58 Hill to Shann

Minute CANBERRA, 21 April 1947

Australian Policy towards Commissions of ESC

The main commissions of the Economic and Social Council were decided upon by the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations when it was agreed that eight such commissions should be established to deal with world problems. However as Tange has pointed out [1] there is now a tendency for the centre of interest to shift from the world field to regional areas resulting in a considerable overlap and duplication of work.

Although the Assembly recommended to the Council the formation of Economic Commissions for Europe and for Asia and the Far East it might have been more appropriate if a recommendation had been made for the establishment by the Economic and Employment Commission of subordinate agencies to deal with the specialised problems affecting Europe and Asia. In this way two major Commissions would have been avoided, thus saving time and manpower, and at the same time the Commission dealing with world principles would have been able to exercise a guiding hand on the regional bodies.

In order to avoid undue overlapping and duplication in the functioning of the Economic and Social Council and its Commissions and in order to save time money and manpower, it might be possible for a full discussion to be held on this aspect of the United Nations at the next regular session. It is thought that we might take the lead in suggesting the closest examination of the economic and social machinery of the United Nations. At such a discussion it would be possible to assess accurately the duplication etc which is taking place and at the same time determine the best method to avoid such duplication while still achieving the best results.

It is suggested that we might continue to support the eight commissions, but press for the establishment of subordinate agencies of these commissions to carry out any regional or local work which may be required. This would ensure the closest coordination of the work of the Council and its commissions and would do away with much of the waste which seems to be so prevalent at present.

It is further suggested that the full statement on Australian policy [2] on the Council, Commissions and specialised agencies should be amended to include this.

1 In a letter to Burton dated 12 March.

2 A statement prepared by Shann for the use of Australian representatives at United Nations conferences and forwarded to the Embassy in Washington on 22 May.

[AA : A1068, UN47/GA/1]