Provisional Summary Record of the Two Hundred and Sixty-first Meeting Held at Lake Success, New York, on Saturday, 12 November 1949, at 10.45 a. m.
|Chairman:||Mrs. Ulla LINDSTROM||Sweden|
|Rapporteur:||Mr. Frantisek VRBA||Czechoslovakia|
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REFUGEES AND STATELESS PERSONS: ITEM PROPOSED BY THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL (A/971, A/1059, A/C.3/527, A/C.3/527/Corr.1, A/C.3/528, A/C.3/529, A/C.3/L.25, A/C.3/L.26, A/C.3/L.27, A/C.3/L.28) (continued)
1. The CHAIRMAN drew attention to the fact that the French delegation had withdrawn its original draft resolution (A/C.3/529) and had submitted two resolutions in substitution for it (A/C.3/L.26, A/C.3/L.27). Also before the Committee were draft resolutions submitted by the Byelorussian delegation (A/C.3/L.25) and by the United States delegation (A/C.3/L/28).
2. Mr. PANYUSHKIN (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) felt it unnecessary to reply to the observations made by the representative of Yugoslavia at the previous meeting, since they had, in his opinion, been intended only to provoke a political controversy into which he refused to be drawn.
3. Mr. VRBA (Czechoslovakia) was surprised that representatives who had had considerable experience of the problem of refugees and stateless persons should quite uncritically propose the continuance of the International Refugee Organization in some form or other. That implied that the IRO had satisfactorily implemented all the provisions of the General Assembly resolution of 12 February 1946, or was on the point of doing so. The statements of the representatives of the USSR, the Ukrainian SSR, the Byelorussian SSR and Poland had demonstrated that the IRO had not fulfilled its obligations. The Ukrainian representative had shown that the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of displaced persons had been hampered rather than encouraged, in direct contravention of Annex I, paragraph 1, sub-paragraph (b) of the IRO Constitution. The fact that many displaced persons had been repatriated in no way altered the fact that a great many had not been so treated. Furthermore, the IRO had failed to implement fully the stipulations of Annex I, paragraph 1, sub-paragraphs (c), (d) and (g) of its Constitution. Traitors, quislings and war criminals had not been surrendered, but had actually been placed in charge of camps and had terrorized genuine displaced persons. Such persons had secretly entered Czechoslovakia after having been incited in the camps to commit murder and sabotage. The very numerous examples which had been cited made it seem incredible that representatives should have failed to realize what undesirable practices were being carried on under the guise of humanitarian activities. A High Commissioner would merely continue the undesirable activities initiated by officials of the IRO. His delegation would therefore oppose the French draft resolution or any similar proposal. It would vote for the Byelorussian draft resolution, because it emphasized the need for the implementation of the General Assembly resolution of 12 February 1946 and for the submission of the relevant information by the countries concerned.
4. At a previous meeting, the representative of the existing Yugoslav Government had laid down as one of the rules which should govern the international treatment of refugees the stipulation that no State should make use of refugees present on its territory in order to jeopardize the independence of the countries from which those refugees originated (A/C.3/SR.257, paragraph 58). He had adduced the example of Mr. Lazar Brankov, a former Counsellor of the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest, who had recently been sentenced by the Hungarian People's Court in connexion with a conspiracy headed by Mr. Laszlo Rajk. Mr. Brankov had remained in Hungary after the open breach between Yugoslavia and the people's democracies, posing as a political refugee on instructions from the existing Yugoslav Government. That fact had been brought out in Mr. Brankov's own confession in open court, at a trial watched by representatives of the world's Press.
5. The representative of Yugoslavia, argued that Mr. Brankov had acted out of fear, although the other Yugoslav diplomats had left Hungary unhampered. That was tantamount to saying that Mr. Brankov had co-operated with the Hungarian Court in order to incur a heavy sentence merely out of fear - a patent absurdity.
