Ad Hoc Committee on Statelessness and Related Problems, First Session: Summary Record of the First Meeting Held at Lake Success, New York, on Monday, 16 January 1950, at 11.30 a.m.
Temporary Chairman: Mr. HUMPHREY Director of the Division of Human Rights
Chairman: Mr. Leslie CHANCE Canada
Rapporteur: Mr. GUERREIRO Brazil
Members: Mr. CHA China
Mr. LARSEN Denmark
Mr. ROBINSON Denmark
Mr. RUDZINSKI Poland
Mr. KURAL Turkey
Mr. KLIMOV Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Sir Leslie BRASS United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Mr. HENKIN United States of America
Mr. PEREZ PEROZO Venezuela
Mr. HOGAN Secretary of the Committee
Representatives of Specialized Agencies: Mr. WEIS International Refugee Organization
Consultants from Non-Governmental Organizations: Mr. STOLZ American Federation of Labor
OPENING OF THE SESSION
1. Mr. HUMPHREY (Secretariat), acting as Chairman, stated that, in the absence of Mr. Laugier, Assistant Secretary-General in Charge of Social Affairs, it fell to him to open, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the session of the Ad Hoc Committee on Statelessness and Related Problems.
2. He conveyed the best wished of the Secretary-General and of Mr. Laugier for the successful work of the Committee, and recalled that the Committee had been constituted under resolution 248 (IX) of the Economic and Social Council, which also set forth its terns of reference. A five-week session had been planned, and it was expected that the task before it would occupy the Committee fully during that time.
3. Mr. Humphrey called attention to the fact that the Secretary-General had prepared two working papers, one of which - "Status of refugees and stateless persons" (E/AC.32/2) - had already been circulated, while the other, dealing with the elimination of statelessness, would be circulated within a few days. The working papers were presented merely in order to give the widest possible basis for the Committee's discussions and thus to facilitate its work; the Secretary-General did not recommend any particular solution or take sides on the political questions involved. Such questions would be for the Committee, and later for the Economic and Social Council and Member States, to decide.
4. The Committee had been asked by the Economic and Social Council to assist it in implementing the principles embodied in articles 14 and 15 of the universal Declaration of Human Rights, which were that everyone had the right to seek asylum from persecution and the right to a nationality. The Secretary-General and his staff would be happy and proud to assist the Committee in its humanitarian task, and would do everything in their power to facilitate its work.
5. He then invited the Committee to proceed to the election of a Chairman.
PARTICIPATION OF THE REPRESENTATIVE OF CHINA
IN THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
6. Mr. KLIMOV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), speaking on a point of order, said that the USSR delegation wished to support the statement contained in the communications of 18 November 1949 and 8 January 1950 from the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China to the effect that the continued presence in the organs of the United Nations of the representatives of the Kuomintang group was illegal and should be brought to an end, and to insist on the exclusion of the representative of that group from the committee.
7. He was further empowered to say that the USSR representative would not take part in the work of the Committee until that exclusion took place.
8. Mr. Klimov consequently submitted the following resolution:
"The Ad Hoc committee on Statelessness and Related Problems
"Resolves to exclude the representative of the Kuomintang group from membership of the Committee."
9. Mr. RUDZINSKI (Poland) wished to associate his delegation with the views expressed by the USSR representative and the resolution he had submitted. The Polish delegation also would be unable to sit on the Committee so long as the representative of the Kuomintang group took part in the Committee's work.
10. Mr. HUMPHREY (Temporary Chairman) asked the USSR representative to permit the committee to proceed with the election of a Chairman; once that officer had been elected, the USSR representative would of course be free to raise the matter again.
11. Mr. CHA (China) remarked that the USSR representative's resolution was out of order, as the Committee had a purely technical task to perform. The Committee had been established by the Economic and Social Council and was not competent to deal with the point raised by the USSR representative.
12. Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) suggested that, in view of the difficult legal issues involved, the Committee should postpone discussion of the matter until a Chairman had been elected.
13. Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) supported that suggestion.
14. Mr. KLIMOV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) regretted that he was unable to accede to Mr. Humphrey's request. As persons who had no right to membership in the Committee might be elected to one of the offices, it was necessary to deal first with the point he had raised. He considered quite unfounded the statement that the committee was incompetent in the matter. As his resolution, like the the suggestion of the United States representative, was of a procedural nature and had been submitted first, it should be the first to be put to the vote.
15. Mr. HENKIN (United States of America) said that, inasmuch as his Government recognized the Chinese Nationalist Government, in its view the presence of the representative of that Government in the Committee was perfectly legal. He wished to stress, however, that the matter was one for another organ of the United Nations to resolve, and that the Committee should eschew political questions and confine itself strictly to its technical task.
16. Mr. HUMPHREY (Temporary Chairman) called for a vote on the USSR draft resolution, since it was the first motion to be submitted.
The USSR draft resolution was rejected by 6 votes to 2, with 3 abstentions.
17. Mr. KLIMOV (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) thereupon stated that, for reasons already given, the USSR representative would not take part in the work of the Committee so long as the representative of the Kuomintang group participated in it, and that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would not recognize as legal or take into account any decision taken by the Committee with the participation of that representative.
He then withdrew from the conference room.
18. Mr. RUDZINSKI (Poland) declared that the Polish delegation found it impossible to sit in the Committee so long as the representative of the Kuomintang group was one of the members. The Polish Government would be unable to recognize the legality of any resolution adopted by the Committee with the participation of that representative.
He thereupon withdrew from the conference room.
19. Mr. PEREZ PEROZO (Venezuela) explained that he had voted against the USSR proposal on the grounds that the Committee was not competent to deal with the question it raised. The Committee was in effect a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council and its functions were strictly technical in nature. The question raised by the USSR was a political matter which only the Council its itself was empowered to decide.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
20. Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) nominated Mr. Chance (Canada) as Chairman of the Committee.
21. Mr. CHANCE (Canada) explained that he hesitated to accept the chairmanship for the five-week period during which the Committee was expected to meet because he might not be able to serve his full term of office. However, if the Committee so desired, he would be prepared to accept the chairmanship for an initial period with the understanding that he would be relieved of his functions and replaced by the Vice-Chairman if it became necessary.
In the absence of further nominations, Mr. Chance (Canada) was declared Chairman.
Mr. Chance (Canada) took the Chair.
22. Mr. KURAL (Turkey) nominated Mr. Larsen of Denmark as Vice-Chairman of the Committee.
In the absence of further nominations, Mr. Larsen (Denmark) was declared Vice-Chairman.
23. Mr. PEREZ PEROZO (Venezuela) nominated Mr. Guerreiro of Brazil as Rapporteur of the Committee.
In the absence of further nominations, Mr. Guerreiro (Brazil) was declared Rapporteur.
24. Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) noted the absence from the Committee of the representatives of France and Belgium.
25. Mr. HOGAN (Secretary of the Committee) explained that the representative of France was en route by air and that the Belgian representative was expected to arrive on the following day.
26. Sir Leslie BRASS (United Kingdom) moved that, in view of the absence of those two representatives, the Committee should adjourn until the following morning.
The motion for adjournment was adopted unanimously.
The meeting rose at 12.5 p.m.