Volume #22 - 374.|
UNITED NATIONS AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
TWENTY-THIRD SESSION, NEW YORK, APRIL 16-MAY 10, 1957
Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Chairman, Delegation to United Nations General Assembly
CONFIDENTIAL. CANADIAN EYES ONLY. IMPORTANT.
March 25th, 1957|
By Bag Mexico from Washington and Rio, Hague, Djakarta, Karachi, Belgrade, Permis Geneva from London.
23RD SESSION OF ECOSOC
At a recent interdepartmental meeting, held to review Canadian attitude on UN economic and social programmes, serious concern was expressed over the widening rift in ECOSOC between the industrialized and under-developed countries, particularly on the controversial issues of capital aid and commodity problems. It was agreed that preconference consultations with certain members of ECOSOC, including our Commonwealth and NATO partners, and such under-developed countries as Yugoslavia, Indonesia and some Latin American countries might help to give us a better understanding of the various conflicting positions at ECOSOC and perhaps pave the way for more reasonable and less doctrinaire and rigid attitudes on either side.
2. Canada is not in a position, particularly in this pre-electoral period, to undertake new major initiatives nor does the agenda of the forthcoming session include many concrete topics of discussion, except perhaps for the secretariat's programme on industrialization.
3. There might be some advantage, however, even at this late date, in reviewing the situation with appropriate officials, in Washington, London and Paris as well as with friendly UN missions of member countries of ECOSOC in New York, to ascertain whether our concern over ECOSOC is shared by other representative countries. I should therefore be grateful if you would seize an early opportunity to raise the matter with your colleagues in other friendly delegations, using the following notes as a basis for discussion.
4. Present position in ECOSOC. It is natural that divisions and divergences of opinions and approach should exist on questions which affect the economies of both exporting and importing countries, either of capital or of primary products. There is a growing danger, however, that the Soviet member countries, led by the USSR, may be successful in exploiting for their own ends these differences and the divisions they engender. In recent years, Soviet countries have been participating more actively in ECOSOC discussions, and although their delegations have not been too troublesome, their efforts are obviously designed to gain credit as champions of underdeveloped countries, particularly in the fields of industrial development and international trade. If the present situation is allowed to develop unchecked, the West is in danger of losing much of its influence in ECOSOC, which is the main forum - an important one in the context of the UN - in which the less developed and industrialized countries meet.
5. During its present term on ECOSOC, and particularly at the last two sessions of the Council in 1956, Canada has found it necessary to play the role of mediator on a number of issues and our delegations have on several occasions been able to reconcile divergences of view between the "have" and "have not" countries. Something more is needed, however, to restore Western influence in the Council.
6. Our delegation to the 22nd Session of ECOSOC deprecated the lack of "ideas" and leadership on the part of the USA and UK and suggested that they did not perhaps regard ECOSOC as providing opportunities for participation in developing UN programmes in the economic and social fields. The French delegation played a more active part, but some of the initiatives it took seemed to be primarily directed towards asserting the position of France as one of the Great Powers and on occasion caused embarrassment to its Western colleagues by acting without consulting them.
7. In the present international context, the main responsibility for maintaining Western influence in ECOSOC would appear to rest upon the USA, because of the latter's resources and position. The intervention of the UK and France in Egypt and the economic stresses which have resulted from it for the time being have probably limited the ability of these two countries to play leading roles at ECOSOC, although their experience and prestige remain valuable assets. In general the contribution of Canada and other NATO countries is likely to be most effective if it can be made in support of that of the major Western Powers, particularly the USA.
8. What is required to redress the situation in ECOSOC is perhaps not so much ambitious new programmes or initiatives as greater understanding and sympathy for the aspirations of the less developed countries (particularly on the part of the USA and the UK). The immediate need is for a change of attitude rather than for greater financial contributions, and for the Western countries to co-ordinate their effort at ECOSOC and develop, mutatis mutandis, a more forthcoming approach to the problems of the less advanced countries. While we recognize the importance of co-ordination and economy at ECOSOC (and in the specialized agencies as well) some of the Western countries may have been too prone to consider the Council as "a body which must be prevented from doing any damage and incurring more expense than absolutely necessary". Between negative cautiousness and the other extreme of unchecked liberality there should be room for a more reasonable position. For instance, it should be possible for Western countries on occasions to support certain marginal projects proposed by under-developed countries which while not conforming with stricter Western standards of practicability and efficiency may reap wider economic and political benefits.
9. You will be in a better position to decide to what extent you can use the above remarks in your consultations. The primary purpose of consultations in Washington, London and Paris is to propose mutual consideration of steps we might take to improve the situation in ECOSOC. With respect to other members of ECOSOC with which consultations will be undertaken in New York we are interested in letting them know that we take their views seriously, wish to take them into account in formulating our own views and would like to find out what items are of particular concern to them and the reasons for their interest. We are particularly interested in the views of under-developed countries on such problems as industrialization, land reform and co-operatives: items which are included in the agenda.
10. You should not raise on your own the question of SUNFED. It is under discussion in an Ad Hoc Committee of the UN. If others raise it, you should refer them to our reply to the questionnaire78 where the government's position is clearly stated. We are not in a position to take any steps ourselves at the present time to encourage the establishment of SUNFED, nor to encourage other countries to support proposals for its establishment. We shall, however, play as constructive and useful a role as we consider realistic in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee.
11. Consultations with USA, UK and France will be undertaken by our missions there. I should be grateful if at your discretion you would consult along above lines representatives of such other member countries of ECOSOC as Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Yugoslavia.