Volume #13 - 424.|
LES NATIONS UNIES
ORGANISATION INTERNATIONALE DES RÉFUGIÉS
Note du secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour la délégation à la Commission consultative de l'Organisation internationale des réfugiés
le 27 janvier 1947|
The initial meeting of the Preparatory Commission of the I.R.O. has been convened for Geneva, Switzerland, beginning on February 11, 1947. It is anticipated that the duration of this meeting will be from seven to fourteen days. Attached is a copy of a letter, dated January 11, 1947,† from the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Secretary of State for External Affairs enclosing the provisional agenda of this meeting.
2. As additional background material for the guidance of the Canadian delegation copies of the following documents† are also enclosed:
a) A speech by the Honourable Paul Martin in the General Assembly of the United Nations, on December 15, 1946, in favour of the Assembly resolution approving the Constitution of the I.R.O.†
b) A speech by Mr. Martin in the Third Committee of the Assembly, on November 8, 1946, setting forth the Canadian Government's policy towards the I.R.O. and reviewing the steps already taken by Canada in contributing to a solution of the refugee problem. Mr. Martin's two speeches, taken together, give a full statement of the Canadian Government's position with regard to the International Refugee Organization.†
c) A memorandum entitled "The Refugee Problem" prepared in the Department of External Affairs for inclusion in the Commentary for the use of the Canadian delegation to the recent meeting of the General Assembly in New York.85
d) A memorandum dated December 18, 1946,t containing the section concerning refugees from the Final Report of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, prepared immediately after the adjournment [illegible]. This memorandum discusses [illegible] I.R.O. and other refugee questions [illegible] account of the Canadian [illegible] forecast concerning the future of [illegible] should be of considerable use to the Preparatory Commission as it gives a detailed account of the background from which the Preparatory Commission meeting has developed. It will be noted (page 8) that Canada (Mr. Martin) on December 18th signed both the I.R.O. Constitution and the Interim Arrangement establishing the Preparatory Commission, being the first state to do so.
e) General Assembly document A/265† containing the Draft Constitution of the I.R.O. (pages 7-33); the Assembly Resolution on the Draft Constitution and Interim Arrangements (pages 37-39); and the Resolution on arrangements to be taken by Member Nations with regard to the screening of displaced persons (pages 40-41). One amendment to the Draft Constitution was accepted by the General Assembly. In Article 11, paragraph 1 (page 20) concerning the Headquarters of the I.R.O., a United Kingdom amendment was accepted adding after "Paris" the words "or Geneva as the General Council shall decide."
f) General Assembly document A/275† containing the financial and Budgetary Provisions for the I.R.O. (see paragraphs 14 to 18 of the memorandum of December 18th on the Third Committee). The provisional scale of contributions are listed on page 9 (Administrative expenses) and page 10 (for Operational expenses other than for large-scale resettlement). Expenses for large-scale resettlement are now on a voluntary basis. The two reports in A/265 and A/275 were voted on together by the General Assembly on December 15th and were adopted on roll-call vote by 30 votes to 5. There was 18 abstentions. The Slav states voted solidly against the reports (i.e. against the I.R.O.) with the exception of Czechoslovakia, which abstained.
g) Order-in-Council P.C. 2071 of May 28th, 1946, which made admissible to Canada certain categories of near relatives of Canadian residence formerly not admissible. Mr. Martin's speech of November 8th (pages 6-8) outlines the plan which has been worked out between the Canadian Government and the I.R.O. to send Canadian immigration teams to Europe to inspect and select those admissible relatives under P.C. 2071 who are now in Displaced Persons camps in Europe. It is anticipated that these teams will be leaving Canada during the latter part of February.
3. It will be seen from the Annex on Interim Arrangements (A/265 page 39, paragraph 9) that the Arrangement establishing the Preparatory Commission shall come into force when it has been signed by 8 states who have alsosigned the Constitution of the I.R.O. Our information is that the 8 states who have now signed the Interim Arrangement are Canada, the United States, France, the Philippines, Honduras, Liberia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. We have also received information that the United Kingdom Government will sign the Interim Arrangement before February 11th and will thus be represented at the Preparatory Commission meeting. It is not known what other states, if any, will sign the Interim Arrangement in time to be represented at the meeting in Geneva.