6. Furthermore, the Yugoslav representative had deemed fit to attack a Polish draft resolution on discriminations practised by certain State against labour recruited from the ranks of refugees (A/C.3/524), which had been discussed by the Third Committee. He had attempted to create the impression that that draft resolution could be used to provide protection for war criminals and quislings. Paragraph 2, sub-paragraph (d), of that resolution, however, had stated explicitly that immigrant labour should be recruited exclusively on the basis of bilateral conventions concluded between the emigration and immigration countries and negotiated with the participation of the trade unions of the countries concerned. It was hardly conceivable that the Czechoslovak Government or the Czechoslovak trade unions would protect traitors or quislings, or whatever might be the Yugoslav representative's apprehensions about such protection being afforded in his own country.
7. In illustration of the way in which the Yugoslav Government was treating political refugees in violation of the rules which it had itself laid down, attention should be drawn to the case of the 35,000 Greek refugees in Yugoslavia who, as the Yugoslavia representative had stated had been obliged to leave their country because of their fight for democratic principles and the terror prevailing in Greece. He had omitted to mention that many of those refugees had for some time been trying to obtain their transfer to Czechoslovakia. The Yugoslav Government had not heeded their requests, until, at the end of August 1949, thousands of them were bluntly given the choice of either leaving Yugoslav territory immediately or being handed over to the existing Government in Greece. In the latter case, their fate would undoubtedly have been sealed.
8. At the beginning of September, the Czechoslovak Chargé d'Affaires at Belgrade, as a representative of a country prepared to offer asylum to the Greek refugees, had requested permission to visit their camp and to discuss the question of their departure from Yugoslavia. Yugoslav police had prevented him from entering the camp and he had consequently been unable to obtain the requisite information.
9. The Yugoslav authorities had then transferred several thousand Greek refugees to the Hungarian frontier without enabling the Czechoslovak Government to make any preparations for their reception. The Hungarian Government had been compelled to grant them hospitality, for otherwise they would surely have been delivered to the Greek authorities. Finally, however, the refugees had refugees had reached Czechoslovakia, where they were currently receiving asylum. The lives of the Greek refugees had been saved; he could not say the same about the good name of Yugoslavia.
10. Mr. DEDIJER (Yugoslavia) wished to emphasize, firstly, that the representative of the USSR in the Third Committee on two occasions had failed to state whether the USSR Government accepted the Yugoslav Government's proposal that USSR citizens living on the territory of Yugoslavia should be repatriated; and, secondly, that that representative had failed to state that the Yugoslav children who had been sent to USSR military schools would be repatriated from the USSR to YUGOSLAVIA. The Yugoslav delegation reserved its right to use those observations in any way it deemed fit. The failure of the USSR representative to reply to reply to those questions showed the discrepancy between that country's words and its deeds. As a peace-loving country, Yugoslavia was interested in the USSR Government's attitude towards the sovereign independence of Yugoslavia, towards the free organization of international society and towards the need for goodwill between neighbouring countries.
11. Replying to the Czechoslovak representative, he asserted that the trial of Mr. Rajk had been organized in order to stigmatize Yugoslavia as fascist, and therefore ripe for liquidation, after all other means of pressure had been exhausted.
12. With regard to the Greek refugees, it was true that 35,000 had been in Yugoslavia. A group of approximately 3,000 had wished who quit that country and had been permitted to do so immediately. The Czechoslovak Embassy and the Hungarian Legation at Belgrade had been notified on 27 August 1949 that the Greek refugees would be permitted to go wherever they wished. Any delay that had occurred had been the fault of the Czechoslovak and Hungarian diplomatic representatives concerned.
13. Mr. De ALIA (Mexico) found it intelligible that the approach of countries which had been invaded and occupied to the question of refugees and stateless persons should be different from that of countries which had not so suffered. The problem, however, was international in scope and interest. The Pakistan and Lebanese representatives had drawn the Committee's attention to a new category of refugees which had not been envisaged when the definition in the IRO Constitution was drafted. Any organ which succeeded the IRO should be given a scope broad enough to include the new categories rather than simply perpetuate the structure and nature of the IRO, with both its virtues and its defects.
14. The French draft resolution was preferable to that submitted by the United States delegation, because the latter, although perhaps more practical, excluded the new categories of refugees by stating that the persons falling under the competence of the High Commissioner for Refugees should be those defined in Annex I of the IRO Constitution. The French draft resolution was more general in character.
