Statement by Dr. Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on "The Refugee in the Postwar World," A Preliminary Survey conducted by Mr. Jacques Vernant, 30 January 1952
Dr. G. J. van Heuven Goedhart, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, today issued the following statement in connection with certain press reports on the responsibility for the contents and the methods of distribution of the preliminary Report drawn up by a Survey Group headed by Mr. Jacques Vernant and called "The Refugee in the Postwar World".
"Shortly after taking up office I had reached the conclusion that a scientific research of the refugee situation at the time of termination of International Refugee Organization activities was most desirable. My Office not having funds for carrying out such a survey, I approached the Rockefeller Foundation which granted my Office a sum up to $100,000 for this project. It was understood that the survey should be carried out independently and on a purely scientific basis, the authors alone being responsible for the substance of the Report. Accordingly I confined myself to inviting Mr. Jacques Vernant to head the Survey Group which was to produce a preliminary report by December 1951. Mr. Vernant appointed the other investigators and accepted together with his colleagues 'sole responsibility' for the Report to be published.
"It is clear therefore that the Rockefeller Foundation's participation was strictly limited to the provision of funds and it assumed no responsibility nor was it expected to assume responsibility for the selection of investigators, for the conduct of the Survey, or for the findings of the Survey. It is also clear that neither the United Nations nor my Office can be considered as bearing in any sense the responsibility for the substance of this Report.
"Such criticisms as have been made on the preliminary Report by a few delegations were directed partly to the contents of the Report and partly to the fact that in distributing it the Secretariat of the United Nations gave the Report the United Nations symbol and a High Commissioner for Refugees document number.
"As regards the contents of the Report I draw attention to explicit statements in the preface of Mr. Vernant saying that 'findings must be treated as provisional, to be amplified or corrected during the second stage of the survey in 1952'. As regards the use of the symbol and number, this decision for which I am not responsible was in keeping with normal procedure.
"I am still convinced of the great value of an independent survey and very much hope that those who raised objections, which I fully appreciate, will suspend their final judgement until the Survey Group has produced its full report next June. Apart from measures already taken in keeping with the wishes of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, arrangements are being discussed for the private publication of the final report without the use of United Nations channels."