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

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Bill of Rights Project of the American Law Institute and the “Universal Declarations of Human Rights,” a group of unpublished studies by Dr.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.

Technical Assistance - Natural Resources and Minerals Branch

The series consists of records which deal with the origination, formulation, execution and evaluation of the relevant projects. The types of records include any of the following: proposals, preparatory documentation, agreements, plans of operation and various reports such as progress, technical, mission, evaluation, etc. There are also departmental supporting documents which comprise background data, guidelines, studies, terms of reference and other relevant papers that bear elements further elucidating project activities. The department which is responsible for providing the necessary advisory services and assistance to the governments of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to strengthen their national capacities has been re-organized several times under the following names:
Dept. of Economic Affairs, ca 1946-1954
Dept. of Economic and Social Council, ca 1955
Technical Assistance Administration, ca 1955-1958
Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, ca 1955-1978
Office of Technical Co-operation, ca 1967-1977
Dept. of International Economic and Social Affairs, ca 1979-1993
Dept. of Technical Co-operation for Development, ca 1979-1993
United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, ca 1985-1993
Dept. for Policy Co-ordination and Sustainable Development, ca1994-1997
Dept. for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis, ca 1994-1997
Dept. for Development Support and Management Services, ca 1994-1997
Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, ca 1998 up to present.
To preserve their identity, the records of the various technical assistance projects are maintained according to their provenance, i.e. the actual name of the organizational element which originated the records forms a part of the series title.
Accession 1988/0199. Total Ln. Ft. 5
Acc. weeded by S.E.
Alicia Weinum 13/08/02

Capacity Development: Training and study activities and arrangements

The records in S-1907 document technical assistance projects administered to developing countries by the Technical Assistance Administration (TAA) for training and study activities. The records contain the administrative arrangements coordinated by the Programme Division of the TAA for projects, fellows and experts, and date primarily from 1956 through 1959. The function of S-1907 is derived from DESA.DEV.062 and DESA.DEV.063 of the retention schedule of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), dated 21 January 2013.

S-1907 records primarily consist of memoranda, correspondence, and reports by either experts or fellows documenting technical assistance projects administered by the TAA to developing countries for training and study activities through the provision of development and training institutions, conferences, seminars and training courses, which provided: expert advice, fellowships, scholarships, scientific and industrial research, pilot and demonstration projects, training of local technicians and officials through the establishment of regional or national training centres and the dissemination of technical information.

Development and Training Institutions and Training Courses

The records from the development and training institutions document the establishment of courses to support the activities of governments in research and applied research, planning, development, training and demonstration, or a combination of these disciplines. The records contain correspondence and memoranda on the planning of courses and development of training institutions such as the Instituto Cartografico, Montevideo, Uruguay; Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinamericanos (CEMLA), Mexico City, Mexico; Centro Regional de Educación Fundamental para la América Latina (CREFAL), Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico; and the Instituto Centroamericano de Investigación y Tecnología Industrial (ICAITI), Guatemala City, Guatemala.

There are also annual project requests, and memoranda and correspondence which cover funding, annual budgets and the assignments of fellows and experts. Correspondence is generally between country governments, resident representatives and the Programme Division of TAA. The experts were responsible for teaching, advising or directing development and training at the institutions, and records indicate that experts were also responsible for writing reports.

Conferences and Seminars

S-1907 contains records that document the planning and execution of conferences such as the Latin American Conference on Steel Making and Transforming Industries, Sao Paulo, Brazil 15-28 October 1956. These conferences were established by request from at least one government, offering to act as a host, and with evidence of interest provided by countries willing to participate.

In addition, seminars were a type of conference that provided an opportunity for participants responsible for making policy, planning programmes or directing operations in social welfare to discuss among themselves the newest technical developments under the leadership of technical assistance experts provided by the United Nations. S-1907 contains records of seminars including: Urbanization in Latin America, Santiago, Chile, 6-18 July 1959; Rehabilitation Seminar for Latin America, Copenhagen, Denmark, 21 June - 24 July 1959; Participation of Women in Public Life, Bogota, Colombia, 18-29 May 1959 and a number of seminars on housing for Central America and Panama from 1954 to 1957. The records consist of memoranda, correspondence and reports such as the "Desarrollo Economico y Social de las Comunidades Indigenas de Guatemala," issued by the Guatemalan Delegation to the Seminar on Teaching Social Service in Latin America. Correspondence and memoranda address planning seminars and nominating or recruiting participants.

Fellowships and Scholarships

The TAA awarded fellowships to assist governments in sending qualified senior personnel to countries where appropriate facilities existed for higher training or advanced study. Fellowships were normally granted for a period of three to six months, and in-training fellowships were awarded for a period of three to twelve months and would advance the governments’ programme for economic development, public administration and social development on the return of the fellowship holder.

