740.00119 Council/9–1345

The Australian, Minister for External Affairs ( Evatt ) to the Secretary of State 85

Dear Mr. Byrnes: As a result of our conversation this morning,86 I now submit in writing certain considerations which appear to me to bear on the question of how and to what degree other Governments should be associated with the activities of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

I realise that you are fully aware that this question is of pressing importance. There is consequently no need for me to recapitulate here the general reasons why the association, in some form, of other Governments with the discussions and decisions of the Council is both just and desirable.

As I see it, the point to which attention should now be given is how this can be effected in a way which will not only pay proper regard to the claims and status of other countries which have been principal [Page 157] belligerents in this war, but will at the same time preserve the essential requirement of expeditious handling of the principles and matters to be discussed.

The suggestions hitherto made at the meeting of deputies yesterday morning and later at the meeting of the Council in the particular connection of the Italian Peace Treaty have, generally speaking, attempted to meet the problem by trying to arrange interested Governments not represented on the Council into categories, e.g., those “directly interested” or those “directly attacked” or again those who may have made a particular contribution to the defeat of the enemy. The difficulties which this method of approach leads to were, I understand, very clearly shown in the discussions of the Council yesterday. The Italian Peace Treaty is only the first of matters to come up before the Council in which other Governments will feel themselves concerned. If arrangements have to be threshed out ad hoc in each succeeding case I can see no end to discussions of the same general character.

The fact is, I submit, that to attempt to define the precise degree of concern or interest of other Governments in the matters coming before the Council is a quite unnecessary complication of an essentially simple issue. In the same way as the five members of the Council are in the last resort acknowledged as representing the United Nations in the immediate handling of matters relating to the Peace settlements, I cannot see why there should not be associated with the Council—and not only for the present meeting—a corresponding group of countries which would broadly represent the remaining United Nations in the discussion of matters coming before the Council of more than localised concern.

If the criterion for inclusion in this group was the broad one—and I believe the only right one—of active and sustained belligerence against the three Axis Powers, these associate members of the Council would be comparatively few in number and would in no way be a hindrance to the work of the Council, far less a cause of delay, in fact, than would be occasioned by some of the procedures already suggested for association of other Governments with the activities of the Council. For the sake of illustration and without any intention of rigidity at this stage, I would suggest that the group might consist of the four British Dominions, Yugoslavia, Greece, Poland and perhaps Brazil. No question of voting is involved and the associate membership would keep the Council within easily manageable proportions.

It would be entirely within the province of the Council itself to nominate such a group to constitute its associate members. If the Council were willing to do this, I feel sure that you will agree that [Page 158] it is an arrangement which would obviate once and for all the kind of really unnecessary difficulties which have arisen in connection with the Peace Treaty with Italy. One further advantage which I see from the nomination of such a panel is that it would also provide a sound and equitable basis for the working of subordinate committees of the Council and the conduct of the work of the Council in the intervals between sessions.

I submit the above to you for your earnest consideration.

So far as Australia is concerned, we would feel our exclusion from participation in the Council’s work to be incompatible with our sustained war effort against all our enemies in this war—an effort which you and the President have both acknowledged.

I am at your call if you desire to have these suggestions further elaborated.

Yours sincerely

H. V. Evatt
  1. Handwritten marginal notation reads: “Delivered by hand at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 13.”
  2. No record of this conversation has been found.