WHAT has happened since Japan's surrender amply vindicates those who declared, so far back as 1942, that there could be no return to the colonial status quo in the Pacific area. World War II has injected powerful new factors into colonial history all over the world. Through its Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H. V. Evatt, the Government of Australia has gone on record, at home and abroad, with definite and constructive proposals for the future of dependent territories. The purpose of this article is to discuss these Australian proposals, and to sketch their background and development.

The Australian Government's views are applicable to dependent territories generally. They have been formed, however, with an eye specifically to the situation in the Pacific. As a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Australia is indirectly concerned with the future of the colonial areas of the west too. Her political outlook has been compared to the Australian penny -- with the King's head on one side, the Kangaroo on the other. The King's head symbolizes Australia's loyalty to the British connection, and all that that implies. The Kangaroo symbolizes her distinct national interest and consciousness, as she looks out north and east, toward Asia and the Pacific. Indeed, she may truly be regarded as a quasi-peninsula, terminating the long island chain that juts out from the southeastern corner of Asia. Giving the term Southeast Asia a rather extended meaning, to embrace not only Indonesia and Australia but the South Sea Islands and New Zealand, one may say that Australia's whole future is bound up with the security, the stability and the prosperity of Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia, as thus conceived, has certain characteristics that are common to its many and multifarious communities. With the exception of China, the two British Dominions in the southwest Pacific (Australia and New Zealand), and Thailand, it has hitherto been an area of political dependence upon one or other of the western nations. It is an area of almost chronic poverty, found often in the midst of immense natural resources. It is an area of great strategical importance. In this region, Australia's interests are not different in kind from those of the United States, of Britain, of China, of France, of Holland and of others directly concerned there. The long-term common interest of all is in the conversion of Southeast Asia from discord, backwardness, strategic weakness and international rivalry to economic strength, to prosperity and welfare, and to political stability. For Australia and New Zealand, however, if only because of their geographical situation, this common interest possesses a vital and imperative character that is scarcely the case with most of the other countries concerned.

The proposals put forward by Dr. Evatt on behalf of the Australian Government, from 1942 on, are based on the ideas for the postwar world which found expression in the Atlantic Charter. They are aimed at securing, for "all the men in all the lands," freedom from fear and freedom from want. More concretely, Australia has contended: 1, that it is the duty of all states responsible for the administration of dependent territories to regard themselves as trustees for the inhabitants of the territories, and as such to take active steps to raise their standard of living and generally to promote their economic and social welfare and political development; 2, that states administering dependent territories should hold themselves accountable for the due performance of their trust to an expert international authority with advisory and supervisory powers; 3, that the economic and social welfare of the inhabitants can best be promoted by the coöperation, through regional agencies, of neighboring administrations; 4, that dependent territories must be effectively included within any system of collective security that is established for the area as a whole.

The fact is that the dependent communities of the Pacific area fall into two broadly distinct classes. On the one hand are relatively rich, populous and well-established communities such as Indo-China, Malaya and Indonesia, often with highly organized indigenous cultures; on the other hand are the small, sparsely populated and isolated islands of the South Seas. It is with territories of the latter class that Australia has had most to deal. She tends to look at the problem of dependent territories in terms of her colony of Papua and her Mandated Territory of New Guinea. For such territories as hers, the problem is not how to adjust the requirements of security and of economic development to the demands of colonial nationalism but how to find appropriate means for associating with the administration the more advanced members of really primitive communities. To state the objectives of trusteeship in terms of independence, or even of self-government, would be to use language without any present reality for such peoples. Australia's own immediate territorial problems have thus conditioned the terms in which her general policies have been expressed. It is just as natural for Australia to think of dependent territories in terms of New Guinea rather than of the Philippines as it is for Americans to think of dependent territories in terms of the Philippines rather than of Puerto Rico. Implicitly or explicitly, however, political development, in whatever form may be appropriate to the particular community concerned, always is in fact part of the objective of the colonial trust, as Australians understand it. In the light of these general observations, let us elaborate the four points listed above.


