing all their amendments ‘in the interests of the Unity’. The original proposal for eleven members was agreed to by 36 votes to nil. It was obvious that some bargain had been struck. We had expressed no view on the issue but in common with five other Delegations including New Zealand we publicly abstained from voting in order to make it clear that we were not in any way associated with whatever bargaining had taken place and in order to retain our future liberty of action.

14. Voting procedure on Council is likely to become a major issue on this Committee during the next few days.

15. Commission III Committee 2 (Peaceful settlement). The Sponsoring Powers have proposed amendments to Chapter VIII (A) designed to have the following effect:-

(A) A new paragraph to give the Security Council at the request of the parties to a dispute the power to make recommendations concerning its settlement even if the continuance of the dispute is not likely to endanger maintenance of peace;

(B) An addition to paragraph 2 requiring a non-member to accept the obligations of the Charter in case it has brought any dispute to the attention of the World Organisation;

(C) A revision of paragraph 4 to make it clear that the intention of this paragraph is that if a dispute is not settled by the means indicated in paragraph 3 the parties should be obligated to refer it to the Security Council with the object of obtaining a peaceful settlement. The Security Council then might not only recommend procedures but also the actual terms on which the dispute should be settled;

(D) Deletion of paragraph 7 and insertion of a new paragraph in Chapter II (principles) to exclude issues of domestic jurisdiction from the application of paragraphs 1 to 6 section A but not from the application of Section B of Chapter VIII.

16. The proposal in (A) above has been accepted by the Committee and (B) is non-controversial. The idea expressed in (C) is acceptable to us. The same object would be served by our proposed amendment to first paragraph of VIII (B) the consideration of which by Committee 3 of Commission III has been referred at our suggestion for joint examination by Sub-Committees of 2 and 3.

17. The point in (D) however is vital. We regard it as essential that the exclusion of matters of domestic jurisdiction should apply to decisions of the Security Council under Section B as well as Section A. Without such a provision it would be possible for an Asiatic Power to object to our migration Policy and if it could be shown that a threat to peace had arisen the Security Council could proceed to recommend a settlement involving change in our Migration Policy as a condition necessary to remove the threat to peace. We have been negotiating with the United Kingdom on this matter and hope that an acceptable redrafting of the Big Four Proposal can be obtained. This is a matter of fundamental principle and we cannot compromise on it.

18. Commission III Committee 3 (Enforcement measures). Matters arising under paragraph 1 of VIII (B) which are dependent on decisions re Section A have been deferred. A protracted debate has taken place on the general question of the powers of Assembly in regard to enforcement. New Zealand moved that the Assembly should be associated with the Council in all decisions re enforcement and Canada proposed an amendment to the effect that in case of ‘serious enforcement measures’ a Country whose interests were specially affected should participate in the Security Council’s decision. After protracted debate the motion and amendment were withdrawn and particular proposals to amend the text of paragraph 1 to allow the Assembly to participate in decisions on enforcement were defeated.

19. Commission III Committee 4 (Regional Arrangements). This became one of the main issues of the Conference due primarily to the desire of the Latin American Bloc to prevent interference by the Security Council in a dispute arising in the Western Hemisphere at least until it had been established that the Regional Body (Pan American System) was unable to deal with such dispute. France too wanted her mutual assistance pact with Russia [1] to operate immediately without having to wait upon action by the Security Council although she is ready to give an account to the Security Council forthwith of the measures actually taken under the pact.

The Australian amendments were designed:-

(A) To retain the primary control by the Security Council over Regional enforcement action;

(B) To permit remission of a dispute by the Security Council to a Regional Body for enforcement action by a majority vote of the Council including 3 only of the permanent members (thus avoiding paralysis of action by the veto of One Great Power) and (C) To make it clear that if and when the Security Council decides not to take enforcement action itself and not to remit the matter to a Regional Body then States which are parties to any arrangements consistent with the Charter shall have the right to adopt such measures as they deem fit for maintaining or restoring peace and security.

A Sub-Committee consisting of the Five Great Powers, together with Australia, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Egypt, Chile and Mexico was set up to analyse, classify and, if possible, amalgamate the various amendments. In the course of the Sub-Committee’s work the United States produced a formula designed to satisfy Latin American Countries and the Great Powers. Outcome of discussion on this formula which adopted the chief features of the Australian proposals will be reported later.

20. Commission IV Committee 1 (International Court). This Committee took as the basis for its discussions the statute of the permanent court of international justice as revised by the Committee of Jurists which met in Washington in April. Australia has been appointed to a Sub-Committee to report on the question whether a new court should be established or the existing permanent court continued. Our view is that a new court is the only practicable course, though as much continuity as possible should be maintained.

21. Commission IV Committee 2 (Legal Problems). This Committee has recommended the adoption of clauses providing for the registration and publication of treaties for the legal supremacy of the charter and for the abrogation of agreements inconsistent with it along the general lines of articles 18 and 20 of the League Covenant.


1 A twenty-year Franco-Soviet Treaty of Alliance directed against renewed German aggression in Europe was signed in Moscow on 10 December 1944. The Soviet Union denounced the treaty on 7 May 1955.


[AA : A1066, H45/771/1]