Volume #16 - 342.|
CONSEIL ÉCONOMIQUE ET SOCIAL
ONZIÈME SESSION, LE 3 JUILLET AU 16 AOÛT 1950
Note du secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le Cabinet
CABINET DOCUMENT No. 159 50 ||
le 9 juin 1950|
COMPOSITION OF THE CANADIAN DELEGATION TO THE ELEVENTH SESSION OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL,|
GENEVA, JULY 3 TO AUGUST 16, 1950
It seems likely that the eleventh session of the Economic and Social Council will be of more than usual importance.
2. The Council has passed through the organizational phase and the pattern of its continuing activities is beginning to emerge. The coming session offers a good opportunity for the Canadian Delegation to take stock of the value of the Council's work in the international economic and social field with a view to determining the role which Canada should play in its activities during the remainder of the Canadian term of membership.
3. The agenda for the eleventh session contains several important items which have already been given preliminary consideration and on which definite decisions will probably be taken.
4. The absence of the Cominform representatives should make it possible for the Council to do more productive work than in normal circumstances, when propaganda debates divert the energies of the Western members away from the fundamental purposes for which the Council was established.
5. The attached memorandum attempts to assess in some detail the importance of the eleventh session. It was prepared in the Department of External Affairs and has been discussed with officials of the Departments of Finance, Trade and Commerce, National Health and Welfare and the Bank of Canada, who are in general agreement with the views it contains.
6. A decision is now required on the composition of the Canadian Delegation to the eleventh session of the Council. It is recommended that the Delegation be headed by a Cabinet Minister and that it include two senior alternates, one on economic questions and one on social questions.75
75Le 12 juin 1950, le Cabinet a nommé le ministre des Travaux publics, Alphonse Fournier, chef de la délégation.
[Ottawa], May 26, 1950
ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ELEVENTH SESSION OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL GENEVA, JULY 3 TO AUGUST 16, 1950
There are several reasons why the eleventh session of ECOSOC is of particular importance. Some of these reasons are of a general nature and relate to the past record of the Council, its proper role in the field of international economic and social activities, and Canada's future relationship with it. Other reasons, some of which are linked with these general considerations, are based on specific issues which will be debated at the coming session.
2. The Council has now reached the stage in its development where a serious and objective assessment should be made by us of its achievements and its future usefulness. Such an analysis could not, and indeed should not, have been undertaken by us up to the present. During our first term of membership (1946 48), the Council was preoccupied with the task of working out its organizational and procedural problems and its co ordinating machinery. We did not belong to the Council in 1949. The tenth session (February March, 1950) could hardly be used as a basis for judgment of the value of the organization since most of the items dealt with concerned matters of a continuing nature on which a sort of progress report was all that could be expected, while the larger issues received only preliminary consideration because further preparatory work was required before definite conclusions could be reached.
3. A review of the frst ten sessions shows that the Council has achieved a certain measure of success in co ordinating the activities of the specialized agencies, has initiated a number of worthwhile studies and has provided a useful forum for exchange of views. However, its slim record of practical results raises some misgivings as to its usefulness as an effective international instrument for assisting in the solution of the world's economic and social problems, the task with which it is charged by the United Nations Charter.
4. While the tenth session made little progress in dealing with the important issues before it, the Council could adduce in each case a reasonable excuse for marking time. The Technical Assistance Conference76 had not been held and there was not much the Council could do in developing the technical assistance programme in the meantime. The Experts Report on full employment had not been circulated in time to allow governments to give it detailed study and the Council could legitimately decide to defer final action until the eleventh session. The decision to refer the issue of the financing of economic development to a sub commission of the Economic and Employment Commission was perhaps less justifiable, but the manoeuvre succeeded in postponing action. These delaying tactics, however, cannot continue indefinitely without resulting in serious loss of prestige and at the eleventh session the Council will find it very difficult to avoid taking some definite action.
5. The Technical Assistance Committee will meet in Geneva concurrently with the Council for approximately the first fortnight of the session. The membership of the T.A.C. is identical with that of ECOSOC. The expanded programme of technical assistance is the most important, perhaps the only worthwhile accomplishment of the Council in the economic field. to date. If it works in practice, it will of itself justify the existence of ECOSOC. But it has not yet gone beyond the blueprint stage. The first meeting of the T.A.C. will, to a large extent, determine the successful implementation of the programme at least in its initial period. It is therefore extremely important that sound precedents be established at this meeting and that everything possible be done by the responsible members of the Council to discourage impractical, over ambitious development schemes and to ensure efficient and economical administration. We have in the T.A.C. the opportunity as well as the responsibility of scrutinizing specific projects and requests, helping to ensure efficient co ordination and in general throwing our weight on the side of a sound, sensible programme.
6. Full employment has already been discussed exhaustively in the Council. At the tenth session, the Council passed a resolution, specifically charging its members to be prepared at the eleventh session to give their views on the particular recommendations of the experts and to offer any alternative proposals they might have. It will therefore be difficult for the Canadian delegation to avoid taking a position on each specific measure, national or international, recommended by the experts, and on any alternative proposals put forward by other governments. It may also be desirable for the Canadian delegation to put forward alternative proposals of its own in order to avoid criticism at home for following an unconstructive, negative line on a question of vital importance to Canadians.
