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AG-004 · Fonds · 1919 - 2000

The sub-fonds are arranged by predecessor departments/offices.

  • Department of Economic Affairs (1946-1954)
  • Department of Social Affairs (1946-1954)
  • Technical Assistance Administration (1950-1958)
  • Department of Economic and Social Affairs (1955-1977)
  • United Nations Office of Interagency Affairs and Coordination (1969-1977)
  • Department of Technical Cooperation for Development (1978-1991)
  • Department of International Economic and Social Affairs (1978-1991)
  • Development and International Cooperation (1978-1991)
  • Department of Economic and Social Development (1992-1992)
  • Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (1992-1996)
  • Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis (1993-1996)
  • Department for Development Support and Management Services (1993-1996)
  • Department of Economic and Social Affairs (1997-present)
UN. Department of Economic Affairs
AG-004-002 · Sub-fonds · 1919 - 1962
Part of Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) (1955-present)

This Sub-Fonds consists of the following Record Series.

Assistant Secretary-General - Non-registry files S-0917
Assistant Secretary-General - Registry files 1933-1949 S-0544
Human Rights Division - Ad Hoc commission on Prisoners of War S-0921
Human Rights Division - Ad Hoc committee on Forced Labour S-0919
Human Rights Division - documents S-0918
Human Rights Division - status of women S-0920

Fonds includes records of the Population Division and the Social Welfare Division which have not yet been entered into the database. For further information please consult the archivist.

Finding aids: Series descriptions and file lists available in the database. Additional file lists available in the Reading Room; please consult the archivist for assistance.

United Nations Department of Social Affairs
Division of Social Welfare
S-0921 · Series · 1920 - 1954
Part of Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) (1955-present)

S-0921 consists of records documenting the United Nations’ Division of Social Welfare, a subdivision of the United Nations’ Department of Social Affairs. The records span from 1920 through 1954 and highlight the United Nations’ interest in social welfare services across the developing and developed world. The collection includes correspondence, interoffice memoranda, conference files, committee reports, working papers, and research notes and addresses a myriad of topics ranging from post-World War II refugee camps to penal reform.

S-0921 contains the records of several offices and sections within the Division of Social Welfare: Office of the Director, Office of the Deputy Director, Social Policy and Development Section, Social Defence Setion, Social Services Section, and Housing and Town and Country Section.

Office of the Director:
Files belonging to the Office of the Director document the administration and activities of the Department of Social Affairs and, more specifically, the Division of Social Welfare. Departmental and divisional reports, meeting minutes and materials, correspondence, and memoranda highlight programme initiatives and illustrate the breadth and depth and the Division’s scope. Topics addressed within the files include child welfare, family protection, juvenile delinquency, housing, migration, social defence, standards of living, and the trafficking of women and children.

In addition, several files concern the issue of refugees and displaced persons following World War II. These files detail the activities of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the creation of the United Nations’ International Refugee Organization (IRO) which was designed to continue refugee work after the UNRRA was disbanded. Also included are files for commissions and committees on which members of the Division of Social Welfare served, seminars hosted by the Division, and specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations whose work overlapped with that of the Division.

The papers are arranged in a loose alphabetical order, maintaining the original filing scheme of the Office of the Director. Subject files on similar topics appear throughout the Director’s files.

Office of the Deputy Director:
The files originating from the Office of the Deputy Director focus on topics similar to those of the Director. Arranged in loose alphabetical order, the papers highlight the work of the Division of Social Welfare and include correspondence, memoranda, reports, meeting and conference materials, and additional documentation of divisional activities. Also included are papers for several sessions of the Social Commission, the Temporary Social Welfare Committee, and the Economic and Social Council. In addition, there are records of the International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) which was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 1946 to assist children living in war-torn countries.

A large group of records, nearly two full boxes, pertains to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Proposed by United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and founded on 9 November 1943 following an agreement between 44 nations, UNRRA was formed to coordinate relief efforts for victims of war who resided in United Nations Member States and countries governed by Member States. Such relief was expected to come in the form of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and repatriation or resettlement assistance. These files document both the work of UNRRA and the transfer of its advisory social welfare services to the United Nations as stipulated by Resolution 58 of the United Nations General Assembly.

Social Policy and Development Section:
The Social Policy and Development Section files are comprised of papers formerly belonging to the Studies and Research Section, the Research and Publications Section, and the Refugee Division and Section. The Studies and Research Section subject files are arranged in loose alphabetical order and describe some of the scientific and cultural research activities undertaken by the United Nations. Additional files pertain to the United Nations Research Laboratories, an idea first proposed by delegates attending a May 1946 meeting of the Sub-Committee on Natural Sciences of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations. The purpose of the laboratories was to facilitate and coordinate international research efforts ranging from nutrition and disease control to soil erosion and reforestation.

In an effort to better gauge and prioritize international research needs, the United Nations called upon experts in a number of fields. Among those consulted was Albert Einstein, then at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. A letter signed by Einstein and dated 19 March 1947 confirms the physicist’s appointment with one of the members of the Division of Social Welfare. A typescript transcription of Einstein’s March meeting along with handwritten edits by Einstein records the conversation between the two. The letter and the transcript can be found in the Studies and Research Section files (S-0921-0032-0003).

The Research and Publications Section consists of three files of black and white photographs taken at the United Nations’ social welfare seminars held in Latin America during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Two of the files contain images of participants of the United Nations Social Welfare Seminar held in Medellín, Colombia in August 1947. The third file holds an album with one hundred small (3 ¼ by 4 ½) photographs taken at child welfare seminars held in 1952 and 1953.

