The 24th Session of the Economic and Social Council is meeting in Geneva from July 2 to
August 2. Canada is at present serving a three-year term of office on the Council, which is
composed of 18 members of the United Nations. The function of the Council is to review and
coordinate the economic and social policies of the United Nations.
- The Canadian Delegation is as follows:
Dr. R.A. MacKay,
Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, New York
Mr. Wershof, Permanent Representative of Canada
to the European Office of the United Nations
Dr. G.F. Davidson, Deputy Minister of Welfare,
Department of National Health and Welfare
Dr. O.J. Firestone,
Department of Trade and Commerce
Mr. S. Pollock,
Department of Finance.
The items to be considered at this session are, in general, issues which have already been
discussed and social policies, and the debate is more in the nature of a review of attitudes than
the taking of decisions. As it has not yet been possible for Cabinet to review all these questions,
the Canadian Delegation has been instructed to avoid commitments and to conduct its
intervention along the lines of generally acceptable Canadian positions. If issues arise on which a
Government decision is required, these will be referred to Cabinet. Subjects discussed in the
Economic and Social Council are referred to the General Assembly, which meets in the autumn,
and it is in this body that Canadian policies may be
Among the principal items under consideration is a review of development and co-ordination
of all the programmes and activities of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies. This
review is undertaken annually to achieve the most effective utilization of the resources and
expertise available to the Organization. The Council will consider the reports of four of its
functional commissions the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of
Women (to which Canada has been elected, term of office to commence next year), the
Commission on Narcotic Drugs (of which Canada is a permanent member), and the Social
Commission. In connexion with the latter the Council will have before it a report on the world
social situation on which a wide-ranging discussion is expected but on which the delegations
will not be expected to take positions involving policy decisions.
The Council will also consider the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees. There are two main issues: the possible extension in time of the High
Commissioner's mandate and his shortage of funds. The Delegation has been instructed not to
commit Canada to any further expenditures until the question of refugees can be considered by
Among the economic items on the agenda there are two which may give rise to controversy.
One of these involves a long-standing proposal to establish a Special United Nations Fund for
Economic Development (SUNFED), to which member countries would contribute funds (a total
amount of $600 million has been suggested) for the financing of basic development projects in
under-developed countries.25 This proposal, which has been debated and examined many times
in United Nations forums, is supported by most of the under-developed countries and some
advanced countries such as the Netherlands. The United States and United Kingdom have led
the opposition to SUNFED for somewhat differing reasons. The United States prefers to keep its
funds for international assistance under its own control; the United Kingdom is more concerned
about a possible extension of its external financial commitments. Neither the United States nor
United Kingdom have shown any indication of changing their positions. The Delegation at the
24th Session is being instructed to maintain the position on SUNFED taken by other Canadian
delegations during the past year, i.e. that we could consider Canadian participation only when
sufficient support was forthcoming from the major potential contributors, and that we would
wish to be assured that the administrative and operational aspects of the proposed fund were
satisfactory. The Delegation has been asked to continue to do what it can to prevent the issue
from dividing Western countries and the under-developed countries.
The other possibly contentious issue involves international trade in primary commodities.
Many under-developed countries are heavily dependent on the export of a single, or of a very
few, primary products; and these products are subject to violent fluctuations in price and volume.
The under-developed countries have therefore been seeking some general over-all plan for
commodity arrangements which could provide a solution to their difficulties; Canada and other
countries have been urging a commodity-by-commodity approach to these problems and have
supported and participated in a number of commodity arrangements to achieve more stability in
trade in certain commodities such as wheat, sugar and tin. The discussion at the 24th session of
ECOSOC is likely to be largely concerned with the international machinery for dealing with
commodity problems. It is hard to tell whether differences in views regarding this machinery
will, in fact, give rise to serious difficulties; in any event, the Delegation has been asked to give
general support for a continuation of the status quo among the bodies chiefly concerned.
It is recommended26
That the Canadian Delegation be approved as constituted.
That the instructions be approved as described above.
That the Delegation seek to play a useful role in discussions of the economic and social
work of the United Nations but reserve its position or, if time allows, refer to Ottawa for
instructions on matters specifically involving Canadian economic and social policies.
24 À cause d'une erreur typographique évidente, l'original de ce
document comporte deux paragraphes identiques numérotés (4). Un de ces paragraphes a été supprimé ici.
Due to an apparent typographical error, the original copy of this document has two identical paragraphs
numbered (4). One of these duplicate paragraphs has been removed here.
25 Pour les documents concernant SUNFED
avant le 31 décembre 1958, voir la Section E du présent chapitre.
See Section E of this chapter for documents relating to SUNFED prior to
December 31, 1958.
26 Approuvé par le Cabinet le 11 juillet 1957.
Approved by Cabinet on July 11, 1957.