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Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) (1955-present) Series
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Economic and Social Council Secretariat

Series consists of the records of the Secretary of the Economic and Social Council, including Session working files (from the Second to the Thirteenth Sessions), the supporting documents relating to associated commissions, conferences, international organizations, specialized agencies, and administrative records relating to Council matters. Arranged in the order cited.

Fiscal Division / Fiscal Commission

Series consists of administrative files of the Division and the files of the Fiscal Commission. The latter include interaction with non-governmental organizations and special economic missions. Arranged in the following order: administrative files of the Division, Fiscal Commission files, followed by the Director's correspondence and ephemera.

Human Rights Division

The Human Rights Division of the Department of Social Affairs consisted of an office of the Director, five Sections, and a secretariat. The five Sections were concerned with: (I) the work of the Commission on Human Rights; (II) freedom of information, forced labour, freedom of association, and the plight of survivors of concentration camps; (III) the work of the Commission on the Status of Women; (IV) prevention of discrimination, protection of minorities, abolition of slavery, and problems of statelessness; and (V) the work of the Ad Hoc Commission on Prisoners of War. The Human Rights Division gathered material relevant to these subjects and issues, undertook research, and supported the work of associated Commissions. Records of the Human Rights Division originate from Sections I, II, III, and V and span from 1932 to 1960. There are no records for Section IV.

Records for Section I pertain to the International Bill of Rights Project of the American Law Institute and the “Universal Declarations of Human Rights,” a group of unpublished studies by Dr. Luis Recasens-Siches.

Section II records relate to the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour. They include memoranda between members of the Committee and the Division about hearings held by the Committee from 1951 to 1953. The files also contain reports and testimony about the existence of forced labour camps from non-profit organizations and individuals such as the American human rights activist Stetson Kennedy. The reports and testimony were submitted to the Committee by the United States Mission, the Chinese Delegation, and the International Commission Against Concentration Camp Practices.

Records from Section III detail the Section’s work for the Commission on the Status of Women. The records include: reports, working papers, and meeting agenda generated by the Commission; International Labour Organization (ILO) reports on the post-World War II employment of women; and correspondence between Section staff and representatives of Member States, the ILO, and NGOs. The correspondence largely pertains to the General Assembly resolution of 11 December 1946 [A/RES/56(I)] on the political rights of women, the inclusion of gender in the non-discrimination clause of an ILO draft convention, and a questionnaire sent to Member States on the legal status and treatment of women within the respective states.

There are also chronological files, which include: weekly reports prepared by the Chief of the Section and sent to the Director of the Division; Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolutions; and correspondence between the Chief of the Section, the Director of the Division, and other Division staff. The correspondence relates to: radio broadcasts produced by the Section featuring remarks by notable women such as Eleanor Roosevelt; a married woman’s right to a nationality; aid for survivors of Holocaust “experiments”; the right to equal pay for equal work; prostitution; and other subjects.

Section V records consist of bound and unbound lists of prisoners of war which were submitted by Member States to the Ad Hoc Commission on Prisoners of War. The lists identify foreign prisoners detained within the borders of Member States, as well as nationals detained in other countries. Some of the lists group the names into categories such as war criminals, deceased, escaped, and repatriated. The lists often contain personal information, for example, cause of death, next of kin, birth date, and army rank. Some of the lists include accompanying documentation, such as: officially certified declarations of absence for German prisoners; postcards sent by German prisoners later declared missing; petitions from an organization of relatives of Japanese prisoners; letters to family members from Japanese detainees in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); maps depicting locations of Japanese repatriates in China; and photographs, testimony, and correspondence relating to Italian soldiers held in the USSR.

S-0918 also includes records of Ezekiel Gordon, a senior officer in the Human Rights Division of the Department of Social Affairs (DSA) and the Division of Human Rights of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) from 1947 to 1962. Prior to joining the United Nations, Gordon served in the French Army in World War I and was a member of the Palestine bar. The bulk of Gordon’s records date from 1945 to 1949 and include reports on the protection of minorities, statelessness, and human rights. The records also contain Gordon’s subject files, which include reports on genocide and Gordon’s research material on the topic of slavery.