15. The French and United States draft resolutions were not, however, incompatible. It would greatly expedite the work of the Committee if the two delegations concerned could meet to work out a compromise joint draft resolution to be submitted to the Committee at a subsequent meeting.
16. Even the Byelorussian draft resolution was not wholly incompatible with the other two. Its differences were mainly technical, not so great in substance as the debate suggested. It laid particular emphasis on one of the principal original ideas of the IRO Constitution - that the main task concerning displaced persons was their repatriation. A clause laying special emphasis on that obligation and recommending the conclusion of bilateral agreements between the Governments concerned might well be written into the proposed joint draft resolution. Moreover, It should be emphasized that such repatriation must be voluntary and that the High Commissioner would be instructed to provide full legal protection.
17. The proposed joint draft resolution should further provide for the moral and legal protection of categories of refugees not covered by the IRO definition. Moreover, it was most important, if non-member States were to be permitted to use the good offices of the High Commissioner, that there should be a most explicit stipulation under which the non-member States concerned would undertake to comply with the spirit of the IRO Constitution, because otherwise certain of them might conceivably exercise reprisals against repatriated political refugees.
18. Finally, the Mexican delegation felt strongly that the High Commissioner ought to be appointed on the proposal of the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council, so that he would have an independent status and would not be regarded simply as an official of the Secretariat.
19. Mr. CONTOUMAS (Greece) said that he had refrained from analyzing the underlying reasons for the existence of 700,000 Greek refugees because he had felt that the Third Committee should confine itself exclusively to social and humanitarian questions. He had thus refrained from speaking when the Yugoslav representative, alluding to the interesting figure of 35,000 Greek refugees on Yugoslav territory, had asserted that they had fled because of the terror prevailing in Greece. He could no longer contain himself, however, when that assertion was repeated by the representative of Czechoslovakia. The fact of the matter was that those refugees had not fled from any sort of terror; they had deliberately risen against the laws of their own country and had voluntarily gone elsewhere. The refugees in Yugoslavia were probably composed of partisans, children abducted from their homes, as had been discovered in the First Committee, and sympathizers. They had voluntarily emigrated in order to be among persons of their own sort who were no doubt supporting them for reasons which it would be better to suppose than to express at that stage.
20. Mr. FENAUX (Belgium) said that the discussion would lead to better results if representatives would refrain from political acrimony. The fate of countless refugees depended upon the Committee's decisions and a practical solution to the problem was urgently needed. Some representatives appeared to think that the only problem was to remove the obstacles which the IRO was alleged to have placed in the way of repatriation. The problem of repatriation had however been largely solved already, as the representative of the IRO had pointed out, and the chief problem for the future was to provide legal protection and material assistance where necessary.
21. The representative of Pakistan had asked why the IRO should not continue with that work. The Organization had nearly completed the specific task it had been set up to accomplish and it was no longer necessary to provide for such a large and costly international service with the power to act directly inside States. Moreover, the problem of refugees could no longer be confined within the strict definitions laid down in the IRO Constitution. He was therefore pleased to note that the idea of establishing a High Commissioner's Office had gained general support.
22. Turning to the various draft resolutions, he said that, although the wording submitted by the Byelorussian SSR (A/C.3/L.25) seemed inoffensive, the spirit of that draft resolution had been brought out very clearly by the speeches of those who supported it. When viewed in that light it became quite unacceptable.
23. He agreed with the representative of Mexico that, in order to avoid any confusion owing to the existence of two parallel proposals, the representatives of the United States and France should be asked to try to prepare a combined draft resolution.
24. Mr. ROCHEFORT (France) said that the representative of Mexico had touched on the core of the problem when he had stated, quite rightly, that the problem of refugees could no longer be confined within the strict limits of the IRO Constitution.
25. He understood that the existence of two parallel draft resolutions might cause some difficulties and he was fully prepared to accept the Mexican representative's suggestion, provided that the committee would waive the time-limit for the purposes of the submission of a new draft resolution.
