Series S-1931 - Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs - Philippe de Seynes

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Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs - Philippe de Seynes


  • 1951 - 1971 (Creation)

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No. of Boxes: 28

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The records in S-1931 contain chronological files of the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Philippe de Seynes, dating from 1954 through 1971. De Seynes held the title of Under-Secretary for DESA until January 1968 when his title was changed to Under-Secretary-General to reflect the reorganization of the top echelon of the Secretariat as defined by General Assembly Resolution 2369 (XXII), 19 December 1967.

Under de Seynes, the following organizations were established: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Conference on Science and Technology (UNCSAT), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the regional economic commissions. Under his stewardship, the United Nations initiated a series of Development Decades and a unified approach with the merger of the Technical Assistance Administration (TAA) and DESA. De Seynes left DESA in 1974 and became the Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Project on the Future.

De Seynes’ chronological files reflect the organizational changes and administrative arrangements within DESA including coordination between DESA and the regional economic commissions and his responsibilities to the Secretary-General. During his tenure, de Seynes was responsible for overseeing the Bureau of Technical Assistance Operations (BTAO) and the Office of Technical Co-operation (OTC), as well as the substantive offices of DESA including: the Centre for Development Planning, Projections and Policies (CDPPP); Social Development Division; Statistical Office; Population Division; and the Centre for Housing, Building and Planning. S-1931 records contain correspondence; memoranda; cables; and agendas of meetings. A limited number of records also document de Seynes’ 1956 appointment as Under-Secretary in charge of Relief to the Hungarian People with responsibility for coordinating aid and relief efforts for refugees of the Hungarian Revolution.

S-1931 records include memoranda, correspondence and cables that document administrative arrangements, such as appointments, promotions and congratulatory letters for DESA posts; requests to the UN Controller for additional funding and budget planning; coordination with the Executive Secretaries of the regional economic commissions; travel arrangements and summaries of travel activities for DESA personnel; and organizational changes within DESA and the UN Secretariat. The files also document the decentralization of social defence activities, when some staff from DESA’s Bureau of Social Affairs were transferred to the UN Geneva Office to form the Social Defence Unit within the Office of Social Affairs. S-1931 also contains agendas of meetings with the Executive Secretaries of the regional economic commissions; and form letters with attachments including agendas and/or directives. For example, one form letter regarding the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities was sent to member states with attached directives relating to the preparations of and recommendations for producing reports. The chronological files also contain correspondence and cables exchanged between de Seynes and the Officer-in-Charge of DESA at Headquarters in New York while de Seynes attended the annual summer session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva.

The records in S-1931 contain correspondence between de Seynes, during his tenure as the Under-Secretary-General for DESA, and Secretary-Generals Dag Hammarskjöld (1954-1961) and U Thant (1961-1971). Many of these records contain correspondence between Secretary-General Hammarskjöld concerning the integration of the TAA and DESA in 1958. There are also invitations to member states requesting their attendance at meetings and congratulatory letters regarding appointments and promotions of UN personnel from de Seynes on behalf of the Secretary-General.

Other files document the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology (UNCSAT) held in Geneva from 4-20 February 1963. This conference was the first of its kind, an international meeting of scientists, economists, statesmen and administrators from 87 countries to discuss how scientific and technological advances could be used and applied in developing countries. UNCSAT records include correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, information bulletins and reports.

There are also a small number of chronological files of Ralph Townley from his tenure as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Economic Affairs (under David Owens) and as Special Assistant to the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Social and Economic Affairs (under Philippe de Seynes). These records include correspondence and memoranda on a personal and professional nature.

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  • English, French, Spanish

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1975/0023-0001, 1975/0023-0002, 1975/0023-0003, 1975/0023-0004, 1975/0023-0005, 1975/0023-0006, 1975/0023-0007, 1975/0023-0008, 1975/0023-0009, 1975/0023-0010, 1975/0023-0011, 1975/0023-0012, 1975/0023-0013, 1975/0023-0014, 1975/0023-0015, 1975/0023-0016, 1975/0023-0017, 1975/0023-0018, 1975/0023-0019, 1975/0023-0020, 1985/0024-0001

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