The 26th session of the Economic and Social Council will convene at the European
Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva on July 1, 1958.
At its forthcoming session the Council will be concerned for the most part with the problems
of under-developed countries. In this respect it will take steps toward the establishment of the
Special Fund which will make it possible for under-developed countries to undertake special
projects in economic development. It will review the technical assistance activities of the United
Nations and the Specialized Agencies, both with regard to the country programmes carried out in
the under-developed countries and to the administrative and budgetary factors involved in their
implementation. In addition it will consider the establishment of a world food reserve in which
countries with food surpluses would assist food-deficit countries to build up national food
reserves, and the establishment of an international administrative service to provide trained
administrators from advanced countries to serve in the national civil services of under-developed
Another major subject will be the Secretary-General's World Economic Survey and a study of
recent inflationary trends throughout the world.
The Commission on Human Rights, the Statistical Commission, the Commission on the
Status of Women and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs have all submitted reports on their
1958 sessions to the Council for its consideration and approval. Canada serves on the three last
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees presents his annual report to the
General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council; as in past years, this report will be
one of the major items on the social side of the Council's work.
General instructions for the Canadian Delegation and specific instructions on more important
matters of policy are contained in the attachment to this memorandum. Approval for additional
instructions will be sought with regard to the world food reserve, the international administrative
service and the Special Fund.
It is proposed that the Canadian Delegation be under the leadership of Wallace B. Nesbitt,
M.P., who will be Chairman of the Delegation and Alternate Representative. The Rules of
Procedure of the Council relating to the composition of delegations make provision for the
appointment of one Representative and as many Alternate Representatives as may be required.
Dr. G.F. Davidson, Deputy Minister of Welfare, has been elected President of the Council for
1958. He will preside over the 26th session and formal considerations arising out of the Rules of
Procedure require that he be designated as the Canadian Representative. It is proposed that in
addition to Mr.Nesbitt and Dr.Davidson, the Canadian Delegation comprise the following
persons to be designated as Alternate Representatives: M.H. Wershof, Q.C., Permanent
Representative of Canada to the European Office of the United Nations, Geneva; S. Pollock,
Director, International Programmes and Contributions, Department of Finance, and L.A.D.
Stephens, Counsellor, Canadian Embassy, Bonn.
- The approval of Cabinet is accordingly requested for:28
Instructions contained in the attachment to this memorandum and
For the composition of the Canadian Delegation to the 26th session of ECOSOC as listed above.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CANADIAN DELEGATION
TO THE 26TH SESSION OF ECOSOC
When toward the end of the war the task was taken up of creating the United Nations as an
instrument of world order, it was realized that the United Nations should provide for political
stability and security but for economic and social needs as well. The years between the wars had
brought home the increasing complexity of economic interrelations and the need for
international machinery that could deal with them. In addition there were the problems of
reconstruction and stabilization to be faced at the close of the war. It was visualized that for the
most part these needs and problems would be met by functional bodies operating within specific
fields. Some such bodies, for example the Universal Postal Union and the International Labour
Organization, had come into existence earlier and had already proven their worth in peace time.
Others such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Agency, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the
International Monetary Fund had been created during the war to anticipate the post-war
situation. There was, however, the need for a body with a status comparable in some respects to
that of the Security Council, to operate over the whole field of economic and social policy and to
be responsible to the General Assembly for co-ordinating the work of the more specialized
organs. Provision was therefore made in the Charter for the Economic and Social Council, to
consist of 18 members elected by the General Assembly for three-year terms, and to consider
and make recommendations to the General Assembly on international economic, social, cultural,
educational, health and related matters and on the promotion of respect for and observance of
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In the years since its establishment ECOSOC has been faced by the fundamental fact of a
sharp contrast between social and economic situations of the advanced and the under-developed
countries and the vital bearing of this fact on the prospects for world peace and prosperity. Many
of those under-developed countries which emerged at the end of the war or since from colonial
control have brought an aroused nationalism and emotional anti-colonialism to heighten the
divisions which have appeared between the advanced and the under-developed countries
notwithstanding the strong common interest in rising productivity, increased purchasing power
and elimination of barriers to the free flow of goods and capital. The split between the Soviet
bloc and the free democracies of the West which has dominated the political field has added
greatly to the long-range political and economic significance of such divisions.