The principle that states responsible for the administration of dependent territories should render to an international authority an account of their stewardship implies that there is a legitimate international interest in the welfare and good government of dependencies. But what is the real nature of this "international interest?" At the unofficial conferences of the Institute of Pacific Relations at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, in December 1942, and at Hot Springs, Virginia, in January 1945, such an interest was vigorously expressed, most clearly by representatives of liberal opinion in the United States. Delegates from the United Kingdom and from the other imperial Powers in the Pacific area were told bluntly that American opinion would not be interested in a postwar international organization which had for one of its main purposes the reëstablishment and preservation of the colonial system. A settled attitude on the part of any powerful state cannot, of course, just be ignored. If the coöperation of that state is desired, the policy of others must to some extent accommodate itself, no matter whether the attitude in question is well or ill-founded. American readers will all the same realize (as certainly the American delegates did at Mont Tremblant) that in the long run the international interest must be identified with more objective and fundamental considerations than merely satisfying the demands of public opinion in any one country.

Analyzed, the international interest in the welfare and good government of dependent territories is seen to be well grounded in at least three considerations. The first is to be found in recent international history. The principle of trusteeship or mandate, expressed a generation ago in the Treaty of Versailles, cannot rationally or even decently be confined to the 14 ex-German and ex-Turkish dependencies to which alone Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant applied. The principle is that a system of accountability to an expert international body is needed for the adequate protection of peoples not able to stand alone in the strenuous conditions of the modern world. Of its nature, this principle applies wherever such peoples are to be found. Speaking of dependent territories which before the war were under the rule of members of the United Nations, Dr. Evatt said at San Francisco: "I see no reason why the progress of these peoples shall be any less a matter of international concern than the progress and welfare of peoples of territories taken from our enemies."

A second consideration pointing in the same direction is to be found in the conditions of international economic welfare. All agree that the world's best hope, perhaps the world's only hope, of those advancing standards of living and that condition of full employment to which the United Nations are committed by the Charter is through the general adoption of policies leading to an expansionist international economy. The world's dependent territories -- and those of Southeast Asia not least among them -- have been called the world's depressed areas. Unless adequate help is provided by the advanced nations for the proper development of these areas, the hope of general economic expansion becomes more remote. Hence the United Nations as a whole are vitally interested in the adoption everywhere of policies directed to raising the standards of living in the dependent territories.

Yet a third consideration pointing in the same direction is to be found in the realm of defense. Under the Charter, the defense against aggression of territories dependent on members of the United Nations becomes the joint and several responsibility of all. Experience under the League of Nations Covenant suggests that this responsibility is not likely to be discharged effectively unless other states are broadly satisfied that the state concerned has administered its dependent territories with reasonable regard for justice and humanity. This is the hard core of reality which justifies the reminder that liberal American opinion is not interested in the preservation of the colonial system as it was. Collective security implies, therefore, the effective association of the international community with the development of the dependent territories.

For all these reasons, the welfare and progress of dependent territories is a matter of legitimate international concern. The next question is how that concern can best be expressed. In conference at Wellington in November 1944, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand agreed upon an answer to this question in a form which they subsequently advocated both in London (at a pre-San Francisco exchange of views among the Governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations) and at the San Francisco Conference itself. The Wellington resolution ran as follows:

Powers responsible for dependent territories should accept the principle of trusteeship, already applicable in the case of mandated territories. In such dependent territories the purpose of the trust is the welfare and advancement of the native peoples. Colonial Powers should undertake to make regular reports to an international body analogous to the Permanent Mandates Commission, set up within the framework of the General Organization. This body should be empowered to publish reports of its deliberations and to inspect dependent territories.

This proposal for a general international body, exercising supervisory functions backed by the sanction of publicity, and enjoying the right (denied to the Permanent Mandates Commission) of visiting the dependent territories themselves, was fully in line with the liberal suggestions that had been discussed at the Institute of Pacific Relations conference in Quebec in 1942. Long before San Francisco, however, there were indications that some at least of the imperial Powers would not welcome proposals on those lines. In January 1945, for example, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley) followed earlier declarations of policy by an address in New York from which many people inferred that, so far from making general the system of accountability established under the League Covenant, the British Government intended to propose its total abolition. For the mandate system, the suggestion seemed to be, there should be substituted regional Councils on the analogy of the Caribbean Commission, representing the govments administering neighboring dependent territories, with the possible addition of other states interested in the region.

