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233 Statement by Makin

, NEW YORK, 19 February 1948

19th February, 1948
Mr. President
It is a significant fact that, following upon a discussion of a survey of world economic trends which demonstrates a high level of employment prevailing almost universally, we should find that an international conference of the United Nations draws our attention to the necessity to plan now against a decline of employment and economic activity.

It was pointed out in the earlier debate that the general inflationary trend revealed in the Economic Report[1] is itself a threat to the maintenance of continuously full employment and high economic activity. But it is not this alone which is significant. The resolution of the Trade and Employment Conference explicitly recognizes, in paragraph 2, that there are 'special factors of temporary duration now prevailing' which will 'cease to operate'.

My Delegation agrees with this judgment that the Conference has made. This Council has already, in earlier discussions, and in its instructions to its Economic and Employment Commission, shown its concern for the preparation of agreed international measures to deal with a situation where a slackening of economic activity and employment becomes a matter of international concern.

The concern of the International Conference on Trade and Employment with this question grows out of the Trade Charter which it is expected will shortly be completed[2] and circulated to governments for ratification. When this Council established the Preparatory Committee for the Trade and Employment Conference it directed it to include in its agenda -
'international agreement relating to the achievement and maintenance of high and stable levels of employment and economic activity'.

The Conference decided to include in the Charter a distinct chapter establishing the responsibility of members in respect of employment, demand, and production policies. Throughout, the Charter has recognized the needs of Members to take measures, in the field of commercial policy, to further the maintenance of full employment and expanding demand and production. Moreover, at successive stages in the drafting of the trade Charter the Governments represented have recognized how much the success of the International Trade Organization, and even its existence, will depend on the maintenance of a world of stable full employment and economic activity free from severe fluctuations.

The fact, demonstrated in this Resolution, that the Conference should look to the Economic and Social Council to promote studies and preparations in matters of employment and general economic policy, is consistent with the recognition which the Trade Charter gives to the Economic and Social Council as co-ordinator of international action in this field. To encourage a sense of confidence between the two organizations in the future - which is so important for co-ordination purposes - we should consider seriously the views of the Conference.

Mr. President, the Australian Delegation is in accord with the main tenor of the suggestions made by the Conference and is prepared, in the Committee, to move a Council resolution to give effect to them. Paragraph 2 expresses the view that studies and preparations need to be begun immediately. My Delegation agrees with that view, and believes it should be transmitted to the Economic and Employment Commission as the view of the Council.

It is then in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b), proposed that the nations should supply information concerning action which they are now taking to achieve or maintain full employment and economic stability, and concerning the nature of their plans to prevent a future decline; and that specialized agencies should indicate the extent to which they can provide assistance if a decline threatens.

So far as the first question is concerned there is, of course, much published material on economic plans already available. But it by no means covers all countries. It is a matter of first-rate importance to all countries to know what steps others are taking to implement their obligations under the Charter. This is a matter where failure to maintain employment and adequate demand for goods in relatively few countries might necessitate failure, or at least difficulty, for all. Similarly, it would seem to be wise for the Council, from its central position, to keep stock of the resources available in international agencies to meet an emergency.

If these objectives are agreed the next step is to relate these projects to the Council's programme of work already under way. It seems to us that the most appropriate step would be for the Council to institute these enquiries. It may be that the Economic and Employment Commission should report to the Council on the form in which requests to Governments for information should be framed.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 deal with questions of population, migration, and the formulation of agreed principles governing treatment of seasonal migration.

I would propose that these paragraphs in the Resolution be referred to the Social Committee for study in relation to the activities of the Population Committee and of the International Labour Organization which has for long concerned itself with migration agreements and whose Permanent Migration Committee is, I believe, now in session. If it were practicable for the Council to remit its conclusions to the I.L.O. promptly they might reach the Permanent Migration Committee in time for consideration.

I notice that already a tentative division of functions between the United Nations and the I.L.O. has been drawn up between the Secretariats.

I hope, Mr. President, that the Council will endorse all the views in this Resolution. It comes unanimously from a Conference which the Council itself called and which was attended by the representatives of 57 governments. The Conference showed itself to be much concerned with the questions raised in their resolutions.

I would recommend that the Resolution be referred to the two committees in the way I have suggested.

[1] Prepared by the Secretariat for the sixth session of the Economic and Social Council.

[2] The charter was completed on 24 March 1948.

[AA : A1838, 701/2/6/6, II]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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