Canada made a substantial contribution to the establishment of the Economic and Social
Council and was one of the 18 countries initially elected to membership in 1946. In the years that
have followed Canada has served two further terms on the Council. We will complete our
present term at the end of 1958.
While giving full recognition to the essential role of the Council in the developing and
increasingly complex pattern of international economic and social relationships, Canadian policy
in ECOSOC has followed pragmatic lines, emphasizing the need to contain the Council's
activities within the resources of funds and personnel available, the need for selection with a
careful eye to the practical results to be expected, and the predominant role of the Council as a
co-ordinating agency. We have aimed at improving relations between the advanced and under-developed countries. With this objective in mind Canadian delegations have been instructed to
play as practical and constructive a role as possible even on proposals against which they might
eventually have to vote; to keep in mind the necessity of close co-ordination with the United
Kingdom and United States delegations; and to keep in mind the financial limitations on
Canadian support generally applicable to United Nations programmes. Also delegations have
been instructed to avoid unproductive propaganda debates which hamper the useful work of the
Council but to reply as necessary to Soviet bloc delegations if East-West differences emerge.
In maintaining these well-established lines of Canadian policy the Delegation to the 26th
session should bear in mind that Canada will this year be leaving the Council for an indefinite
period and should indicate by active participation to the extent it considers appropriate the
continued interest which we expect to take in the affairs of the Council and its increasingly
important role in promoting the healthy and productive integration of the world society in the
economic and social fields.
The following paragraphs contain more specific instructions on certain important items of the
agenda. In addition, the approval of Cabinet will be sought for instructions concerning the World
Food Reserve, the Special Fund for Economic Development and the International Administrative
Service; and the Delegation will be informed of Cabinet's decisions.
World Economic Survey
The Economic and Social Council each year holds a general discussion of world economic
problems, for which the Secretary-General prepares a report entitled World Economic Survey .
The World Economic Survey for 1957 deals with the inflationary trends experienced by many
countries in the past three years and with the economic downturn which has become apparent in
the Western world during 1957 and the early part of 1958. Itis critical of some of the economic
policies followed during this period by the industrialized countries and draws attention to the
difficulties which fluctuations in economic activity have created for the under-developed
countries and particularly the instability in commodity prices. The Survey indicates that the
recovery from the present downturn may not be so rapid as in earlier postwar recessions. It refers
to the continued expansion of production, although at a slower rate of growth, in the centrally
planned economies of the Soviet bloc.
During the session the Soviet bloc may be expected to expound their views on the instability
of the economics of the Western countries and may seek the adoption of a resolution calling for
some far-reaching measures to deal with world economic problems. Past Soviet initiatives of this
sort (e.g. for a world economic conference or for a new world trade organization) have not
received much support. The Canadian position on such issues has been and should continue to be
that existing international machinery is adequate and flexible enough to deal with economic
problems, although we recognize a need to use it more effectively. Emphasis might also be given
to the importance which Canada attaches to the expansion of international trade and our desire to
support moves aimed at improving international trading conditions.