A case for such a solution can be put, on both positive and negative grounds. The Permanent Mandates Commission had proved itself effective in the negative task of checking abuses. But it had generally been too aloof, too far removed from the day-to-day problems of colonial administration, to advocate positive means of improvement. What was wanted, it was said, was affirmative continuous collaboration between governments directly interested in the welfare and progress of a particular region. The inclusion of states not themselves administering dependencies would provide something at any rate of "third party interest."

The need for regional councils of collaboration is great. Nevertheless, it can scarcely be doubted that the abandonment of an institution which for twenty years had translated into practical terms the principle that the administration of dependent territories is "a sacred trust of civilization" would have produced a distinctly bad impression in the democratic world. The Permanent Mandates Commission, moreover, had done important work. Perhaps the best of all tributes to the efficacy of the Commission was the anxiety with which representatives of mandatory Powers always approached the discussion of their annual reports by the Commission. A fair judgment on the mandate system is that it did something at least to improve the standards of administration, the welfare of the populations concerned, and the progress of some of the territories toward self-government. On the other hand, even conceding the strength of the case for retaining and extending the mandate system, there would be grave difficulties in subjecting, as the Wellington resolution proposed, the administration of every territory not fully self-governing to the supervisory jurisdiction of a general international authority. Such a proposal is appropriate enough for primitive or undeveloped territories, but it would be certain to cause resentment in communities such as Malta or Ceylon, for instance, with already a substantial degree of political autonomy. This the Australian and New Zealand Governments readily perceived. So much was impliedly conceded in the initial proposals put forward at San Francisco by the Australian delegation, which carried the general support of the New Zealand delegation also.

To try to follow the complex discussions at San Francisco out of which emerged the three chapters of the United Nations Charter that deal with dependent territories would for present purposes be unprofitable. The main outlines will be sufficient, and are reasonably clear. The Dumbarton Oaks text, it will be remembered, did not contain any provisions at all on the subject. At San Francisco, one of the 12 technical committees, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Peter Fraser, was specifically assigned the task of producing a draft for inclusion in the Charter. Commander Harold Stassen, delegate of the United States, tabled a "working paper," to serve as a basis for discussion in this committee. The working paper was drawn from the drafts filed by the delegations of Australia, China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The first part of the working paper contained a draft declaration of principles of general policy, intended to apply to all non-self-governing territories. This eventually became Chapter XI of the Charter. The second part provided for the establishment of an international trusteeship system which would be applicable only to certain classes of non-self-governing territories. This second part is now embodied in Chapters XII and XIII of the Charter. Nobody can hope to assess properly the significance of the Charter, or to gauge accurately its impact on the future of dependent territories, without keeping clearly apart in his mind the general declaration of policy on the one hand and the international trusteeship system, strictly so-called, on the other.

It is a good thing in itself to declare the principle that it is a sacred trust of civilization to promote to the utmost the well-being of the inhabitants of all non-self-governing territories. This is a universalization of the principle which was enunciated, in Article 22 of the League Covenant, with regard to ex-enemy territories only. But declarations of noble intentions too often become purely vapid under the hard test of practical execution. Strenuous and successful efforts were put forth at San Francisco to make a more effective instrument of this general declaration of the principle of trusteeship.

On the one hand, the obligations to be recognized became more specific and detailed; the declaration was made, as lawyers say, to condescend a great deal more upon particulars. The protection of the inhabitants against abuses was mentioned. So was the duty to promote constructive measures of development, and to encourage research. So was the development of self-government and of free political institutions. Every line added to the declaration in this way supplies an added criterion by which the performance of the general obligation can be measured.

On the other hand, provision was made for acquainting the United Nations with the conditions prevailing in all the territories to which the general declaration applies, i.e. all non-self-governing territories everywhere (unless they are included within the international trusteeship system, to which an even more specific obligation attaches). This provision now forms paragraph (e) of Article 73. Members accept the obligation to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible other than those territories to which Chapters XII and XIII apply.

