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Research Guides


Land of Opportunity: Australia's post-war reconstruction


International reconstruction

United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration

In the first half of 1943, Dean Acheson, Lord Halifax, Maxim Litvinov and Wei Tao-ming spent five months drawing up an agreement to establish the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). It was signed by President Roosevelt on 9 November 1943 and the next day delegates from 44 countries attended the first UNRRA Council in Atlantic City. After lengthy arguments, they decided that contributing nations would repatriate millions of displaced persons in Germany, but its activities ultimately extended to many other countries in Europe and Asia. The headquarters of UNRRA was in Washington (the United States provided about 72 per cent of UNRRA funds) and by the end of 1944 it had offices in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia and China and relief missions to Albania, the Balkans, Ethiopia, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. Reports had been submitted on Europe's likely needs in terms of health, food, textiles, agriculture and industrial rehabilitation. Following the end of the war in Europe on 10 May 1945, UNRRA went into full operation and within two months had deployed 2656 people in 332 teams in the western zones of Germany. A number of Australians were prominent in the UNRRA organisation, including Robert Jackson (Deputy Director-General), Sir Raphael Cilento, E Ronald Walker, Constance Duncan and Muriel Doherty.

Australia was the fourth largest contributor to UNRRA. The Australian government decided on an initial contribution of £12 million, which was ratified by Parliament in November 1944. The Department of War Organisation of Industry was given the task of coordinating the procurement of supplies for UNRRA, while the Department of Commerce and Agriculture was heavily involved in identifying sources of supplies. In late 1944 UNRRA set up an office in Sydney which was responsible for its activities in South-east Asia and the Pacific. In February 1945 the UNRRA Council for the Far East held a conference at Lapstone, near Sydney, attended by representatives of nine countries. Australian aid was mostly directed to China, and to a lesser extent the Philippines, and took the form of raw wool, clothing, textiles, industrial equipment, fishing vessels and foodstuffs. The supplies of food were limited by the great drought of 1944–45 but increased in 1946. The Australian Council for UNRRA, which coordinated the activities of voluntary organisations supporting UNRRA, organised clothing drives in 1945 and 1946 that sent huge quantities of clothing to Europe and China.

