Volume #15 - 209.|
ISSUES BEFORE THE UNITED NATIONS
REFUGEES AND STATELESS PERSONS
Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Permanent Delegation to United Nations
November 4th, 1949|
Your despatch No. 22, October 29th-Refugees and Stateless Persons.
1. We have studied the two documents enclosed with your despatch and after consultation with the other interested Departments, we would make the following comments:
(a) The extent to which the U.N. should provide legal protection for refugees and stateless persons.
2. It is our opinion that the I.R.O. and the organization which succeeds it should extend whatever legal protection is required by refugees and persons who are de jure stateless. This generalization would not apply of course to war criminals or other persons who for similar reasons were left outside the I.R.O. mandate. It should, however, apply to refugees who are in that position for purely technical or national reasons even though they are outside the I.R.O. mandate.
3. It seems to us that the more that is done by the U.N. to protect the interests of stateless persons and other refugees, the more likely these people are to find satisfactory havens and the more willing they may be to accept permanent residence in the countries where they are now living. It is to Canada's interest that these persons should become permanently domiciled as quickly as possible and legal protection by the U.N. would be a contribution to that end.
4. The extent of material assistance which should be given by the U.N. is difficult to assess at this time but we think it important that the terms of reference of the High Commissioner's duties should be broad enough to allow consideration of any problem affecting refugees:
(b) The arrangements which should be made to handle the continuing problems of refugees following the termination of the I.R.O.
5. As explained in the Commentary article on the I.R.O.. our main concern is that an efficient organization should be established and that its maintenance should be a charge on the regular U.N. budget. The Secretary-General's recommendation for the appointment of a High Commissioner who would report to the General Assembly through ECOSOC and who would comply with directives received from the Assembly and the Council, seems to us to meet our position and we see no objection to supporting it unless, during the course of the debate, serious weaknesses in the scheme which are not at present apparent are revealed. The prominent stature of the High Commissioner would be a constant invitation to the Assembly and ECOSOC to examine and criticize his activities whereas the same sort of work handled by a section of the Secretariat would be less likely to impose itself upon their attention. Moreover, it would be relatively simple at any time to terminate the High Commissioner's responsibilities and incorporate any continuing elements of the problem into the Secretariat of the U.N. should this prove feasible or desirable at some future date. It should be envisaged that, as the proportions of the problem are reduced, a comparable reduction should take place in the number of the employees of the U.N, assigned to handle it. The appointment of a High Commissioner might well facilitate the efficient and economic handling of the problem.
(c) Intergovernmental cottunittee.
6. Paragraphs 56 and 57 of the Secretary-General's report envisage the establishment of an Intergovernmental Consultative Committee to advise ECOSOC on any aspect of the U.N. work for refugees. While we understand that the object of setting up such a committee would be to include in it countries such as Switzerland and Italy who are not members of the U.N. and while we recognize the interest of these countries in the refugee problem and the desirability of bringing them into association with the refugee work, it seems to us that the advantages to be gained are outweighed by the disadvantages of adding still another to the already alarming number of international bodies. We would think that the attendance of representatives of these countries with observer status, to sessions of ECOSOC, would provide ample opportunity for consultation and that the Intergovernmental Committee would serve no purpose useful enough to justify its establishment.
(d) Budgetary Implications.
7. Finance requests that Pollock examine this aspect carefully before Delegation approves plan.