The initiative in both these directions came primarily from the Australian delegation at San Francisco. Australia and New Zealand did not achieve the full objective they had stated in the Wellington resolutions. There is no expert international supervisory agency here, clothed with the right to inspect any dependent territory. Statistics may be used for concealment as well as for disclosure. But the important thing, surely, is that the Charter as it now stands brings within the ambit of the powers of the General Assembly -- to discuss and make recommendations -- the extent to which every member nation is fulfilling its obligations under the Charter toward the inhabitants of its dependent territories. The General Assembly, if it so chooses, can fashion this Chapter XI into something very like a world-wide "mandate system." To be sure, the public discussion of colonial administration will sometimes need delicate handling. Effectively used, however, Chapter XI of the Charter should keep the government of every parent state on its toes.

A week after signing the United Nations Charter, the Australian Government introduced into the House of Representatives at Canberra a bill for the reëstablishment of a provisional civil administration in the greater part of the island territories of Papua-New Guinea. In drafting the bill, the Government naturally had an eye to the obligations it was assuming under the Charter. The provisions for native welfare suggest that the Government is taking seriously its new responsibilities. In the past, the colony of Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea had both been reasonably administered, in a deliberate endeavor to maintain the best traditions of modern British colonial government. They had been kept pretty free of abuses. Australian and American soldiers in these territories had reason to be thankful for the assistance and friendliness they received from the "fuzzy-wuzzies," as the native inhabitants were affectionately called. This in itself is something of a tribute to the success of the former administration. Where it fell short, as indeed colonial administrations did all the world over, was in the positive promotion of native welfare and advancement by the expenditure of public funds from the parent state and by the control of the economic life of the territory in the native interest.

The promise of the Papua-New Guinea Administration Act of 1945 is perhaps not as ambitious as that of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts passed by the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1945. But the Government has given an undertaking which will have a far-reaching effect upon the economic and social development of the territories. It has pledged itself to bring to an end within five years at most the system of indentured labor on which the island economy has hitherto rested. This system was really the only substantial matter which the Permanent Mandates Commission criticized in relation to the territory of New Guinea. The whole Act suggests that the Australian Government is already on its toes, in regard to these territories.


In the proposals of Chapters XII and XIII of the Charter for the establishment of an international trusteeship system, the principle of accountability to an international authority is carried further than in the general declaration in Chapter XI. Further, but not so very much further. The objectives of the system are broadly the same: in particular, the advancement of the inhabitants. The administering state, however, undertakes to make an annual report on the basis of a questionnaire, formulated by a Trusteeship Council, on the political, economic, social and educational development of the trust territories for which it is responsible. The Trusteeship Council is to consist of persons appointed as representative not only of the states which administer trust territories but of an equal number of states which do not. This Council is to be authorized to do something more than merely consider the reports submitted; it will be competent to accept petitions and examine them in consultation with the administering authority, and to provide for periodical visits to the trust territories. The Trusteeship Council will thus have all the powers that the Permanent Mandates Commission possessed, and some that it did not.

Potentially unlimited in its application, this excellent system does not operate automatically, or by virtue merely of the Charter, in respect of any territories at all. It may apply first to territories now held under mandate; secondly, to territories that may be detached from enemy states as a result of World War II; thirdly, to other territories voluntarily placed under it by the administering state. But it does not apply to a single territory in any one of these categories unless an agreement has been made for the purpose. And until such an agreement has been made, all existing rights are expressly preserved. Looked at with the dispassionate eye of political analysis, the new international trusteeship system is, as it were, simply an empty page, which may or may not be written on. These considerations explain why the Australian effort at San Francisco was spent rather in defining and giving greater practical content to the obligations under Chapter XI, which attach universally.

Two features at least of the proposed international trusteeship system are, however, markedly different from those of the mandate system. The first is in the sphere of defense and security, the second in that of trade. In both cases, on a realistic view, the new features may encourage mandatory Powers to bring under the new system the territories they now hold under mandate.