26. Mrs. CASTLE (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) thanked the representative of France for the alterations he had already made to his original proposal in response to various suggestions. It would greatly facilitate matters if the representatives of the United States and France could agree on a joint draft resolution or if, failing that, they could propose alternative texts for the points on which they could not agree and a joint text for the remainder of the proposal Representatives would then find it easier to formulate any amendments they might wish to make.
27. Mrs. WILSON (Canada) said that her country had, from the outset, been a strong and consistent supporter of the IRO and was very anxious that some arrangement should be made to handle the continuing problem of refugees following the termination of IRO activities.
28. She supported the proposal that a High Commissioner should be appointed, who would report to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council, and would serve as a constant reminder of the importance of the problem, If the Secretariat were to handle the problem it might tend to treat it as being purely administrative. The close relationship contemplated between the High Commissioner's Office and the Secretariat would make it easy to refer the work to the Secretariat at a later stage if that proved advisable.
29. She agreed with the French representative that the Assembly should not only decide on the establishment of a High Commissioner's Office at its current session, but should also lay down the general principles to govern the activities of the High Commissioner. It was first essential to reach a proper definition of the categories of refugees which should come under the mandate of the High Commissioner's Office. She was glad that the phrase "The powers of the High Commissioner shall extend to all refugees" no longer appeared in the new version of the French draft resolution (A/C.3/L.26). She understood the difficulties raised by the representative of Pakistan at the previous meeting, but it would be unrealistic to extend the responsibility of the High Commissioner to cover every possible category of refugee. She felt, therefore, that the High Commissioner's responsibilities should extend to all refugees as defined in the IRO Constitution as well as to any other category which the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council might expressly designate in the future.
30. Although the primary function of the High commissioner's Office would be to provide legal protection for the refugees, it was also quite probable that a certain amount of material assistance would still have to be provided. There should, therefore, be some provision enabling the High Commissioner to recommend, either to the assembly or to the Economic and Social Council, the granting of material assistance for specific categories of refugees. Some representatives seemed reluctant to envisage the need for material assistance, but that problem would continue to exist and there was no escaping from it. It should therefore be stated that material assistance would be covered by a separate budget collected on a voluntary basis and that it would be granted only with the approval of the General Assembly or to the Economic and Social Council. Since the problem of refugees was international in scope, all responsible governments should contribute to the funds for material assistance.
31. Her delegation considered that the High Commissioner should not concern himself with any problem apart from legal assistance or with any groups of refugees apart from those included in the IRO Constitution, unless he was authorized to do so by the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council. She agreed, therefore, with Chapter III, paragraph (b) in the Annex to the French draft resolution (A/C.3/L.26), although it seemed unnecessary to specify that the United Nations could refer any other refugee problem to the High Commissioner, for that was quite obvious. The final words of paragraph (d) of that same Chapter, "...and to improve the condition of refugees" seemed somewhat ambiguous. They might refer either to the legal status or to the economic and social conditions of refugees. She therefore thought it would be better to replace them by a statement to the effect that the High Commissioner could recommend to the General Assembly or to the Economic and Social Council, the granting of material assistance for specific categories of refugees.
32. She assumed that the Secretary-General would cover all the administrative details in his report to the Economic and Social Council. Her delegation's main concern in that respect was that an efficient and economical organization should be established and that the administrative expenditure should be covered by the regular United Nations budget.
33. She did not agree with the proposal in the French draft resolution that the High Commissioner should be elected by the General Assembly. In her opinion, it would be more suitable for the Secretary-General to appoint the High Commissioner subject to approval by the Economic and Social Council. She supported the suggestion made by the representative of Mexico that an attempt should be made to combine the French and United States draft resolutions.
34. She had intended to reply to the allegations made against her Government concerning the Polish children who had been resettled in Canada but, in view of the convincing statement made by the Director General of IRO, that was no longer necessary. As for the question of the Polish art treasures in Canada, she wished to abide by the Chairman's ruling that any discussion on that subject was out of order. The Polish Government could use the normal diplomatic channel if it wished to communicate with her Government on the subject.
