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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2562

Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   Did Australia. Belgium, Canada, Italy and Japan move in the United Nations for (a) reaffirmation of the principle that States shall refrain from use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State (b) the fullest possible use by parties to a legal dispute of (i) the World Court, (ii) the good offices of tbe Secretary-General, (iii) improved methods of fact-finding and conciliation, (iv) Security Council subsidiary organs for settling specific disputes and restraining the flow or arms towards tension areas, (c) equitably financed peace-keeping procedures and (d) total disarmament.

(2)   Is there a legal dispute between parties to the Indo-China war including Australia.

(3)   What steps has Australia taken in regard to this war in conformity with each of the specified relevant parts of the resolution.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Broadly speaking. Yes; but the resolution on the Strengthening of International Security eventually adopted by the General Assembly in December 1970 was considerably different in its terms from the draft, originally co-sponsored by Australia and others, to which the Honourable Member refers.

(2)   In its essence, the war in Indo-China is a classic case of individual and collective self-defence against aggression of North Vietnam. Different views about the applicable principles of international law are held by different parties to the conflict. But it would be wrong either to describe the war in Indo-China as a 'legal dispute' or to suppose that the war could be brought to an end by promoting an external decision on the legal issues that have been raised.

(3)   The Australian Government has long maintained the view that peace cannot be restored in Indo-China except through a negotiated political settlement. Consistently with this view Australia has supported moves to bring the matter before the United Nations, which, however, were successfully opposed by the Soviet Union and other supporters of North Viet-Nam. For the same reason Australia has also supported the arrangements for talks in Paris. These talks have been referred to frequently by the communist side as a proper and adequate channel for negotiations; unfortunately the position of the communist side has been such as to prevent meaningful progress being achieved.

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