Office for Inter-Agency Affairs and Coordination (IAAC)

The Office of Inter-Agency Affairs and Coordination was established in 1967 as a division of the Department of Social and Economic Affairs and became a separate department in 1970. It was dissolved at the end of 1978. The primary functions of the Office were: to represent the Secretary-General in communication with specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); to assist departments and related bodies in matters of coordination with these inter-organizational bodies; to assist with coordination and resolving of differences between these inter-organizational bodies; to assist the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, their subsidiary organs and intergovernmental organizations in the formulation of decisions involving system-wide activities; and to serve as the secretariat for the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC).

S-1003 includes records of the Under-Secretary-General of the Office, the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), the Division of Narcotic Drugs, the Office of the Disaster Relief Coordinator, and the Chief of the Representation and Liaison Unit.

Under-Secretary-General

The files include an assortment of administrative and substantive records of Under-Secretary-General for Inter-Agency Affairs and Coordination C. V. Narasimhan. Records relate to decision-making assistance for the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, to communication between Secretariat Headquarters and the specialized agencies, inter-governmental organizations, international conferences, as well as organization of special events and support to yearbook information requirements.

In addition, Mr. Narasimhan’s files contain information about resource development in the lower Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia. There is correspondence with members of the Mekong Committee and its Advisory Board; a report dated 8 April 1975 by the Review Mission of the Mekong program; and several issues of “Mekong Secretariat Notes,” a newsletter with information about flood forecasting, aid to the Mekong area, and fishery studies.

Other records document the work of Ismat T. Kittani, Mr. Narasimhan’s predecessor. Mr. Kittani’s files contain press releases and correspondence about foreign aid for Pakistani refugees in India following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. There are also reports from missions to India prepared by the High Commissioner for Refugees, and a draft resolution on human rights and national development education for youth.

Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC)

The Administrative Committee on Coordination was established per the Economic and Social Council’s resolution 13 (III) of 21 September 1946 “for the purpose of taking all appropriate steps, under the leadership of the Secretary-General, to ensure the fullest and most effective implementation of the agreements entered into between the United Nations and the specialized agencies.” The Secretary-General acted as Chairman of the ACC. Other members were the executive heads of the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Included is correspondence between the Chief of Specialized Agencies and ACC Affairs, the Secretary of the ACC, and the Special Representative in Europe for Coordination and ACC Affairs. These were secondary positions held by UN Secretariat staff. The correspondence covers common interests of the specialized agencies, such as family planning, oceanography, atomic energy, and the peaceful uses of outer space. It also discusses relationships with non-UN intergovernmental agencies (IGOs), the role of the ACC, whether the specialized agencies should use individual flags or the UN flag, and the biological aspects of race.

The summaries for ACC meetings detail a variety of issues such as the Vietnam War, negotiations for peace in the Middle East, and methods of birth control in developing countries. They also contain information about activities of specialized agencies, reviews of UN personnel policy, and the proposal for the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The records of the Preparatory Committee primarily consist of conference speeches, descriptions of UN programs, and draft reports about the administration of the ACC, computer usage, rural development, aid for the handicapped, and other subjects.

The records of the Consultative Committee on Administrative Questions (CCAQ) contain information about personnel policies, reforms to the ECOSOC and ACC, the relationship between the ACC and the CCAQ, and the establishment of the CCAQ. They are comprised of working papers, correspondence, agenda, and reports.

Other ACC consultative committees, sub-committees, and ad hoc working groups represented are the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, the Committee on Programme Appraisals, the Enlarged Committee for Program Coordination, the International Civil Service Advisory Board, the Committee for Industrial Development, the Green Revolution Working Group (concerned with agricultural advances such as high-yielding crops), the Meeting on Social and Related Economic Questions, the Consultative Committee for Public Information, and the Sub-Committee on Science and Technology. Their records include: correspondence; meeting minutes; working papers on issues such as housing, juvenile delinquency, and urbanization; reports on topics including technical assistance and inter-agency cooperation on outer space matters; and reviews of UN programs.