35. Mrs. ROOSEVELT (United States of America) said that her delegation was of course quite willing to try once more to combine its draft resolution with that submitted by the French delegation. In the meantime, it might be useful if she were to clarify some of the main points of difference between the two texts.
36. In the first place, her draft resolution proposed that the Assembly should decide on the principles during its current session. Thereafter, the Secretary-General and the Economic and Social Council would draft a final resolution to be adopted at the Assembly's fifth session, which would still be in time for the establishment of the new organization in 1951. In that way, a careful and considered decision would be achieved, which would provide the maximum satisfaction for all the Governments concerned. The French draft resolution, on the other hand, proposed that final decisions should be taken immediately on all the aspects except the administrative and financial arrangements.
37. In the second place, her text proposed that the High Commissioner's Office should be established for three years, whereas the French text proposed no fixed period. In her opinion, it would be better to fix a definite period so as to enable the Assembly to review the situation and to decide whether the Office should be continued and whether any changes were needed in its activities.
38. In the third place, the United States text proposed that the persons coming within the scope of the High Commissioner's Office should be those defined in the IRO Constitution. The Assembly could add further categories at any time and her draft resolution requested the Economic and Social Council to consider the recommendation of such additional categories. There was ample time, before the High Commissioner's Office was established, for the Assembly to receive advice concerning the inclusion of additional categories of refugees. The definition of different categories of refugees required study and careful drafting and the Committee would not have sufficient time to do the work justice during the current session. Although the definitions in the IRO Constitution were precise, they were also broad. They had been adopted by the Assembly after a whole year of drafting debate and they had worked well in practice. Before the United Nations could assume responsibility for any given group of refugees, it was essential to study the circumstances in which the persons had become refugees. Such circumstances varied greatly and if the United Nations were to assume responsibilities too readily, it might raise false hopes in the minds of refugees or potential refugees, which it would afterwards be unable to fulfil.
39. The item had been placed on the Assembly's agenda in order to provide for a certain very definite category of refugees, namely those who required legal protection. The refugees who were inside their own countries and still enjoyed the protection of their own governments did not come within the scope of the discussion, although they might be in great need of material assistance. Even the refugees requiring legal assistance had to be carefully defined before the United Nations could assume responsibility for them.
40. The French draft resolution provided that the High Commissioner should also accept responsibility for refugees covered by the international convention to be drafted by the Economic and Social Council, even before that convention had been adopted by the General Assembly. According to the United States text such responsibility could be accepted only upon the decision of the General Assembly.
41. In the fourth place, her delegation considered that the High Commissioner should be appointed by the Secretary-General, whereas the French delegation favoured his election by the General Assembly. If the High Commissioner were elected by the General Assembly, he would be set apart from the Secretary-General who was the chief administrative officer of the United Nations. The Secretary-General's sense of responsibility for the work of the High Commissioner would inevitably tend to be weakened and the High Commissioner in his turn might fail to integrate his work with the other services of the United Nations.
42. Lastly, the French draft resolution provided that the High Commissioner should receive and administer relief funds, a subject which her delegation would prefer to discuss at a later stage.
43. Mr. KATZNELSON (Israel) said that the Lebanese representative had protested against the assistance which the IRO had given to Jewish displaced persons by contributing towards the cost of their transportation to Israel. By so doing, however, the IRO had avoided the heavy burden of maintaining those displaced persons in camps for an indefinite period. Furthermore, it had always been clear to all those familiar with that problem that the only possible solution was to transfer Jewish displaced persons to Palestine.
44. According to the Lebanese representative the IRO had violated paragraph 1 (d) of Annex 1 to its constitution which stated that "it should be the concern of the Organization to ensure that its assistance is not exploited in order to encourage subversive or hostile activities directed against the Government of any of the United Nations." The Jewish refugees assisted by the IRO had gone to Palestine to lead a productive and peaceful life while the subversive and hostile activities, not against one Member of the United Nations but against the United Nations as a whole, had been carried on by the Arabs who had attacked the Jews and invaded Palestine.
45. The Lebanese representative had also referred to an alleged violation of paragraph 1 (g) in the same Annex, which stated that "the Organization should endeavour to carry out its functions in such a way as to avoid disturbing friendly relations between nations. The Organization should give due weight, among other factors, to any evidence of genuine apprehension and concern felt in regard to such plans, by the indigenous population of the non-self-governing country in question."
