Volume #17 - 297.|
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND CONFERENCES
UNITED NATIONS SPECIALIZED AGENCIES
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION
Embassy in Italy|
to Head, Economic Division
December 11th, 1951|
Dear Wynne [Plumptre],
Thank you for your note. I too am sorry we did not meet in Rome. I tried to phone you a couple of times but "Plumptre" proved too large and unfamiliar a mouthful for the operator and as I knew you were very much preoccupied with NATO problems and people I did not wait at your doorstep.
My stay in Rome has, I think, been quite useful. The items I had to look after on the agenda concerning constitutional and legal matters were not overly important, but I have had a chance to look over the organization here and reform or reaffirm my opinions about it and the Canadian interest in it.
About the usefulness of the FAO in general there can be no doubt at all. The need for it is obvious and I am convinced that it is doing really important practical work in a large number of countries. I am equally certain that the efficiency or usefulness of the work is not uniform but a sure indication of its value is the keen interest which delegations of underdeveloped countries are showing in the activities of the Organization and their desire to become members of the Council. The significant fact is that countries for whom something of real practical importance has already been done are the most interested. I am attaching a copy of "The Work of FAO 195051" The Director General's Report. fi This year the report is exceptionally good and gives a fairly broad but specific description of the work of the Organization. I think it should be distributed as widely as possible.
On the negative side I should mention the Organization's long and inefficient Administrative Tail. It is reported to be slightly better than some of the other Agencies, but it is certainly using funds which could better be employed in the technical divisions. Likewise in talking to the Personnel of the Secretariat I was very much impressed (particularly but not entirely in the lower grades) with their preoccupation with their salaries and allowances which are much above the Roman Standard. Many of them have no sympathy with or feeling for the people they are devoting their lives to help. As a general principle I think this is bad and shows a lack on somebody's part in the Organization.
It is of course impossible for me to judge how much money is wasted by the Organization. In the Budget Connnittee, Alan Hockin did very good work in systematically questioning large and small items (and I must admit the representative of the D.G. had good answers at his finger tips). I suspect however that there is a good deal of water and waste in many of the figures.
Out of all this comes the general impression of an organization which, after five years of gestation, is on the point of doing increasingly useful work on a relatively small Budget ($5,250,000). Its senior officials seem relatively competent and its general administration not much worse than might be expected and better than some similar Organizations.
The FAO Conference normally functions in three Comnussions. The first considers the world outlook for Agriculture, etc. and points tip general programs; the second, composed of technical people, studies the individual projects in the program of work for the next two years; the third discusses the Budget and other financial, legal and constitutional issues.
I have given a good deal of thought to the size and composition of our delegation, and this of course raises the question of the Government's interest in the Organization. Canada receives practically no material services from FAO except the usual statistical information. Consequently we have little to gain materially from our contribution or from large representation at Conferences. On the other hand, I cannot express too strongly the feeling of good will for Canada that is felt by all delegations and, I think, the Secretariat. This is due very largely to Dr. Barton and of course in the past to Mr. Pearson. Dr. Barton is extremely well liked and his judgment is highly valued. It is certain that his retirement will leave a very noticeable gap in the Council and Conference and an even greater one on the Canadian Delegation. In addition Alan Hockin has done an exceptionally able and respected job in the Budget Committee and in Commission III and is one of the outstanding representatives on those bodies. A recognition of this is his appointment by the Council to the FAO Committee on Financial Control. Also Dr. Pett has taken a very useful and active part in the Nutrition Panel. In addition we have provided some very good people to the Secretariat, i.e. Dr. Finn and Dr. Archibald.
This element of good will and respect for Canada is well worth maintaining, and in my opinion the only way to maintain it is to send first rate delegates to FAO meetings. This brings up the question of the size of the Delegation to the Conference. As a general principle in view of the foregoing my opinion is that the size of the delegation should be directly proportional to its quality. If first class people are available and can be spared, then it is certainly worth sending a large delegation. If some of our good representatives are well known and their ability appreciated in FAO, then they are certain to have extra duties given to them. If our broad interests in the objectives of FAO are accepted I think it is well worth the expense involved to send such people to Rome every two years. On the other hand if mediocre people are sent people who take little or ineffective part in the debates and who make no great effort to appreciate the problems of the Organization and who do not make a point of getting to know the secretariat, then it is really not worth sending them.
The minimum requirement for full representation is as follows:
This gives a total of eight, of which four are really needed only in the second week when the Panels are sitting. In addition it is useful to have a secretary but it is not important to have a stenographer as services can always be had from the Secretariat or from the Embassy, and indeed they are not required in quantity. The secretary should be able to take some part in the meetings and might be a junior in training for FAO work.
The problem of sending a delegation to a Conference will not arise again until November 1953, but at the moment it is difficult to think of an adequate replacement for Dr. Barton. I do not think either Hudson or Trueman will ever be capable of filling his shoes, but there does not seem to be anyone else on the horizon in the Department of Agriculture at present.
The more urgent question is who will represent us on the Council? I do not think either Hudson or Trueman will be able to make much of a contribution but I have heard no other names mentioned. Dr. Barton will probably speak to you about this when he gets back.
I might say a word or two about the Organization for the Conference. As you may know this is the first year that there has been any attempt at coordinating and approving instructions and, even so, the task was done inadequately. For example, the Department of Fisheries, which did not send a representative to the Delegation, sent only a paragraph of instructions and Shirley MacDonald, who represented us on the Fisheries Panel, was consequently able to make a less valuable contribution than he might otherwise have done. I have suggested, and Dr. Barton agreed, that a report should be prepared on the Conference and he instructed all delegates to prepare short reports on the parts of the agenda with which they were concerned. Unfortunately all except Dr. Pett have left the Conference without providing the Secretary with these reports but they may be forthcoming in Ottawa. (I have sent you a number of despatches on the Legal and Constitutional issues and Dr. Barton has copies of these). You may wish to have someone follow this up in order to establish the precedent.
I am convinced that the lack of Reports in the past, while annoying, has not affected our representation because of the abilities of Dr. Barton and Alan Hockin. In future, however, I think we should keep a much closer watch on FAO matters.
I have had several talks with Dr. Barton and Claude Hudson about the FAO committee in Ottawa and, I think, have impressed them with the desirability of keeping closer contact with External Affairs and of organizing and administering the committee more efficiently. Unfortunately however I am afraid they lack a feeling for the separation of tasks and the administrative responsibilities of their Department. I have made them well aware of our difficulties: staffing, etc. But I wonder whether it would not be possible for the Head of the U.N. Division or some senior person to made a point of seeing Hudson, or whoever is chairman of the FAO Committee, before Council meetings (or better still every few months) and take a closer interest in what he is doing.
Another point. Dr. Barton has told me that he has had some useful talks on technical assistance with the Indians and other delegations from underdeveloped areas. I suggested that our UNTA people would be very interested to talk to him about it. Perhaps you might like to suggest that they call him, when he gets back to Ottawa. I was surprised to hear that Mr. Cavell had not seen him.
I am sorry this has been such a long letter, but I hope some of it may be useful to you as a personal impression. Please remember me kindly to Beryl and all in the Division. Best wishes for a good Christmas Season.
P.S. Thank you also for your messages from Paris and Cambridge.11 I should like to go to C. and will certainly look him up.
P.P.S. I have told Dr. Barton about this letter and about my impressions of most of the subjects I have mentioned.
11 Non retrouves./Not located.