The bulk of the Social Policy and Development Section files belong to the Refugee Division and Section. Administrative files include agenda and minutes from Division and Section meetings, progress reports, and documentation on specialized agencies with whom the Refugee Division and Section cooperated. Requests from refugees and displaced persons living in United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) camps in Europe express despair, sadness, anger, and confusion following the War, as well as hope for a better future. In these letters refugees asked for assistance in locating missing relatives, returning home, and rebuilding their lives in places where they trusted their liberties would be restored. Correspondence between UNRRA personnel and Division staff paint an equally telling image of life in the camps both for the victims of war and for the personnel providing their services.

Additional files illustrate the work of the Division of Social Welfare and the role it played in the creation of the State of Israel. Included are reports concerning Palestine and Jewish migration from Europe to the Middle East. These outline both the one-state and two-state solutions for governance of the area. Documentation details the General Assembly’s decision to accept the Partition Plan favoring two separate states for the Arab and the Jewish communities and the responses which followed this decision.

Several of the files belong to the Special Committee on Refugees and Displaced Persons, a committee formed on 16 February 1946 by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The committee convened in London from 8 April to 1 June 1946 to review the refugee and displaced persons situation following the end of World War II and to produce a report which would later be presented at the second session of the Economic and Social Council in June. The committee’s efforts focused on defining the terms “refugee” and “displaced person” in order to determine which individuals would be entitled to government support. Members of the committee were also responsible for gathering data on refugees, as well as repatriation and resettlement efforts.

The committee’s final report proposed the creation of the International Refugee Organization (IRO), a non-permanent specialized agency of the United Nations. The bulk of the Committee’s papers in S-0921 pertain to the IRO and the work leading up to its creation, including drafts of its constitution and memoranda regarding Member States’ willingness to ratify it. Reflected within these files are Joint Planning Committee meetings conducted by members of the United Nations, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (IGC). The purpose of these meetings was to plan for the transfer of services from existing refugee organizations to the newly-created IRO.

Two boxes of files underscore the activities of the Preparatory Commission for the International Refugee Organization, the commission formed to initiate the work of the IRO before a Director-General was appointed. The files contain correspondence, cables, progress reports, and addresses presented at meetings and conferences.

The Social Policy and Development Section also encompasses the records of the Interdepartmental Working Group on the Evaluation of Advisory Social Welfare Services. This working group was tasked with evaluating the transfer of social welfare activities from UNRRA to the United Nations according to General Assembly Resolution 58 and the integration of those activities within the broader United Nations mission. The papers consist of alphabetically arranged files on advisory services in various countries, drafts of the final evaluation report compiled by the committee, and background information on the history of the United Nations’ social welfare programme.

Social Defence Section:
The Social Defence Section consists of subject files on juvenile delinquency, prevention of crime, and treatment of offenders. Correspondence and reports document the efforts of the International Penal and Penitentiary Commission, an intergovernmental organization which transferred its functions to the United Nations on 1 December 1950, and the United States Working Group on Social Welfare Activities of the United Nations. Also documented are meetings of international organizations and experts concerned with the prevention of crime; government responses to the United Nations questionnaire on prison reform; and reviews of international criminal policies.

Country files comprise the bulk of the Social Defence Section’s papers. They are arranged in alphabetical order and contain research compiled for the Division of Social Welfare’s study on a variety of topics, including juvenile delinquency, probation, prevention of crime, treatment of offenders, and general criminal statistics.

Social Services Section:
The Division of Social Welfare’s Social Services Section was responsible for administering and evaluating the advisory social welfare functions transferred from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) to the United Nations. Through Resolution 58 of the General Assembly, provisions were made to send social welfare experts to work with the governments of United Nations Member States, as well as to coordinate continuing education fellowships for welfare specialists, to accelerate rehabilitation of the disabled, and to improve training programmes and materials used by emerging social work professionals.

The files contain information about national and international youth organizations, specialized agencies of the United Nations working with youth services, and government legislation concerning youth guidance. A study by the Division of Social Welfare on economic measures of family assistance makes up the bulk of the collection and consists of two sets of alphabetically arranged country files. The first set of files contains correspondence between the Division of Social Welfare and government representatives outlining the purpose and scope of the study, acknowledgements of delivered information, and requests for additional materials. The second set of country files holds information provided by the Member States participating in the study, as well as notes taken by Division staff on legislative information. Much of the published reference material submitted by Member States to the Division of Social Welfare in preparation for this study is contained in ten boxes at the end of the collection (S-0921-0081 – S-0921-0090). Other files from the Social Services Section contain information about studies on child war victims and adoption services.

Housing and Town and Country Planning Section:
There is one box of files belonging to the Housing and Town and Country Planning Section. The bulk of these files pertain to an International Meeting of Experts on Tropical Housing held in December 1947 in Caracas, Venezuela. Additionally, there are files for the Advisory Committee on Planning and Coordination of the Social Commission and the Interdepartmental Technical Ad-Hoc Committee on Housing and Town and Country Planning.

S-1003 · Series · 1923 - 1979
Part of Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) (1955-present)

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.


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.

AG-004-005 · Sub-fonds · 1923 - 1979
Part of Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) (1955-present)

Fonds consists of the following series.

S-1003 Under-Secretary-General's working files 1951-1978 S-0575 Administrative Committee on Coordination records
Assistant Secretary-General's records
Division of Narcotic Drugs records
Representation and Liaison Unit records
Under-Secretary-General's Mekong Committee records

Department of Economic and Social Affairs OUSG