7. Some sort of resolution or recommendation on full employment is almost certain to emerge from this session. Such a resolution could be embarrassing to the Canadian Government. The whole question of employment in Canada has important political implications and our participation in the Council debate and decision will require expert knowledge and skilful handling.
8. The item on methods of financing economic development will be considered in the light of the report prepared by the sub commission on economic development. The report is not yet available, but we can be certain that, regardless of the content of this document, the under developed countries will press for some means of obtaining substantial investment capital. They maintain that the technical assistance programme will be sterile if capital is not available for the economic development which would follow technical assistance. They may be expected to urge revision of the articles of agreement of the International Bank. The real significance of the debate on financing of economic development will perhaps be political rather than economic. It is unlikely that the Council will recommend revision of the Bank's articles of agreement or any other specific measures to increase the flow of capital to under developed countries. (This prediction assumes that the sub commission's report will not contain acceptable proposals.) On the other hand, it is important not to strengthen the impression which already exists among the underdeveloped countries that their efforts to improve their economic conditions are meeting with an unsympathetic response from capitalist countries. While the Cominform representatives sat in the Council, the other members tended to form a common front. This external unifying influence having been removed for the time being, the line between the developed and under developed countries is becoming more clearly defined. It would be unfortunate if this tendency were to develop and an issue such as the financing of economic development where there is considerable conflict of interests will have to be handled very carefully.
9. Another important item which has been put off until the eleventh session is the establishment of permanent machinery within the United Nations for assistance to under privileged children. The Social Commission has worked out a plan which it proposes that ECOSOC should recommend to the Assembly. The Council will therefore have to take a decision on this matter and we can expect a wide difference of opinion on what the United Nations should do for children. The financial implications of this decision may be large.
10. One of the items which will probably involve considerable work and which could lead to important results is the proliferation and over lapping of the programmes of the specialized agencies and the United Nations. The General Assembly has charged the Council with the task of reviewing the catalogue of economic and social projects of the agencies and the United Nations and of recommending categories of priorities. While it is undoubtedly true that more efficient co ordination is essential to avoid unnecessary duplication of the activities of various United Nations organs, the problem is a complex one and its solution will not be advanced by the adoption by ECOSOC of over simplified proposals. We have received an unofficial report that the Brazilians may propose amalgamating the budgets of the United Nations and all the specialized agencies and doling out funds from the common budget for approved programmes. Any proposal along these lines would, of course, meet with strong opposition from many quarters.
11. The draft Covenant on Human Rights is also to be considered at the eleventh session and the Council has been requested by the Commission to submit the Covenant to the Assembly at its fifth session. Whether or not the Council undertakes a detailed textual study of the draft, it must take decisions on the submission of the Covenant to the Assembly, the drafting of a federal state clause and a colonial application clause, the inclusion or omission of economic and social rights and the submission to the Assembly of a recommendation made by the Commission for a separate convention on freedom of information.
12. On all of these larger issues, the Canadian delegation should be in a position to make a positive, constructive contribution. Our acceptance of membership in the Council carries responsibilities which we should do our best to fulfil. With a strong delegation composed of members who understand the issues thoroughly, who can speak authoritatively, and who can cooperate effectively with the United Kingdom, United States and other sensible delegations, we may be able to exert a healthy influence on the more impractical and visionary members of the Council. Moreover, if it is agreed that we should at the close of this session take stock of the Council and its work, with particular reference to the role which Canada should play in it during the remainder of its three year term of membership, it is important that the evaluation be made by senior officials familiar with all the issues and principles involved in such an assessment, whose judgment will be sound, objective and based on wide knowledge.
13. A logical approach to the task of evaluation would be to review the Canadian attitude toward the Council when it was first established and to determine how far that attitude should be modified in the light of the first five years' experience. The following excerpts from a statement made by the Honourable Paul Martin before the Economic and Social Council on January 29, 1946, indicate the line which the Government took at that time toward the functions and aims of the Council:
"... there are few tasks concerning the United Nations of more vital importance than those to be undertaken by this Council. We represent, one might say, the positive side of the work of the Organization. Our task is not so much to prevent as to do, not so much to avoid the undesirable as to accomplish the good."
"The Charter assigns two types of functions to the Economic and Social Council: the function of recommendation, including study, and the function of coordination. The Council is not an executive agency in the ordinary sense of the word. The actions taken to accomplish the high purposes set out in article 55 of the Charter ... are actions which will be taken by national governments and by those specialized agencies which have executive functions."
"More positively, it will be our task to see that through our commissions and committees the best in modern knowledge and modern science is made available to all parts of the world. It will be our task to see that help, in the way of expert knowledge and advice, is provided to all Members of the Organization who wish to have it, and those great tasks which can only be undertaken by co operative action among nations are effectively initiated and effectively carried through." "On the other hand, it does seem to us of basic importance that the United Nations and the Economic and Social Council should hold the position of the central body in the whole constellation of inter governmental institutions concerned with economic and social problems. We feel that the task of co ordination is extremely important."
76Voir le document 366./See Document 366.