501.BC–Indonesia/10–2547: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Acting Secretary of State 30

us urgent

1088. The following is the draft statement and resolution referred to my previous telegram on Indonesia:

The Council has now had an opportunity to examine the report of the Consular Commission and should be prepared to take a decision on this question at an early date.

It is clear that we face a difficult and complex problem in our efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities and a settlement of the broad issues. I am more than ever impressed with the doubtful wisdom of attempting to resolve these complicated issues by decision here in this Council. I therefore stand on the statement I made to the Council at its last meeting and upon the basic principles of the resolution which I put forward at that time. I think our best hope of success in attaining our ultimate objective in this case is to place the matter in the hands of our Good Offices Committee.

In our opinion, the report in general confirms and supports the summary conclusions which the Consular Commission sent to us in its telegram of October 11 and which appears as Chapter IV of the report. It fills in a good many of the details for us and provides essential information on which it is possible for us to take action. It is apparent that while major military action has ceased in accordance with our cease-fire resolution, hostilities are continuing with substantial loss of life on both sides. Our cease-first [fire] resolution is really not yet fully effective. The report of the Consuls indicates that the major source of difficulty in bringing about a cessation of hostilities has been the difference of opinion between the parties as to the proper interpretation of the Council’s resolution. It seems to us that it is up to the Security Council to remove this serious difficulty and misunderstanding. If this is done, it seems quite likely that the parties themselves with the aid of the Good Offices Committee will be able to work out an effective truce.

As I said the other day, my Government’s view is that our resolution of August 1 should be interpreted as not permitting the use of the armed forces of either party by military action to alter substantially [Page 1062] the territory under its control, or in other words which it actually occupied, on the effective date of the cessation of hostilities which, as I understand it, is August 4. We believe that the forces of either party are entitled to remain undisturbed in the positions which they held on August 4.

It is my view that it would be advisable for the Council to clarify its resolution of August 1 along the above lines. In fact it seems to me that it would be extremely difficult for our Committee of Good Offices to be of any assistance to the parties in reaching agreement on the cessation of hostilities unless the Council has in advance advised the parties and the Committee as to the proper interpretation of that resolution.

Even with this clarification it seems clear that the parties and the Committee of Good Offices will face a very confused and difficult situation during the period before an agreement has been reached for an effective truce. The Consuls’ report indicates that the Indonesians claimed that between August 5 and September 26 the Dutch had violated the cease-fire resolution in 811 specific instances. On the other hand, according to the Dutch, the Indonesians had violated the ceasefire resolution in 1,792 specific instances during the same period. Also, the Consuls’ report is replete with instances where one or the other party considered itself justified in particular cases in taking military action which amounted to a technical violation of the cease-fire resolution. In addition, certain specific cases have been mentioned in the Council where it seems clear that technical violations for one or another reason might be justified. As has been pointed out, with the best of good will it has been and will undoubtedly continue to be impossible for each party to know in a particular situation whether in taking certain action it is technically violating the Council’s resolution of August 1, or whether the existing circumstances justify such action. I think, here again, we must rely upon our representatives on the spot to help the parties and the Council reach a solution of these problems. Our Committee of Good Offices has already arrived in Indonesia, as I understand it. It would seem to my delegation that perhaps the best way to handle this particular problem would be to ask the parties, where they consider an action which technically violates the Council’s resolution of August 1 is justifiable in a particular set of circumstances, to report such technical violations to the Committee of Good Offices and together with the reasons therefor. If these cases give rise to difficulties with the other party, they can then be examined by the Committee or the Consular Commission.

Revised draft United States resolution:31

“The Security Council

Having received and taken note of the report of the Consular Commission dated October 14, 1947, indicating that the Council’s resolution of August 1, 1947, relating to the cessation of hostilities has not been fully effective;

Having taken note that according to the report no attempt was made by either side to come to an agreement with the other about the means of giving effect to that resolution;

[Page 1063]

Calls upon the parties concerned forthwith to consult with each other as to the means to be employed in order to give effect to the ceasefire resolution, and pending agreement to cease any activities which contravene that resolution, unless special justification exists in particular cases. The parties are requested to report such particular cases where they have considered it justifiable to take action inconsistent with the Council’s resolution of August 1, together with the justification therefor, to the Consular Commission;

Requests the Committee of Good Offices to assist the parties in reaching agreement on an arrangement which will ensure the observance of the cease-fire resolution;

Requests the Consular Commission, together with its military assistants, to make its services available to the Committee of Good Offices;

Advises the parties concerned, the Committee of Good Offices, and the Consular Commission that its resolution of August 1 should be interpreted as not permitting the use of the armed forces of either party by military action to alter substantially the territory under its control on August 4, 1947.”

  1. The general approach outlined in telegrams 1087 and 1088 was approved by the Department by telephone on October 27, but Senator Austin’s remarks that day caused the Department to make a remonstrance orally concerning one aspect of the statement. (501.BC Indonesia/10–2747, 10–2947) For Ambassador Austin’s statement as actually made to the Security Council on October 27, see SC, 2nd yr., p. 2640.
  2. For text of revised draft submitted on October 27, see SC, 2nd yr., p. 2644, footnote 1. The portion of the third paragraph beginning “unless special justification” was omitted in the draft submitted by Ambassador Austin.