The mandate system rested on the implied assumption that the mandated territories should forever be excluded from the sphere of strategy. The mandatory was forbidden to fortify them or to train the inhabitants militarily except for the defense of the territory. The international trusteeship system rests on exactly the opposite assumption: that each trust territory must be made to play its part in the maintenance of international peace and security. The administering authority is expressly permitted to make use of volunteer forces, facilities (e.g. bases) and other assistance from the territory, not only for local purposes but also as part of the general system of collective security. The military prohibitions in the mandates proved onerous -- in some cases disastrous -- to the mandatory Powers which (unlike Japan) honored their obligations under the Covenant. The terms upon which a mandated territory is brought under the international trusteeship system would naturally include the abandonment of these restrictions. There will thus be one positive inducement toward bringing existing mandated territories under the new system.

The same result may flow from commercial considerations. The mandate system rested on an attempt to eliminate colonial rivalries and promote equal access to raw materials by imposing on the mandatories an obligation to maintain what is generally called the "Open Door." This obligation was clearly imposed in the "B" class mandates. Whether or not it applied in the "C" class mandates has been the subject of an unsettled difference of opinion between the United States and the "C" class mandatories. But the League accepted the contention that a mandatory which was permitted to administer a territory as an integral portion of its own territory was under no such obligation.

Among the objectives of the new international trusteeship system, the Open Door does indeed figure prominently. But it is made subject to two qualifications. One is that "equal treatment in social, economic and commercial matters for all members of the United Nations and their nationals" is to be sought "without prejudice to" the other objectives of the system -- in particular, the maintenance of security and the advancement of the inhabitants of the territories. Secondly, "equal treatment" is made subject to individual trusteeship agreements, and pending those agreements existing rights are maintained. Each parent state, in defining the terms upon which it is willing to place any dependent territory under the trusteeship system, will be able to determine the extent to which it will maintain the Open Door. If its terms are not satisfactory to the Organization, then no agreement will be made, and the territory will not be brought under the system. In the case of a "B" class mandate, however, the mandatory may well wish to bring the territory within the more flexible requirements of the Charter, because unless it does so the terms of the existing instrument will remain.

This flexibility of the Charter in connection with the maintenance of the Open Door does not mean abandonment of the principle that equal access to materials is in itself an important element in friendly international relations, and even in the maintenance of peace. What it does abandon is the idea that it is practicable to isolate dependent territories from the problem of commercial policy in general. What it asserts is to be found in Article 74, as part of the general declarations of Chapter XI:

Members of the United Nations also agree that their policy in respect of the [non-self-governing] territories . . . no less than in respect of their metropolitan areas, must be based on the general principle of good-neighborliness, due account being taken of the interests and well-being of the rest of the world, in social, economic, and commercial matters.

The sound reasons of national advantage for bringing under the international trusteeship system the territories now held under mandate are reinforced by the moral and political objections to any course which would in effect abolish the mandate system when once the League had been wound up. In the case of the other two categories of territories to which the system may be applied, the position is not so clear. Whether or not, therefore, the new system will come to anything more than a continuation (and relaxation) of the existing mandate system will depend on the attitude of the major Powers administering dependent territories. In the Pacific, the conquest of the Japanese islands has plainly brought the United States into this group of Powers.

The discussions at the inaugural meetings of the United Nations have altogether altered the outlook for the international trusteeship system. At the Preparatory Commission in London in November-December 1945, a number of eastern European and Middle Eastern states, following the lead of the Soviet Union, took the initiative in urging a direct and immediate invitation to the mandatory states to bring the trusteeship system into being by placing their territories under it. The mandatory states showed themselves by no means unwilling, in principle, to concur in this proposal. To be sure, the debates in the Preparatory Commission found them often on the defensive. This was partly because, in their view, the case for calling on them to inaugurate the trusteeship system was often put on grounds that were inconsistent with the essentially voluntary character of the system envisaged by the Charter for bringing territories under trusteeship. The plan originally put forward, moreover, involved a rapid timetable for the negotiation and approval of trusteeship agreements which they thought ignored important practical difficulties. They did not want to commit themselves to a plan which they might be unable to carry out. Though they concurred in the substance of the proposal, they therefore felt bound to criticize some of its features and some of the reasons given in support of it.