Negotiations began in 1946 about creating a new relief organisation under the auspices of the United Nations with the more limited role of repatriating and resettling displaced persons. The International Refugee Organization came into existence in May 1947, taking over UNRRA's assets, activities and personnel.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDA, 1941–49
Series: A2700
Australian membership of UNRRA, 19 July 1944 695
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, 6 February 1946 695A
Post-United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration relief, 15 April 1947 695C
Australian participation in the International Refugee Organization and post-UNRRA relief, 12 May 1947 695D
International Children's Relief Organisations in Europe, 1949 1485A
External relief aid, 12 May 1949 1485B
Relief for Palestine refugees, 1949 1574
Department of Commerce and Agriculture
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1948–56
Series: A609
Post-war relief, 1941–44
Memoranda, correspondence and minutes on planning for post-war relief, the formation of UNRRA and resolutions on supply problems. The correspondents include J Curtin, LG Melville and JG Crawford.
548/2/2
Australian supplies for post-war relief, 1943–46
Minutes of meetings (June–October 1943) of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Post-War Relief Supplies (chair: JG Crawford) and correspondence, memoranda, statements and statistical tables regarding Australian commodities, agricultural machinery and drugs available for post-war relief, the value of Australia's contribution to UNRRA and distribution of foodstuffs in China. The contributors include JF Murphy, E McCarthy, CL Steele, JA Tonkin, C Massey, K Ewart, JG Crawford and FH Wheeler.
548/2/4-5
UNRRA Technical Sub-Committee on Agriculture for the Far East, 1944–45
Minutes of meetings (November 1944 – February 1945) of the Technical Sub-Committee on Agriculture for the Far East and agenda papers, reports and correspondence on Australian agricultural production prospects, agricultural production in Asian countries, meetings of working parties and the Lapstone conference. The correspondents include ER Walker, CE Critchley and G Briggs.
548/2/13
Department of External Affairs
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1943–44
Series: A989
Post-war relief and food problems: Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, 1942–43 (2 parts)
Draft memorandum (October 1942) on a United Nations program for freedom from want of food, and correspondence, cables and reports on post-war relief and rehabilitation proposals and the establishment of UNRRA. The correspondents include WR Hodgson, SM Bruce and LF Giblin.
1943/735/751/1
Relief: United Nations Administration: Australian contributions, 1943–44
A Cabinet submission (13 July 1944) by JB Chifley and HV Evatt, correspondence, cables and speeches about the 1944 UNRRA Bill, Australian national income and contributions to UNRRA. The correspondents include Sir Owen Dixon, WR Hodgson, SR Carver and H Lehman.
1943/735/751/9
UNRRA: relief supplies from Australia, 1943–44
Correspondence, cables and minutes concerning responsibility for the supply aspects of UNRRA, discussions with UNRRA, wheat supplies and woollen clothing.
1944/735/752/5
UNRRA: supplies: revision of estimates, 1944
Correspondence on the revision of estimates of supplies available to UNRRA and contracts with the British government regarding exportable surplus of foodstuffs. The correspondents include JG Crawford, AV Smith, FH Wheeler and JHL Cumpston.
1944/735/752/8
Australian Council for UNRRA: memoranda, 1944
Minutes of meetings (August–November 1944) of the Executive Committee of the Australian Council for UNRRA and its committees, circulars, correspondence and speeches.
1944/735/754/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945
Series: A1066
Goods supplied to UNRRA, 1945
Correspondence and minutes about Australian relations with UNRRA and the purchase of goods on behalf of UNRRA. The correspondents include JDL Hood, EL Aitken, H Staley and FH Wheeler.
ER45/6/1/3/2
Australian contributions to UNRRA: requests for supplies from Australia, 1945
Correspondence, cables and newspaper cuttings concerning requests by UNRRA for supplies, including meat, dairy products, wool and blankets, and undertakings made at the Lapstone conference.
ER45/6/1/5
Australian contributions to UNRRA: general policy, 1945
Correspondence and cables on a possible further Australian contribution of £12 million to UNRRA, supplies for the Far East, and the extension of UNRRA aid to Korea and Formosa (Taiwan).
ER45/6/1/8
UNRRA Far Eastern Committee: Sydney meetings: subject matters for discussion, 1945
Notes by ER Walker for use by HV Evatt, a speech by Evatt, and correspondence about the Lapstone conference.
ER45/6/4/1/6
UNRRA: 3rd session of Council, 1945
A report (8 October 1945) by J Oldham on the 3rd session of the UNRRA Council in London and correspondence, cables and reports on membership of the Central Committee, Australian policy regarding the Committee for the Far East, the location of a regional office, displaced persons in the Far East and aid to China. The correspondents include HV Evatt, JDL Hood, SM Bruce, EG Arnold and JB Brigden.