46. Regarding the first part of the paragraph, it was common knowledge that peaceful relations in the Middle East had not been disturbed by the IRO but by those who had launched an unprovoked attack without any relation to the re-settlement of refugees. Regarding the second part, it should be remembered that there had been no alternative at the time, and that the choice had lain between re-settling refugees in Israel or leaving them in camps for an indefinite period. Furthermore, the paragraph did not apply to the case under discussion, for Palestine had not been a Non-Self-Governing Territory even before the establishment of the State of Israel. It had been mandated territory under an international covenant which included specific provisions to facilitate Jewish immigration into Palestine.
47. The representative of Lebanon had then charged the IRO with having created the Arab refugee problem and had said that for every 100,000 persons re-settled in Palestine, 1,000,000 new refugees had been created. The Government of Israel did not minimize the humanitarian aspect of the Arab refugee problem, even if the number of refugees was actually much smaller than that mentioned. He wished, however, to deny most categorically the fantastic allegation that the re-settlement of Jewish refugees had created the Arab refugee problem. He had previously told the Committee that during the period of the Mandate, prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, Palestine had absorbed almost 400,000 Jewish immigrants. According to the Lebanese representative, that immigration should have led to the displacement of the entire Arab population which had numbered some 550,000 persons at the beginning of the Mandate. Instead, however, the Arab population had increased by 600,000 - more than 100 per cent - during that period, and it had become more prosperous than it had ever been before. The problem of Arab refugees was a direct consequence of the war forced upon Israel by the Arab States in flagrant violation of the will of the United Nations. It was also the result of a policy of voluntary evacuation adopted by the Arab leaders at the time. That problem, however, had been referred to another committee by the General Assembly and would be examined shortly.
48. Mr. RAMADAN (Egypt) pointed out that the representative of Israel had dealt with a question which was not on the agenda of the Committee. The Lebanese representative had only referred to violations of the IRO constitution, and the representative of Israel should have confined himself to that subject.
49. Mr. BAROODY (Saudi Arabia) emphasized that there was little connection between the provisions of the IRO Constitution and the Palestine problem. The Lebanese representative had pointed out that by violating its own constitution, namely by transporting Jewish displaced persons to Palestine, the IRO had created conditions which had led to the conflict in Palestine. The main responsibility for that conflict rested with various Powers which, for reasons of their own, had not hesitated to sell Arab interests down the rivers Potomac, Moskva and Thames. It might be asked by what right the President of the United States had demanded the admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine. The President's jurisdiction extended only over the United States of America and he should have asked his own Congress to amend United States immigration laws of as to admit those refugees into his own country. The Arab States had merely risen to the defense of their Muslim brethren in Palestine against unwelcome intruders from overseas. To maintain that the Arabs had been exterminating the Jews when 800,000 Arabs, namely 80 per cent of the Arab population of Palestine, had been driven from their homeland was a blatant inconsistency. The representatives of Israel were prone to refer to and make great play of what they described as international decisions. The fact that a decision was taken on an international level did not yet mean that it was necessarily just and right. Indeed, such decisions were taken by men who, although they might possess international standing, were yet subject to all human frailties and hence not infallible. The United Nations decision on Palestine was a striking illustration of that.
50. Mr. ROCHEFORT. (France) hoped that the statement made by the United States representative did not represent the final and irrevocable position of her delegation. Indeed, the French draft resolution was already the outcome of a compromise and although his delegation would be prepared to make further concessions, other delegations should do likewise.
51. It was the belief of the French delegation that protection and assistance constituted one whole. Legal protection, in the guise of a passport, for instance, would be of little use to people who were blind, tubercular or starving. He hoped, therefore, that the problem of material assistance would not be overlooked and he had submitted another draft resolution (A/C.3/L.27) on that subject to the Committee. It was true that his delegation was anxious for some concrete decision. The problem had been thoroughly examined, both by the Secretariat and by the Economic and Social Council, and he feared that any further postponement of final decisions might result in much delay, the matter being passed back and forth between various organs of the United Nations. That would greatly embarrass countries which, like his own, were grappling with the problems of refugees and had to take urgent measures.