In the event, the Preparatory Commission unanimously accepted a resolution calling on the mandatory states to undertake practical steps, in concert with the other states directly concerned, for the conclusion of agreements on the terms of trusteeship for each territory to be placed under the trusteeship system. These agreements would then be submitted for approval, preferably not later than during the second part of the First Session of the General Assembly.

Without waiting for the General Assembly to consider this resolution, the mandatory states all made declarations, in the opening debates in January, as to the future of the territories they hold under mandate. The Australian declaration ran as follows:

The Australian Government, mindful of the obligations which the Charter imposes on all members of the United Nations administering non-self-governing territories, and conscious of its responsibilities as a trustee for the peoples of the mandated territories administered by it under the Covenant of the League of Nations, announces its intention of negotiating an appropriate trusteeship agreement with a view to bringing the mandated territory of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system contemplated by Chapters XII and XIII of the United Nations Charter. At the same time, it announces a similar intention in regard to the territory of Nauru. Both the United Kingdom and the New Zealand Governments, with whom Australia shares this mandate, concur in this course of action.

The process of negotiating satisfactory trusteeship agreements may take some little time, particularly where strategic areas have to be designated. In any case, the General Assembly will not be able to consider and approve any draft agreements until its next meetings in September. But the point is that the proceedings at the Preparatory Commission and the General Assembly have transformed the inauguration of the trusteeship system from a possibility into a promise. The necessary practical steps, in some cases at least, are already being taken.


At the first Australian-New Zealand conference at Canberra in January 1944, the two Governments put forward constructive common proposals for the full promotion of the welfare of the inhabitants of the dependent territories in the South Seas. The adoption of positive and liberal policies by each parent state is of course indispensable. But some of the most important administrative problems of contiguous, and even of neighboring, territories overlap governmental boundaries and cannot be solved merely by action in a number of entirely separate units. Problems of health, of communications, of production, of markets, of labor supply, can often be solved only by coöperation across frontiers. The two Dominion Governments therefore proposed the creation of a South Seas Regional Commission, with advisory powers. This Commission would be closely analogous to the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, already in practical operation, but the Australian-New Zealand proposal seems to have been collateral rather than derivative, and to have sprung from close study of the needs of the territories in question.

A regional Council of this kind is plainly adapted for collaboration, not for supervision. Its members would meet as representatives of governments directly interested in the territories concerned. Its function would be to interchange information, promote the pooling of resources, and generally to assist in the formulation and execution of common policies. But it would operate as an auxiliary of the governments concerned; it would be accountable to them, not they to it. One of the by-products of its successful operation would obviously be to raise the standards of the more backward administrations in the group. Indeed, this is one of the main objectives of any such proposal. But it will operate most effectively if it is confined strictly to governments actually responsible for colonial administration in the region concerned.

For similar reasons, a regional Commission such as this would be most effective where the territories concerned are not only neighboring but at roughly comparable stages of social development. They would under such circumstances be likely to provide the maximum range of practical problems in common. The delimitation of the appropriate regions in each case is therefore a matter of some nicety. The governments suggested in the Canberra agreement as members of the South Seas Regional Commission were those of the two proposers (Australia and New Zealand) together with the United States, the United Kingdom and France. (Some misunderstanding was apparently caused in the United States because the agreement said that in addition to Australia and New Zealand there "might be" representatives of the three Great Powers. The subjunctive was clearly intended to express not the mere possibility that they would be invited but the hope that they would accept membership.) The territories in mind were such, for example, as those of the Australian islands, the British colonies of the Solomons, the condominium of the New Hebrides, the French colony of New Caledonia, and Samoa.

Australian ideas would probably run to the establishment of another regional commission in the southwestern Pacific or southeastern Asia area, the scope of which would include at least Indo-China, Malaya, Indonesia and Timor. Territories such as Dutch New Guinea on the west of the proposed South Seas Commission's zone, and the Japanese mandated islands to the east of it, are clearly borderline cases. But membership questions belong to the category of matters of detail rather than principle.