Additionally, there is one file documenting the UN’s participation in world’s fairs. It contains: blueprints of the UN pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair and maps of the Fair grounds; an architectural drawing for the 1964 New York World’s Fair; correspondence and reports detailing ACC coordination of UN participation in these fairs; and information about the League of Nations’ participation in the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Division of Narcotic Drugs

The Division of Narcotic Drugs served as the secretariat for the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Additionally, it assisted governments with the implementation of drug treaties and provided training in drug control. The Division also assisted the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in drug matters, collaborated with UN organs and agencies, and executed projects of the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control.

A set of chronological files primarily contains the correspondence of Frederick K. Lister, Jr., a member of the IAAC and the Liaison Officer for the Division of Narcotic Drugs. Correspondence of Mr. Lister and that of the Director concerns elections for the International Narcotics Control Board, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, a UN-commissioned television special “The Poppy is Also a Flower,” the Gracie Mansion Narcotics Conference held on 3-5 February 1965, and other subjects. The correspondence also includes requests for copies of UN publications on drug abuse.

In addition, records of the Division of Narcotic Drugs contain periodic bulletins on international drug control activities and drug-related research, and a “Report of the UN Survey Team on the Economic and Social Needs of the Opium-Producing Areas in Thailand” dated 1967.

Office of the Disaster Relief Coordinator

Martin Hill served as the Disaster Relief Coordinator. The records document the work of voluntary agencies, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations in disaster relief. Records include correspondence, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Sessions documents, administrative bulletins, reports, and memoranda. The correspondence is between Hill, the Committee for Program Coordination, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East's (ECAFE) Typhoon Committee, and various voluntary and non-governmental agencies. It concerns aid in response to natural disasters. The reports concern meetings of voluntary and non-governmental agencies and the role of science and technology in disaster relief.

There are also records originating with the United Nations Development Program, including the UNDP Field Directory for June 1971, a paper about the Yemen Arab Republic, and summary records of four meetings of the UNDP's Inter-Agency Consultative Board.

Representation and Liaison Unit, Chief

The Representation and Liaison Unit of the Office for Inter-Agency Affairs and Coordination organized United Nations participation at international meetings and was responsible for liaison at Headquarters with the Division of Narcotic Drugs (located in Geneva), the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control (located in Geneva), and the International Narcotics Control Board. It also liaised with: other UN programs; specialized agencies; and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Alexander Messing-Mierzejewski served as Chief of the Representation Unit.

Records for the International Narcotics Control Board include correspondence exchanged between Messing-Mierzejewski, the Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, and representatives of the Member States. The correspondence pertains to Board elections, fundraising, drug-control treaties, representation at conferences, proposals for regional narcotics centers, and the organization of UN narcotics control structures and activities. There are also annual reports of the International Narcotics Control Board.

United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control records include: correspondence about the operation of the fund and coordination with UNDP; reports on projects; briefing packets; and requests for funding. There are also reports, plans, discussion papers, and correspondence about missions to various countries to investigate or implement projects such as reducing cultivation of the poppy by replacing it with other crops.

A wide variety of records document the Unit’s work on the control of narcotic drugs. These include protocols from conventions on narcotics; reports from sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Inter-Agency Advisory Committee on Drug Abuse Control; Division of Narcotic Drugs strategic plans; correspondence about UN participation in conferences on drug abuse control; General Assembly and Economic and Social Council documents pertaining to narcotics; a presentation titled “The UN Fights Drug Abuse” in 35 millimetre slide format with an accompanying audio tape reel; and master copies of the Division’s “Information Letter”.

Messing-Mierzejewski’s records from his position as the Outposted Officer in South East Asia from 1963 to 1965 include reports addressed to the Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs. There is also correspondence exchanged between Messing-Mierzejewski, the Director of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, Thai officials, and representatives of organizations and Member States working in South East Asia on narcotics control. The records contain surveys with information about the opium-growing hill tribes of Thailand, visits to South East Asian countries and diplomats, and rehabilitation options for individuals afflicted with narcotics addiction in South East Asian countries.