ER45/6/12
Department of Post War Reconstruction
CORRESPONDENCE FILES OF THE ECONOMIC POLICY DIVISION, 1944–49
Series: A9790
UNRRA, 1946–47
Correspondence concerning the visit of RG Jackson, the Deputy Director-General of UNRRA, to Australia and the proposed Australian contribution to the International Refugee Organization and other relief organisations. The correspondents include AS Brown, WE Dunk and KCO Shann.
711
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1941–50
Series: A9816
Australian machinery for post-war relief, 1943–45
Correspondence and memoranda on the organisation and funding of post-war relief and minutes of an inter-departmental meeting (6–7 April 1945) on the procurement of supplies in Australia for UNRRA (chair: AA Fitzgerald). The correspondents include J Curtin, JG Crawford, LF Crisp, AH Tange and AV Smith.
1943/1000
Post-war relief: Australian supply position, 1943–46 (3 parts)
Reports and minutes of meetings (June–October 1943) of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Post-War Relief Supplies (chair: JG Crawford), correspondence and memoranda on post-war relief, relief procedures, discussions with UNRRA and coordination of relief supplies. The correspondents include HC Coombs, LG Melville, JG Crawford, AH Tange and G Schneider.
1943/1001
Post-war relief experience last time, 1943
Memorandum on relief deliveries and relief loans in 1919–23, and notes and bibliographical references on food relief in Europe after World War I.
1943/1103
UNRRA Committee of Council for the Far East: Lapstone Conference, 1945
Speech by HV Evatt, notes for the minister on UNRRA agencies and food procurement, conference papers and a report of meetings (15–20 February 1945) of the UNRRA Council for the Far East at Lapstone, NSW.
1945/616-22
UNRRA relief, 1944–6 (2 parts)
Reports of UNRRA and correspondence and memoranda on the world food situation, food allocation and the question of a further Australian contribution to UNRRA. The correspondents include JG Crawford, GG Firth, TW Swan and THE Heyes.
1946/77
Department of the Army
GENERAL AND CIVIL STAFF CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1943–51
Series: MP742/1
UNRRA, 1944
Report (9 October 1944) of an inter-departmental meeting on UNRRA assistance for the rehabilitation of Papua and New Guinea, and correspondence and memoranda on relief in the territories. The correspondents include A Conlon, JW Burton and P Ryan.
274/1/246 Item 14
UNRRA, 1944–46
Correspondence, minutes, reports and other documents including estimates for relief and rehabilitation in Papua and New Guinea (27 October 1944), minutes of a meeting (23 January 1945) of the Sub-Committee on Displaced Persons for the Far East, summary of meetings (15–19 February 1945) of the UNRRA Council for the Far East at Lapstone, and a report on UNRRA activities in November 1945.
274/1/246 Item 16
Department of Trade and Customs
PAPERS RELATING TO POST-WAR ECONOMIC MATTERS, 1927–56
Series: A9879
UNRRA: general, 1943–47
Correspondence, cables and reports on the draft UNRRA agreement, the first session of the UNRRA Council (November–December 1943), the establishment of relief machinery in Australia and a meeting (10 February 1947) of the Council for the Far East.
9900 Pt 1
Treasury
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1901–76
Series: A571
Post-war relief, 1941–46 (6 parts)
Correspondence, cables, minutes, reports and newspaper cuttings on post-war relief plans for Europe, the establishment of UNRRA, financial aspects of post-war relief, relief supplies for New Guinea, the Lapstone conference (February 1945), meetings of the UNRRA Council, processing of UNRRA requisitions, wool and wheat contributions, and Australia's second contribution to UNRRA (February 1946). The correspondents include AC Joyce, WE Sheehan, WE Dunk, FH Wheeler, RJ Whitelaw, JB Brigden, LHE Bury, E McCarthy and HC Coombs.
1943/3801
Post-war relief: Australian supplies, 1943–48 (2 parts)
Minutes and reports of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Post-War Relief Supplies (chair: JG Crawford) and correspondence, cables, statements and memoranda on Australian participation in UNRRA, commitments of Australian supplies and the closure of the UNRRA office in Sydney. The correspondents include J Curtin, JB Chifley, FH Wheeler, RJ Randall and HH Wiedersehn.
1943/3802
Post UNRRA relief, 1947–53 (3 parts)
Reports of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the report (July 1947) of an inter-departmental committee, and correspondence, cables and minutes on Australian contributions for relief, the availability of food and other items, offers of raw wool, a draft agreement between Australia and Greece, Palestinian refugees, and Australia's contribution to the International Children's Emergency Fund. The correspondents include GPN Watt, FH Wheeler, RJ Randall, HR Woodrow and JW Burton.
1947/1529