The great practical difficulties confronting every parent state in the Pacific area in the rehabilitation period lying immediately ahead strengthen the case for the early establishment of such regional bodies as the South Seas Commission. The common tasks of the moment would give the Commission an opportunity to establish itself, as the Caribbean Commission has done, by making immediate practical contributions to the rehabilitation of the territories concerned, and to demonstrate the value of international coöperation along these lines in this area. It is to be hoped that early support will come from the United Kingdom and the United States for the establishment of this Commission.

From the Australian emphasis on regional coöperation in administrative matters, it would be altogether wrong to infer any leaning on the part of the Government or the people toward joint or collective administration of dependent territories. Quite the contrary is the case. Australians would not be concerned to deny the possibility, in principle, of joint international administration. But they have had practical experience in the New Hebrides of a condominium with France. The results have not inspired confidence. Effective joint government is not hard to envisage in a purely "police state," in which the functions of government are reduced to the bare minimum for maintaining order. Where, however, the active promotion of welfare and development is required, the necessary authority is hard to achieve except through a national administration. It is true that more effective modes of international government can probably be found than those represented by a condominium, as usually understood. The reported proposal to place the former Italian colonies under the temporary collective administration of the United Nations may have broken new ground in this connection. But the emphasis in Australian discussions of the subject is usually upon the solid advantages of single and undivided national responsibility.


The vital importance, for the defense and security of Australia, of the island chain that links her to Asia and the scattered island groups which dot the sea and airways between her and the United States, scarcely needs exposition. Through the islands comes her danger, in the islands lies her defense. One difficulty that the layman feels in discussing Australian views on the future of the dependent territories from the defense angle is that this is the sphere primarily of the strategist, in which the public is not fully informed, and about which, with a kind of unconscious comprehension, it does not insist on being fully informed. The result is that often even official views lie unexpressed at the root of decisions taken. Another difficulty is peculiar to the present juncture in world affairs. The discovery of the atomic bomb has probably rendered obsolete most of the previously existing plans for security. The proposals for an island defense zone north of Australia and New Zealand put forward so recently as January 1944 in the Australian-New Zealand agreement clearly stand in need of revision, at the least. The agreement envisaged a regional arrangement, to which not only Australia and New Zealand would be parties but also the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Portugal and the Netherlands, for the defense of the island arc stretching from Timor to Samoa. But the strategic frontiers of Australia and New Zealand are further away today. Perhaps, indeed, such things as strategic frontiers no longer exist. Subject to those uncertainties, however, three points may be made.

First, Australia recognizes, without qualification, that security for her must be collective security, in a system in which, at the barest minimum, she acts in concert with the United Kingdom and the United States. That is one of the plainest lessons of World War II. Australia will not forget what the United States did in 1942 in saving her from invasion.

Second, Australia accepts without qualification the thesis explicit in Chapters XII and XIII of the Charter, that the dependent territories of the Pacific must be brought within the security arrangements made under the Charter. She recognizes that the provision made in the Charter in relation to areas designated as "strategic" was devised -- so far as concerns the Pacific -- to enable the Navy of the United States, in particular, to work out a plan which would reconcile the promotion of native welfare on the one hand with the requirements of defense on the other.

Third, Australia feels the anxieties natural to a community numerically small, brought into close proximity with the gigantic military and naval expansion of the United States in the Pacific. It is not that she fears aggression. It is simply that she desires to be dealt with as a free and self-governing country, with a voice in the shaping of her affairs.

This anxiety found expression in some of the rather controversial paragraphs in the "Anzac" agreement of January 1944, e.g. in the assertion of the principle that the construction and use in time of war of military installations in the territory of another Power does not, in itself, afford any basis for territorial claims or rights of sovereignty or control after the cessation of hostilities; in the claim also of a right to a voice in the disposition of any enemy territories in the Pacific, and in any changes in the sovereignty or system of control of the Pacific islands. The same anxiety has been felt from time to time in the face of reported assertions by United States political or military leaders of an intention on the part of the United States to retain bases in the territory of Allied countries after the war. One such reference was made recently to the harbor of Manus in the Admiralty islands, which are part of the Australian mandated territory of New Guinea. The reference was accompanied by the expression of a contemptuous expectation that the Australians would "put up a squawk" about trusteeship.