52. When suggesting that the High Commissioner should be elected for a term of five years, the French delegation had been merely guided by precedents in similar cases, so that he did not think it would be difficult to reach an agreement with the United State delegation on the exact term of office.
53. A more serious difficulty, however, was raised by the question of the persons who should come under the jurisdiction of the Office of the High Commissioner. The United States wanted those persons to be "those defined in Annex 1 of the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization." The adoption of that provision would seal the matter permanently and it would then be very difficult indeed to provide for the addition of further categories of persons. Furthermore, the definitions contained in the IRO Constitution were somewhat out of date. Also, their enforcement required a large staff of "eligibility officers" whose only concern was to determine whether a person was eligible to be regarded as a refugee, and who often had to make unjust decisions because of some trifling administrative or other regulation. Hence the French draft resolution proposed that the High Commissioner would be competent to deal "as a provisional measure" with refugees as defined in the Constitution of the IRO to emphasize that the definitions in question needed revision. In so doing, the French delegation was interpreting the views of many other delegations which felt the difficulty of embarking on a wider course of action on the basis of a very narrow text without saying at least that that text was only provisional.
54. The provision authorizing the High Commissioner to administer any relief funds which might be placed at his disposal was also based on a precedent established under the League of Nations. Governments could not be deprived of the right to show concern for problems of assistance and to provide assistance through the High Commissioner.
55. The French proposal that the High Commissioner should be elected by the General Assembly, instead of being appointed by the Secretary-General as proposed by the United States, was also based on various precedents. Dr. Nansen, Sir Herbert Emerson and the two Directors-General of IRO had been elected and not appointed. There was nothing in the Charter to prevent the adoption of that method of nomination for a post which had been inexistent when the Charter had been drawn up. He did not wish the High Commissioner to have any precedence over the Secretary-General of the United Nations; on the other hand, he did not want him to be a mere subordinate of the Secretary-General; election by the General Assembly would only enhance his international status as adviser to Governments on matters of refugees.
56. His country had gained world-wide renown for the manner in which it had always granted asylum to those seeking shelter within its frontiers. It had acquired first-hand knowledge and experience of all problems connected with refugees and was at that very moment grappling with many more. He felt, therefore, that France was entitled to have its views on that matter taken into consideration.
57. Mr. GEORGE (Liberia) wished to associate himself with those who had supported the Mexican suggestion that the French and United States representatives should submit a joint draft resolution and hoped that considerations of procedure would not thwart that effort at a compromise.
58. The French draft resolution proposed that the High Commissioner should be elected for a term of five years by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council and that he should be assisted by a Deputy Commissioner appointed by him. The Liberian delegation believed it would be better if the High Commissioner were appointed by the Secretary-General on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council for a period of five years. The Deputy High Commissioner should also be appointed by the Secretary-General on the recommendation of the High Commissioner for a similar term of office.
59. Chapter II (e) of the annex to the French draft resolution proposed that the High Commissioner should appoint liaison officers with the agreement of the Governments concerned. In his opinion such appointments should also have the approval of the Secretary-General. Regarding Chapter III (c), he wished to suggest the insertion of the following words after the word "refugees":
"making and signing in the name of the United Nations such agreements as may ensure the healthful conditions incident to their repatriation".
60. Turning to paragraph 5 (c) of the United States draft resolution, he suggested that the words "requiring protection" should be amended to read "requiring legal, social, religious and political protection". He hoped that his suggestions would be taken into consideration and added that he would support any move to enable the French and United States delegations to submit a joint draft resolution.
61. The CHAIRMAN proposed that the Committee should reverse its previous decision on the time-limit for the submission of new draft resolutions and amendments and should fix 3 p.m. on 14 November 1949 as the time-limit for the submission of new draft resolutions, and 3 p.m. on 15 November 1949 as the time-limit for the submission of new amendments.
There being no objection, it was so agreed.
The meeting rose at 1.50 p.m.