There are also records pertaining to Messing-Mierzejewski’s speaking engagements.

Office of the Assistant Secretary-General

Series is a continuation of S-0543, here the records created by the Regional Commissions Section within the Office of the Assistant Secretary-General. Included is the continuation from S-0543 of the European Unit (which includes country files and conference files), as well as the Far Eastern Unit (files relating to the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, ECAFE), and files relating to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA). Arranged in the order cited above.

Related records: Series S-0543 is part of the same series.

Office of the Assistant Secretary-General

Series consists of the records of the Office of the Assistant Secretary-General, including those of ASG David Owen (1946-1950), and his assistants. Also included are the records of the Regional Commissions Section (see S-0932 for the remaining records of this Section). Arranged in the order cited above.

Related records: Series S-0932 is part of the same series.

Office of the Assistant Secretary-General - Registry and Non-Registry

Series is comprised of the filing system numbered files of the Assistant Secretary-General relating to Culture-Education-Science matters, to the Economic and Social Council, to matters of development in health, to human rights and the Human Rights Commission, to narcotics (and the work of the Division of Narcotic Drugs), to non-governmental organizations, to the work of the Population Division, to refugee issues, to the work of the Temporary Social Commission (including the protection of youth), and includes studies on related matters. The predominant dates are 1946-1947 (with records dated in the 1930s related to health work within the League of Nations). Arranged in classification system order.

Related records: This series is followed by S-0917.

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General - Officer-in-Charge Sture Linner - cables

Series consists of cables which were originally with the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, but were created by Sture Linner in his initial capacity as Chief of the United Nations Civilian Operations, then as of 25 May 1961, as Officer-in-Charge ONUC. Arranged chronologically.

Population Division

S-0920 consists of records documenting the United Nations Population Division, a subdivision of the United Nations’ Department of Social Affairs. The records span from 1944 through 1953 and highlight the United Nations’ interest in migration trends and population change, as well as its efforts to improve the standardization of international census taking. The collection is comprised of conference files and research, some of which was maintained by the Office of the Director.

S-0920 contains two boxes of migration studies meeting materials. Records of the International Labour Organization’s Preliminary Conference on Migration held in April and May 1950 at the International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland, consist of planning memoranda and working papers on migration studies submitted by participating countries. Also included within the series are files for the International Labour Organization’s Inter-Agency Meeting on Migration Issues held at the International Labour Office in September 1950 and a follow-up conference in Naples in October 1951, as well as an International Seminar on Statistical Organization held in Ottawa in October 1952. In addition, several files document the work of United Nations committees formed to study migration patterns such as the Permanent Migration Committee of the International Labour Organization, the Inter-Divisional Committee on Migration, and the Technical Working Group on Migration.

The remainder (and bulk) of the collection consists of research on migration and population trends assembled by the United Nations Population Division. These files reflect the Population Division’s primary responsibility of compiling demographic data for United Nations offices and specialized agencies. During its earliest years, the division’s projects included a collaboration with the Statistical Office of the Department of Economic Affairs on a demographic yearbook for 1948 and assistance with the preparation of national censuses conducted by United Nations member states during and around 1950.

Included within these files are studies concerning the policies, prerequisites, and procedures of migration, as well as population and migration statistics by country. The series also includes documentation of the Population Division’s partnership with the Library of Congress on a comprehensive bibliography of migration studies during the early 1950s.

Population Division files originally maintained by the Office of the Director include an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary source material on population trends, data tables addressing inconsistencies among census taking techniques, and correspondence regarding division activities. Files maintained specifically by the office of Frank Wallace Notestein, the Population Division’s first director, include population estimates by country and data concerning demographic changes due to World War II. The latter deals with such topics as displaced persons receiving United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration support and World War II casualty figures.

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