Scholarships were awarded to enable governments to send technical personnel or civil service members to study abroad in training schools, universities or other institutes of higher education and to provide appropriate training in fields needing development in the scholar’s country. Scholarships were usually granted for one academic year.

Host governments which offered facilities for training fellows and scholars arranged a suitable programme of observation and study in consultation with the UN. Reports from fellows and scholars were used to determine whether the programme developed satisfactorily, whether it concluded successfully, and whether good use was made of the training and experience gained abroad.

A large portion of S-1907 records document the TAA’s fellowship programme. The governments of Latin American countries made requests in consultation with their government ministries to the TAA for fellowships which became an integral part of the country’s programme for technical assistance. A request was required for a fellowship related to the government’s economic, social or public administration development programme. In addition, the Director-General had the authority to invite countries which were not included in the Technical Assistance Board (TAB) country programming procedure to submit applications for fellowships under Resolution 418(V). After a detailed process to gain approval, the fellow would be assigned a post in their field and deployed to the host country.

Fellowship posts were offered in fields such as industrial development, transport and communications, telecommunications, meteorology, public administration and social welfare. Fellowships were offered by development and training institutions such as CREFAL, CEMLA, ICAITI and the Instituto Cartografico, Montevideo, Uruguay. S-1907 records include requests for fellowships and scholarships, memoranda and correspondence addressing administrative arrangements for fellows, drafts of policies and procedures and reports written by fellows.

Technical Assistance Projects Files - Population Branch

The series consists of records which deal with the origination, formulation, execution and evaluation of the relevant projects. The types of records include any of the following: proposals, preparatory documentation, agreements, plans of operation and various reports such as progress, technical, mission, evaluation, etc. There are also departmental supporting documents which comprise background data, guidelines, studies, terms of reference and other relevant papers that bear elements further elucidating project activities. The department which is responsible for providing the necessary advisory services and assistance to the governments of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to strengthen their national capacities has been re-organized several times under the following names:
Dept. of Economic Affairs, ca 1946-1954
Dept. of Economic and Social Council, ca 1955
Technical Assistance Administration, ca 1955-1958
Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, ca 1955-1978
Office of Technical Co-operation, ca 1967-1977
Dept. of International Economic and Social Affairs, ca 1979-1993
Dept. of Technical Co-operation for Development, ca 1979-1993
United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, ca 1985-1993
Dept. for Policy Co-ordination and Sustainable Development, ca1994-1997
Dept. for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis, ca 1994-1997
Dept. for Development Support and Management Services, ca 1994-1997
Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, ca 1998 up to present.
To preserve their identity, the records of the various technical assistance projects are maintained according to their provenance, i.e. the actual name of the organizational element which originated the records forms a part of the series title.
Accession numbers - 85/0265; 90/0090; 92/0046,93/33

Coordination, partnership: Regional economic commissions, funds and programmes, and specialized agencies

The records in S-1916 document the coordination of projects and partnership between the Department of Technical Co-operation for Development (DTCD) and the United Nations regional commissions, funds, programmes and specialized agencies. The bulk of the records date from 1978 to 1983 and describe the planning and execution of technical assistance projects in developing countries.

The records are arranged alphabetically by regional economic commissions, funds, programmes and specialized agencies and contain draft project documents, correspondence, memoranda, progress reports, and mission reports. Project documents are official proposals that include project objectives, work plans, budgets, and other information relating to the implementation of a project.

Regional Commissions

The records of the UN regional economic commissions contain requests for large-scale regional technical assistance projects in the regions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe and include the records of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), and the Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA). The records contain draft project proposals, correspondence and memoranda and reports prepared by regional advisers. .

The regional economic commissions served as independent executing agencies or worked in cooperation with the DTCD on projects such as: a 1981 Training Workshop on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (ECA); the Improvement of Management Skills and Delivery Capability in the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ECA/DTCD); and the Population Information Centre in China (ESCAP/DTCD). The DTCD also served independently as an executing agency for regional projects including the 1980 Population Census in Ghana and the Critical Poverty project in Panama.

S-1916 consists of project documents, project budget revisions, job descriptions for technical experts, memoranda and correspondence between the geographic branches of DTCD and the Technical Assistance Units of the regional economic commissions. The records also contain progress reports and mission reports authored by regional advisers that identify project objectives and work plans; describe activities undertaken by regional advisers during each phase of the project; and provide conclusions and make recommendations for the project’s future. Regional advisers were assigned to projects in fields such as energy, statistics, social development geology, and demography, and submitted their reports to DTCD and to the regional economic commissions for review.

Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies

Records in S-1916 also document the coordination between the DTCD and the UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies to implement country and regional technical assistance projects. UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies include: the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO), World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The DTCD reviewed all project proposals for which a UN fund, programme or specialized agency served as the executing agency. These project proposals include: a 1979 Study Tour on Foreign Exchange Budgeting in Bangladesh (UNDP); an Automated Programme and Project Monitoring System for Technical Cooperation in Brazil (UNDP); Some Forms of Behaviour of the Population After the Earthquake in Montenegro in 1980 (UNFPA); Integrated Agricultural Development under Irrigation in the Central Valley of Tarija in Bolivia (FAO); and the Research and Post-Graduate Training in Mineral Exploration in Nigeria (UNESCO).

The records also contain project documents, project budget revisions, memoranda and correspondence exchanged between DTCD and the UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies. Memoranda and correspondence detail coordination of technical assistance, project implementation, and project financing. In addition, there are reports unique to each project and include “The Approach to Evaluation of WFP Development Aid,” issued by the Intergovernmental Committee of the WFP.

Coordination, partnership: United Nations Programme on Public Administration and Finance

Records in S-1923 document the coordination of projects and partnerships between the Division of Public Administration and Finance (DPAF) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the United Nations specialized agencies, regional economic commissions, member states and external organizations. The records date from 1965 to 1978 and detail the planning and implementation of projects, training activities, and development of publications and training material in the field of public administration and finance.

In 1974, the Public Administration Division (PAD) of DESA was reorganized into DPAF. As a result of this reorganization, DPAF became responsible for public finance projects and carried out activities in the following fields: personnel administration and training; organization and management services; development programme management; government budget and financial management; and development of financial institutions.

DPAF collaborated with UN regional economic commissions and specialized agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and World Health Organization (WHO). The records include correspondence and memoranda concerning: the production of training materials and publications; attendance at conferences and expert meetings; and coordination and implementation of country technical assistance projects. A small amount of records pertain to correspondence exchanged between individuals and DPAF requesting assistance in the field of public administration.

The records also document the production of final reports of studies, as well as newsletters, manuals, and handbooks on topics in the field of public administration and finance. S-1923 includes revisions and correspondence about draft final reports of studies, including: the Study on Local Government Reform; the Study on Public Administration Component of Integrated Project on Environment of Human Settlements; and the Study on Public Administration of National Family Planning Programmes. Other records include country reports prepared for expert meetings; correspondence and revisions for the “Handbook of Public Enterprise;” and requests from individuals and organizations for the “Public Administration and Finance Newsletter.”

A small amount of records pertain to the Public Administration Division (PAD) and date from 1965 to 1972. These records document the planning and implementation of the following projects: Assistance in the Field of Public Administration, Dominican Republic; Escuela Superior de Administración Pública (ESAP), Peru; Public Service Training, Uruguay; and Central American Institute of Public Administration (ICAP), Costa Rica. The records include: job descriptions for expert posts, project documents, progress reports, cables, and correspondence and memoranda documenting planning and implementation.

World Population Conference, 1974

Records in S-1935 document the planning and implementation of the 1974 World Population Conference by Ralph Townley and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) of the United Nations. Mr. Townley served as the Director of the Office of the Secretary-General of the World Population Conference. Antonio Carillo-Flores served as the Secretary-General of the conference.

The 1974 World Population Conference was held in Bucharest, Romania from 19 to 30 August 1974 and was the first world-wide intergovernmental conference to be held on the subject of population. Two population conferences were previously held in 1954 and 1964, but the 1974 conference was the first to include representatives of member states’ governments in addition to experts in the field of population.

Ralph Townley joined the United Nations in 1951 as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs before moving to the Special Fund as a Project Officer in 1959. Mr. Townley held various positions in the Special Fund and its successor, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from 1959 to 1972. In January 1973, Mr. Townley was appointed as the Acting Director of the Office of the Secretary-General of the World Population Conference. His title changed to Director in January 1974.

Records in S-1935 include Mr. Townley’s chronological files, which contain correspondence and memoranda, reports, and cables documenting the planning and financing of the conference. A small amount of records are Mr. Townley’s personal files, which include correspondence and memoranda from his friends and family and relate to his other positions within the United Nations. S-1935 also contains subject files that are arranged alphabetically by topic and include: conference facilities, cultural activities; population policies of Brazil and the United States of America; public relations; and publications. These records include correspondence and memoranda, reports, cables, agendas and meeting minutes, and drafts of the official conference pamphlet and the World Population Plan of Action (WPPA). The records also document coordination with the United Nations regional economic commissions and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

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