4. The functions of the Preparatory Commission are set out in paragraphs 2 to 8 of the Annex on Interim Arrangements. Paragraph 3 of the Annex is particularly important as it gives broad powers to the Commission in taking over the functions, assets and personnel of other organizations working in the field of refugees "provided that the Commission is satisfied that this is essential."
5. Moreover, as pointed out in paragraph 26 of the memorandum on the Third Committee, there is grave doubt concerning the coming into force of the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization. This arises from the stipulation that at [illegible] and approve the Constitution, with a [illegible] to at least 78% of the operational budget [illegible] resettlements), in order to bring it into effect. The [illegible] may therefore be a protracted one and this will [illegible] Commission very significant if [illegible] action is really going to be effective.
6. From the agenda it will be seen that the bulk of the Preparatory Commission's work will be of a technical nature involving a great many administrative decisions. In these circumstances it is impossible to give instructions in advance concerning each of the problems which may arise. It is better to lay down some principles which should guide the Canadian delegation. These general instructions can be supplemented by an exchange of telegrams when necessary:
a) The Canadian Government favours the earliest possible establishment of the International Refugee Organization. Any measures which will assist this objective should be supported.
b) Concerning the post of Executive Secretary of the Commission we have no particular candidate in mind. This will be a tremendously important post and will require someone with great energy, initiative and organizing ability. Previous experience in the refugee field would probably be an advantage but need not be regarded as essential if these other three qualities are present.
c) Concerning personnel, we believe that the staff of the Preparatory Commission should be recruited on a purely individual basis and very sparingly at first, i.e. an appointment should only be made when it has been demonstrated that a real need exists. Any attempt to absorb whole groups of former UNRRA workers into the Preparatory Commission should be strongly opposed by the Canadian delegation.
d) In regard to co-operation with other agencies in this field, we believe the Preparatory Commission should not make any attempt at present to take over the functions of the I.G.C. If the International Refugee Organization does come into existence these [illegible] will come under the new organization, at the proper [illegible] Preparatory Commission is to prepare the ground for the [illegible] functions when the I.R.O. does come into force. Serious difficulties will certainly arise if, in the [illegible] of any large source of funds, the Preparatory Commission undertakes heavy commitments in the resettling or re-establishment of refugees instead of concentrating on its primary task of laying the foundauons for the I.R.O.
e) The approaching termination of UNRRA's D.P. activities on June 30th, does, however, present a very immediate problem which the Commission will have to face. The only possible method of dealing with this question is by arrangements made after discussion between the occupying military authorities, UNRRA, the I.G.C. and the Preparatory Commission. Inevitably the main burden of the displaced persons problem will rest, temporarily at least, on the occupying powers, when UNRRA ceases its work. Yet there is no reason why the I.G.C. cannot take over some of the functions in the D.P. camps formerly performed by UNRRA. In general, the Canadian delegation to the Preparatory Commission should resist any attempt to make the D.P. problem in Germany a purely military responsibility of the three occupying authorities (the United Kingdom, the United States and France).
7. Many other matters will require additional instructions beyond these general principles. While considerable latitude will be required by the Canadian delegation in making administrative decisions at Geneva, instructions should be sought by telegram from Ottawa whenever issues involving policy are raised.
8. Attempts will undoubtedly be made at this meeting of the Preparatory Commission to secure from the Canadian delegation some commitments concerning Canada's future policy in admitting European refugees. For your information the whole question of future immigration policy, including the subject of refugees, is now under review in Ottawa. As yet, however, no decisions have been [illegible] ... speech of November 8th  in [illegible] of the action already taken by [illegible] refugees to Canada, with [illegible] decision making admissible additional [illegible] Canadian residents. This is the only [illegible] Canadian immigration policy. While the Canadian delegation will not be in a position to go beyond a reiteration of Mr. Martin's statement, if called upon to comment on Canadian refugees policy, the delegation should obtain as much information as possible concerning the qualities of these refugees and Displaced Persons as potential immigrants. We would also like to have any information concerning the steps already taken or contemplated in regard to the resettlement of these people by other potential countries of reception. We already have much material of this nature in Ottawa and any additional information the delegation to the Preparatory Commission may be able to obtain will be useful in connection with the general review of immigration policy now being made in Ottawa.