63 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 605 CANBERRA, 9 0ctober 1947, 12.04 p.m.


Your UN.951. [1]

Whilst we do not oppose elimination of any wasteful and unnecessary expenditure we agree that you should try to restore second meeting of Economic and Employment Commission. Even two meetings of this Commission appear inadequate for consideration of economic trends. The test for deciding the number of meetings and number of committees should not be the money expense, but efficiency and the job to be done. Commissions have got out of hand because they were purposeless. Commissions performing important functions in an efficient manner should not be hampered by lack of funds.

2. It seems that the only way to ensure proper attention to economic problems would be to keep the Economic and Social Council in continuous session on the pattern of the Security Council, making unnecessary many commissions and committees and being in the long run less costly. You will recall this was Australian suggestion put forward at San Francisco. In putting forward this suggestion the following considerations appear relevant:-

(a) Record of Council to date indicates that time at its disposal has proved quite inadequate to deal with substantial problems facing it.

(b) This would be likely to lead to better representation and to ensure that representatives would have some continuity of service and therefore better understanding of problems involved.

(c) Present irregularity of Commission and Sub-Commissions meetings could be overcome by leaving it to the Council, operating continuously, to call meetings of the subsidiary bodies as required.

(d) The Council's function of co-ordination in the international economic field cannot be successfully carried out without frequent meetings, especially as the specialised agencies do function continuously and make decisions from day to day of which the Council should be aware.

(e) Frequent meetings and continuing publicity of the Council would greatly assist all-important public comprehension (at present non-existent) of the work of the Council.

(f) The continuous availability of the Council will do more than anything else to ensur[e] that all economic problems are referred to the United Nations. Immediate attention could then be drawn to any 'by-passing'. A case in point is the proposed Study Group of European Customs Union.

(g) Continuous sessions would involve very little additional cost and ensure constant supervision of Secretarial activities.

(h) The stature of the Council would be greatly enhanced.

3. Please discuss with Minister. [2] This telegram has been discussed with Wilson and Wheeler.

1 It reported that the Fifth Committee had allowed for only one meeting of the Economic and Employment Commission in 1948. The delegation was considering trying to restore the second meeting after the budget was confirmed and sought Departmental comment.

2 Evatt thought it unwise to propose continuous sessions at present. The delegation said greater improvement would be effected by improving the quality of Council's work, particularly if governments would 'use it for real problems and prepare more thoroughly for its sessions'. See cablegram UN1060, dispatched 1 November.

[AA : A1068, ER47/3/24]