Volume #26 - 143.|
RELATIONS AVEC LE COMMONWEALTH
L'ambassadeur en République fédérale d'Allemagne|
au secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 7 octobre 1959|
Dear Mr. Green,
You were good enough to ask me when I was in Ottawa to give you my ideas on what Canada might do to strengthen NATO. This has encouraged me to send you the enclosed memorandum on what Canada might do to strengthen the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth could, I am convinced, play in the next decade or two a role more important than it has ever played before but in order to play that role it requires strong imaginative leadership.
The Canadian Prime Ministers of the first forty years of this century are rightly given much of the credit for creating the kind of Commonwealth which it was possible for an independent India, Pakistan and Ceylon to join. There is an opportunity now for Mr. Diefenbaker to take the lead in creating a new kind of Commonwealth. This new Commonwealth could have stronger links between its members than the Commonwealth of the forties and fifties. It could have more common institutions. It could cooperate more closely on more common tasks. Such a Commonwealth could make a great contribution to the peace, freedom and prosperity of the world.
I have tried in the programme set forth in my memorandum to translate into specific policies and proposals many of the general principles which Mr. Diefenbaker has long advocated such as the strengthening of the Commonwealth and of the rule of law, the abolition of racial discriminations, and greater economic assistance to under-developed countries.
Previous prime ministers of Canada have not found it possible to put forward a programme of the kind I have outlined. Up to the end of the war they were inhibited by a fear that this kind of development might diminish Canada's independence as a nation. In a world which is dominated by two super-powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, this consideration has little relevance.
I hope that you may find that some of the ideas in my memorandum are helpful.
I look forward to seeing you in Paris. I appreciate greatly the time you gave to talking to me when I was in Ottawa last month.
With kindest regards,
[Bonn], October 7, 1959
CANADA AND THE STRENGTHENING OF THE NEW COMMONWEALTH
1. The new Commonwealth is predominantly Asian and African, predominantly coloured, pre-dominantly under-developed and poverty-stricken. By 1960 it will consist of four white nations with a total population of about 85 millions, seven coloured nations with a total population of about 570 millions, and one nation (South Africa) where twelve million coloured people are ruled by three million whites. (The United Kingdom (52 m.), Canada (18 m.), Australia (10 m.) and New Zealand (2.5 m.). India (425 m.), Pakistan (85 m.), Nigeria (37 m.), Ceylon (10 m.), Malaya (7 m.), Ghana (5 m.) and West Indies (3.5 m.).
2. It is today more important than ever before that the Commonwealth be bound together by strong links for a strongly united Commonwealth can be a firm bridge between the democracies of the West and the newer democracies of Asia and Africa. Moreover the strengthening of the links between the members of the Commonwealth will tend to counterbalance, at least to some degree, the overwhelming weight of the United States within the Free World.
3. The task of strengthening the links between the members of the Commonwealth is one of great difficulty and delicacy. There are many obstacles to be avoided. Thus there must be no impression given that the four white members consider themselves superior to the coloured members or that they belong to an inner group in the Commonwealth. The newer members are touchy about their newly acquired independence. They must be persuaded that a stronger Commonwealth does not diminish their independence; that instead it adds to their influence.
4. Moreover the Commonwealth cannot be strong if its members are weak. If the under-developed nations of the Commonwealth are to be strong members of a strong Commonwealth they must receive a good deal more economic and technical assistance than they are receiving today.
5. This memorandum puts forward a nine-point programme for strengthening the Commonwealth.
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I. Commonwealth Consultation
6. The one essential requirement of greater Commonwealth unity is greater Commonwealth consultation, and greater exchange of information among Commonwealth countries. The motto of the new Commonwealth must be "Consult, consult, consult." This is a principle which members of the Commonwealth readily affirm but the reality of the consultation which in fact takes place among the members of the Commonwealth is often remote from the ideal.
7. Canada might therefore propose that Commonwealth ministerial meetings be held more frequently. The Commonwealth prime ministers might meet regularly once a year. The Commonwealth foreign ministers might also meet once a year. The regular annual meetings of the Commonwealth finance ministers would continue and there might be meetings every two or three years of some of the other ministers. A common Commonwealth secretariat might be established for the organization and preparation of the regular ministerial meetings. In each Commonwealth capital there might be fortnightly meetings of the Commonwealth high commissioners with the Minister for External Affairs and some of his senior officials. In each foreign capital there might be fortnightly meetings of the ambassadors from the Common-wealth countries. The daily meetings of the heads of the Commonwealth delegations held during the U.N. General Assembly should be so organized as to be effective. In the govern-ments of the larger Commonwealth countries there might be a special junior minister of Com-monwealth relations who would be the second-in-command of the Foreign Office.