If efforts are made by under-developed countries to seek from the United Nations fresh
initiatives in various fields to increase the scale or scope of assistance to their economic
development programmes, the Canadian Delegation should take the occasion to express, in
suitable terms, its sympathy for the problems and needs of those countries. In this context, the
Delegation might make appropriate reference to the tangible support which Canada has given not
only through many United Nations aid programmes for under-developed countries but through
other programmes like the Colombo Plan. As further evidence of our genuine interest in the
problems of the under-developed countries, the Delegation might point out that Canada has
already expressed its readiness to join with others in offering support for the Special Fund which
is now under consideration by the Council. Although the exact Canadian position on the Special
Fund will be developed in the debate on the report of the Preparatory Committee which was
established to prepare recommendations for the inauguration of the Special Fund, the Delegation
should make it clear that Canadian support is subject to parliamentary approval, to satisfactory
organizational and administrative arrangements being agreed upon, and to there being broad
support from other members. While it is important that the Delegation should appear responsive
and sympathetic to the legitimate aspirations of the less privileged countries, it is equally
important that their expectations or hopes should not be falsely raised. The Delegation should
therefore stress the wisdom of following a cautious policy in this field in not contemplating
further claims on the resources of the United Nations community before the Special Fund has
been set up and given an opportunity to commence operations.
Regional Economic Commissions; Economic Commission for Europe
One of the principal questions covered in the annual report for the Economic Commission
for Europe is the European Common Market. Since it continues to be a matter of considerable
interest to many countries, it is likely to be discussed at ECOSOC. The Canadian Delegation
should reiterate in broad terms the general support of this country for the objectives of the
Common Market as far as these efforts are directed to the expansion and diversification of trade,
while expressing reservations in general terms about particular provisions of the EEC treaty
which could impair the trading interests of third countries, weaken trading relations that have
been built up between Western Europe and other regions in the post-war period, and impair the
benefits to themselves which might be expected to result from this initiative. The Delegation
should refer to the special consultation procedure which has been worked out by the GATT to
deal with specific and practical problems arising from the Common Market Treaty and indicate
Canadian hopes for reaching mutually satisfactory solutions. If endeavours are made to have
ECOSOC undertake a detailed examination of the Treaty, the Delegation might point out that
such an examination has already been initiated under the GATT.
International Commodity Problems
It is anticipated that in view of the difficult market conditions for many primary products in
recent months, there will be a good deal of discussion on this subject.
This is a subject of considerable concern to Canada, as a producer of a wide range of
agricultural and primary commodities. Under-developed countries, many of which depend on
export earnings of one or a few products, have urged the adoption within the United Nations of a
variety of measures some quite extreme to meet their difficulties. Canadian delegations
have taken the position that no generalized solutions to international commodity problems can be
found. The Canadian position has been that these problems can be approached most effectively
on a commodity-by-commodity basis, and that solutions to commodity problems require the
support of the principal countries concerned. In accordance with this position Canada has been
represented at a variety of international conferences and study groups both within and outside
the United Nations concerned with particular commodities; Canada is a member of the three
intergovernmental commodity agreements on wheat, sugar and tin.
At the forthcoming meeting of ECOSOC, the Delegation should maintain the basic
Canadian position. It should express an appreciation of the economic problems faced by
countries whose export earnings are declining because of adverse developments in commodity
prices; and reaffirm the readiness of the Canadian Government to join with producing and
consuming countries, under procedures which have been internationally agreed, to examine
whether intergovernmental action is feasible or desirable to meet problems of particular
Advisory Services in Human Rights
The programme of advisory services in the field of human rights was established by the
General Assembly at its tenth session. Under the programme fellowships or experts in the broad
field of human rights may be provided at the request of governments and seminars may be
organized on a regional basis. The programme comprises a practical approach to current human
rights problems and one through which countries, such as Canada, which for constitutional
reasons will have difficulty in adhering to international covenants on human rights, may still
participate actively in the United Nations activities and efforts to promote respect for human
rights throughout the world.
The success of the programme in its initial two years has been such as to lead the Secretary-General to request an increase in the funds available for it. The Delegation might support a
reasonable increase in its present budget of $55,000 in so far as it can be shown that the extra
funds can be usefully expended.
par le Cabinet le 24 juin 1958, avec ajout de la clause suivante «that agriculture be specifically
mentioned as one of the provisions of the E.E.C. treaty giving Canada serious concern.»
Approved by Cabinet on June 24, 1958 with the added provision that agriculture be specifically mentioned as
one of the provisions of the E.E.C. treaty giving Canada serious concern.