From the fact that the reputed intentions of the United States Navy have caused misgivings in Australia, it must not for a moment be inferred that Australia would be unwilling to enter into a voluntary agreement for the provision of naval or other facilities for the United States forces in Australian territory. An answer given by the Acting Minister for External Affairs in the House of Representatives to a question about Manus fairly states the Australian view:

The trusteeship provisions of the United Nations Charter specifically preserve all existing rights and interests in the Territories concerned, including Mandated Territories. In those rights, there can be no change to which the responsible power (in this case Australia) does not consent. The security provisions of the United Nations Charter impose the obligation to make available to the Security Council forces and facilities. The precise extent of this obligation is to be defined by the terms of an agreement with the Security Council (Article 43). In reaching decisions on these matters and in any negotiations which may take place concerning bases, the Government will be guided by its experience during the war.

The views discussed in these pages have been chiefly those put forward by the Australian Government, and in particular by the present Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H. V. Evatt. It may fairly be asked what is the background of these views, and how much backing they have in the country.

In part, the policies currently advocated on behalf of Australia in relation to dependent territories undoubtedly stem from the fact that Australia has had a Labor Government since October 1941. Labor thought has not hitherto been deeply affected by the teaching of Marx and Lenin. It has been subject to Fabian influences, no doubt, and its platform, not radically revised now for over a generation, is certainly both egalitarian and critical of imperialism. But an ideological basis is not Labor's strongest characteristic. It is moved more by sentiment than by doctrine, and desire for the improvement of the lot of the underdog is in truth its strongest motive.

Though the views put forward by the Government are of a piece with Labor's general outlook, it would be wrong to infer that they are merely a product of the Labor movement. A government of a more conservative political complexion might have been less positive in several directions. In Parliament and in the press, there was some opposition to and criticism of the stand taken by the Australian delegation at San Francisco on the question of dependent territories. But there was little objection on this head when later the position had been fully explained and the bill for approving the Charter came before Parliament. The fact is that, in large part, the present Government's views are the product not so much of Labor policy as of the times themselves.

The war has given Australia a pretty thorough shake-up. The conquest by the Japanese of the colonial empires in Southeast Asia of Britain, France and the Netherlands, and the apparent complaisance of the Asiatic inhabitants under the invader, not only underlined the part played by the near north in Australian security but threw a searchlight on colonial administration in the Pacific generally. Realization has spread that positive programs of a new kind will be required if economic and political stability -- the essential for security -- is to be maintained in the Pacific area. The New Guinea campaigns spread a new knowledge of, and an utterly new and vivid interest in, Australia's own island empire. Perhaps Australians are developing an uneasy conscience, too, about the aboriginal population on the mainland, and about some of the awkward angles of their immigration policy. There is certainly a fresh realization of the importance of coöperation within the British Commonwealth on matters that previously Australia had tended to think of as being exclusively Britain's concern. In all these ways, the war has created both the need and the readiness for a more vital national concern in the problems of security, welfare and good government raised by the dependent territories of the Pacific area. From this point of view, the Government may be thought of as rather expressing than creating a new public opinion.

Probably the truth is that, while the basis of an altogether new and effective public interest is there, the Labor Government is a long way in the lead in this matter of dependent territories. There are personal factors too. Much of the present Government's policy is the creation of a single Minister -- Dr. Evatt himself. How much one man of powerful mind and intense energy can do, with effective backing, even in a few years, to modify a people's outlook on policy is very well understood in the United States. Under Dr. Evatt's stimulus, Australia as a nation, in this matter of dependent territories as in other international matters too, has been helping to give a lead, not merely following a lead given by others. The lead given is in some respects controversial, and has aroused some dissent at home. But probably a large majority of the Australian people would endorse the policies for which the Government stood at San Francisco. An important task now is so to build on the foundation of aroused public concern, already laid by the events of the war, that what is permanent in the policies of the present Australian Government may find permanent expression also in the political thought of the whole Australian people.

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  • K. H. BAILEY, Professor of Public Law in the University of Melbourne; adviser to the Australian Delegation at San Francisco and alternate delegate at the Preparatory Commission and the General Assembly of UNO in London
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