II. The English Language within the Commonwealth
8. The English language is one of the strongest links in holding the new Commonwealth together. One of the effects of self-government, certainly in the Asian members of the Com-monwealth and particularly in India, is a serious weakening of the position of English.
9. Unless present trends are reversed in India, for example, many members of the governing classes in India will, twenty years or so from now, no longer be fluent in English. Leaders of India such as Mr. Nehru recognize how disastrous this will be to India since it will weaken the links between the governing classes in the various regions of India and will make it much more difficult for Indian engineers, managers, and scientists to keep up with advances in the rest of the world. But out of its own resources India will find it difficult to maintain and strengthen the position in India of the English language. A great and sustained effort is required to help India to improve the teaching of English in the secondary schools of India. Thus it would probably be necessary to set up in India a series of institutes for training Indian secondary school teachers to teach English by modern methods of language instruction. It would be necessary to train the teachers who would teach at these institutes. The British Council has been doing good work in this field but its resources are meagre compared with the vastness and the urgency of the task.
10. Perhaps Canada could propose that the white Commonwealth countries embark on a programme to assist India and the other new Commonwealth members in Asia and Africa to preserve and extend the knowledge of English in their countries. Such a programme to be effective could cost up to $5 to $10 million a year of which an appropriate Canadian share might be about thirty percent. This could be paid out of the Colombo Plan vote.
III. Commonwealth Language Institute
11. This proposal on the teaching of English might be complemented by a proposal for the establishment of a Commonwealth Language Institute which would stimulate and facilitate the study of all the main languages of the Commonwealth. Its headquarters might be established in Ottawa. The Canadian Government might offer a suitable site and a substantial contribution towards the building. Satellite schools could be established in other Commonwealth countries.
12. At the Commonwealth Language Institute and its branches persons going out to Commonwealth countries as government officials, diplomats, businessmen, educationalists, missionaries, or on a technical assistance mission, could be given training by the most modern methods of language instruction in whatever language they will need in the country they are going to, whether it is Urdu for West Pakistan, Bengali for East Pakistan, or Hindi for Northern India. Similar persons who come to Canada with insufficient knowledge of English or French could be given courses.
13. The Institute might also do studies on how to improve existing methods of language instruction. Such studies would be helpful to countries like India which are trying to spread knowledge of a national language over the whole country.
14. Part of the expenses of the Institute would be met out of tuition fees. The other expenses could be covered by contributions from all the participating Commonwealth governments. The Canadian contributions might come out of the Colombo Plan vote.
IV. Appreciation in the West of Asian Cultures
15. Two of the basic reasons for tension between the Asian democratic countries and the Western democratic countries are the persistence of racial discriminations in the West and the lack of appreciation by the West of the ancient cultures of Asia. The free countries of Asia, and especially the Commonwealth countries in Asia, would be touched and impressed if the Prime Minister of Canada were to urge the necessity of the white Commonwealth countries learning more about the rich and varied cultures of the Commonwealth countries of Asia. The amount of money which could profitably be spent on this by the white Commonwealth countries, in addition to what is now being spent by UNESCO, might perhaps be half a million dollars to a million dollars a year of which the Canadian share might be $150,000 to $300,000.
16. This proposal to strengthen the cultural links between Commonwealth countries might be linked with the proposal for a Commonwealth Language Institute since the Institute in its research in languages would inevitably be involved in a study and appreciation of the cultures and customs reflected in those languages.
V. Racial Discriminations
17. The Prime Minister, because of his hatred of racial discriminations and his belief in the necessity of defending and extending human rights and fundamental freedoms, might propose to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand that the four white Commonwealth countries take a lead in urging that the Western world move with all deliberate speed to the abolition of all remaining racial discriminations. This would increase the strain between the white Commonwealth countries and the majority of the three million whites in South Africa but it would improve relations with the 580 million coloured citizens of the Commonwealth. For Canada to take a lead would involve it in a risk that opponents would say that we should end the racial discriminations in our immigration laws and practices. We would however be on sound ground in replying that the essential problem now before the world is that of removing discriminations on grounds of race among those who inhabit a certain country and that in Canada there are on the statute books of the federal and provincial governments no laws discriminating on grounds of race between inhabitants of Canada.
VI. Assistance to Under-developed Countries
18. It is appropriate for the United States to take the lead in urging that more capital assistance be given to under-developed countries to speed up their economic development since the United States is so much the largest potential contributor. Canada might however take the lead in urging that the white members of the Commonwealth and other Western countries give assistance to the under-developed countries in ways other than increased capital assistance and increased technical assistance.
19. The slogan might be "Aid by Trade." Here the central problem would be to secure the support of the more developed industrial nations for a policy of lowering their barriers to the import of the low cost simple manufactured products of the underdeveloped countries. This would require some painful readjustments and structural changes in the economies of the more advanced countries. Thus structural changes in the cotton textile industries of the Western countries would be necessary if Western textile industries were no longer to attempt to compete with the textile industries of India and Japan in producing the cheaper qualities.
20. Western countries, like Germany, which maintain extremely high taxes on tea and coffee, might reduce these taxes in order to increase consumption.
21. International commodity stabilization schemes might be introduced in order to mitigate the wide fluctuations in the prices of the principal staple exports of the under-developed countries. During the recent slump in raw material prices some under-developed countries have found that the aid which they were receiving from Western countries was a good deal less than the drop in their foreign exchange earnings resulting from the fall in the prices of their staple exports.
VII. International Organizations
22. The resources available to the International Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been increased lately partly as a result of the initiative of Canada and other members of the Commonwealth. Perhaps the Commonwealth could take the lead in other agencies of the U.N. in an effort to make them likewise more effective instruments of the world community, especially in helping the Asian and African members of the Commonwealth and other under-developed countries. What is required is first of all a re-examination of the work and objectives of each of the agencies in the light of the experience of the ten years or more since it was founded. The members of the Commonwealth might cooperate in making such a re-examina-tion. The re-examination might indicate that amendments to the international agreements establishing the agencies were required and that increases in the budgets of the agencies in order to accomplish specific programmes of special value to the under-developed countries would be justified. Canadian support for such increases could be accompanied by renewed Canadian insistence on increasing the efficiency of the organizations and eliminating waste. The organizations concerned are the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization. If it were found necessary to increase the budget of each of these by twenty percent the cost to Canada would be about $225,000 a year.
VIII. International Court of Justice
23. The Prime Minister might become the leading advocate in the Western world of the strengthening of the International Court of Justice. This means the acceptance by all nations of the jurisdiction of the Court in all justifiable disputes. It means strengthening the membership of the Court. Some of the present members of the Court are unfortunately not first rate.
24. Pending amendments to the U.N. Charter and the Statute of the Court making the Court's jurisdiction compulsory three forward steps could be taken. The Prime Minister might propose that all the members of the Commonwealth accept without reservation the jurisdiction of the Court in all justiciable disputes with each other. He might propose an amendment to the North Atlantic Treaty under which the members of NATO would likewise agree to accept without reservation the jurisdiction of the Court in all justifiable disputes with each other. (We and the French were prepared to accept such a provision when the North Atlantic Treaty was being drafted). Finally Canada could propose a resolution in the United Nations urging that all future international treaties and agreements whether bilateral or multilateral should contain a provi-sion that if a dispute between the parties on the interpretation of the agreement could not be settled by other means any party to the agreement could bring the issue before the International Court and that the decision of the Court would be final and binding.
IX. Commonwealth Airlines
25. The formation of Air Union in Western Europe composed of the airline companies of France, Germany, Italy and Belgium indicates that it may become increasingly difficult for national airline companies other than those of the United States and the Soviet Union to exist as independent companies in the field of international air transport. Perhaps the best solution for Canada would be to pool its international air services (other than those across the border to the United States) with the air services of the other Commonwealth countries - BOAC, BEA, Air India, Air Pakistan, QANTAS, etc. The resulting company might be called "Commonwealth Airlines" or "Air Commonwealth." The aircraft of this company flying the flag of "Air Commonwealth" would be a symbol of Commonwealth unity throughout the world.
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26. How a programme to strengthen the Commonwealth could best be put forward by Canada to other Commonwealth Governments requires most careful examination. Perhaps the first step, after the Canadian Government had decided on the scope and nature of the initiatives it wished to take, would be to discuss the matter very discreetly with the United Kingdom Government. After their views had been taken into account similar discreet bilateral conversa-tions might take place with the Indian and Pakistan Governments, and with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand. The programme as revised in the light of these informal soundings might then be put in the hands of all the Commonwealth Governments as a set of confidential working papers to be discussed first at meetings of officials and then at a formal Common-wealth Conference. What is essential is that the programme which finally emerges should be a Commonwealth programme which all the member nations of the Commonwealth feel they have had a part in framing.