Food and Agriculture Organization

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) had its origins in discussions at the League of Nations in the years preceding World War II. In a speech at the League of Nations Assembly on 11 September 1935 SM Bruce, the Australian delegate, called for 'a marriage of health and agriculture'. His proposals were based on a memorandum by his economic adviser, FL McDougall, entitled 'The agricultural and the health problems'. In October 1942 McDougall wrote another memorandum on a 'United Nations program for freedom from want of food', which elicited a positive response from United States officials. As a result, a United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture was held at Hot Springs, Virginia, in May–June 1943 with 44 nations represented. HC Coombs led the Australian delegation. The conference set up an interim commission, based in Washington and chaired by Lester Pearson. It drafted a constitution and prepared technical reports. The FAO was established on 16 October 1945 at a conference in Quebec with the aim of raising the level of nutrition and standards of living, securing improvements in the efficiency of production and distribution of food and agricultural products, and improving the condition of rural populations.

The first Director-General of the FAO was Sir John Boyd Orr, with McDougall serving as his special assistant. Lord Bruce became the first Chairman of the Council in 1947. In September 1946 the FAO became an agency of the United Nations.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDA, 1941–49
Series: A2700
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 12 September 1944 728
Food and Agriculture Organization, 2 July 1946 728A
Food and Agriculture Organization, 6 August 1946 728B
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: review of activities of Australian FAO Committee, 3 November 1948 1544
Department of External Affairs
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1943–44
Series: A989
Food and Agriculture Organization: Interim Commission, 1943–44
Correspondence and minutes about the views of Australian experts on the organisation and functions of the proposed Food and Agriculture Organization. The correspondents include WR Hodgson, HC Coombs, JHL Cumpston, LF Giblin, AR Callaghan, I Clunies Ross and GA Currie.
1943/735/741/2
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945
Series: A1066
United Nations proposals: Food and Agriculture Organization conference, 1945
Correspondence, minutes and cables concerning the first Food and Agriculture Organization Conference at Quebec (November 1945), Australian delegates, and decisions of the conference. The correspondents include HV Evatt, JDL Hood, E McCarthy, FL McDougall and RJ Noble.
ER45/2/2/6
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1946
Series: A1067
Food and Agriculture Organization: first Conference reports, 1945–46
Reports by JB Brigden and FL McDougall of the first conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization at Quebec (October 1945), report (15 November 1945) of the Australian delegation, and correspondence about publicity in Australia regarding the FAO.
ER46/4/3
Food and Agriculture Organization: inter-departmental committee, 1946
Minutes of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Australian Food and Agriculture Organisation Committee (chair: JG Crawford) and draft Cabinet submissions, correspondence and memoranda on the progress of the FAO and the establishment of national committees. The correspondents include LHE Bury, FL McDougall, DJ Munro and JE Richardson.
ER46/4/5
Department of Health
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1949–62
Series: A1658
Conferences: International Food and Agriculture Organization, 1943–45
Reports, correspondence and cables concerning the Food and Agriculture Conference at Hot Springs, the Interim Commission, the functions of the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Food and Agriculture Organization. The correspondents include JHL Cumpston, HC Coombs, WR Hodgson and JW Burton.
200/2/15 Pt 1
Department of Post War Reconstruction
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1941–50
Series: A9816
International Food Conference, 1943 (5 parts)
Reports, correspondence and minutes concerning the United Nations Food and Agriculture Conference at Hot Springs, the resolutions of the conference, and the organisation of a permanent food and nutrition organisation. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AH Tange, JHL Cumpston, FL McDougall and SM Wadham.
1943/1271
Department of Trade and Customs
PAPERS RELATING TO POST-WAR ECONOMIC MATTERS, 1927–56
Series: A9879
United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, 1943–50
Final Act (3 June 1943) and reports of the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture at Hot Springs and reports of the Australian delegations to the third, fourth, and fifth sessions (1947–49) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Conference.
9203
Prime Minister's Department
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1934–50
Series: A461
Post war reconstruction: food and agriculture, 1942–46
A memorandum by FL McDougall 'Freedom from want of food' and correspondence, cables, and press statements on the Food and Nutrition Conference (May 1943), the Australian delegation, and expenses incurred by McDougall as a member of the Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture. The correspondents include SM Bruce and AS Watt.
H387/1/1
Treasury
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1901–76
Series: A571
Food and Agriculture Organisation, 1944–52
Agenda of the Australian Food and Agriculture Organisation Committee (chair: FW Bulcock) and the Australian Agricultural Council and minutes, cables and parliamentary debates on the creation and activities of the FAO. The correspondents include JB Chifley, PW Nette and HR Woodrow.
1943/2953A
AGENDA PAPERS OF THE INTER-DEPARTMENTAL COMMITTEE ON EXTERNAL RELATIONS, 1942–44
Series: CP184/7
United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, 1943–44
Departmental reports of the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture at Hot Springs (May 1943) and the Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture and a memorandum (19 June 1944) by FL McDougall.
N5/2
HC Coombs
RESEARCH MATERIAL, DRAFTS AND PAPERS OF HC COOMBS, 1922–85
Series: M448
International Monetary Agreement and United Nations Food and Nutrition Conference, 1943–47
Includes memoranda by JM Keynes on the international regulation of primary products (27 November 1942) and EF Penrose on the food problem and the food conference, reports by Coombs (April–May 1943), conference papers, the draft report of the Australian delegation, and a memorandum by FL McDougall on the work of the interim commission.
125

United Nations

In the United States and Britain work began in the early years of World War II on a post-war security system to replace the League of Nations. In October 1943 the United States, British and Soviet foreign ministers issued the Moscow Declaration recognising the necessity of an international organisation for the maintenance of peace and security. In August–September 1944 officials of the three allied powers met at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington and drafted proposals which covered most of the functions that were to be incorporated in the United Nations Charter. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945 Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt envisaged an international organisation dominated by the great powers, with the permanent members of the Security Council being able to veto decisions reached by the majority of members. The United Nations Conference on International Organization opened in San Francisco on 25 April 1945, with 850 delegates representing 50 nations. Four commissions examined the general purposes of the proposed organisation, the powers of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the International Court of Justice. The last meeting was held on 25 June and on the following day the delegates signed the United Nations Charter. In the following months it was ratified by most of the signatory states, including the United States, Britain, Soviet Union, France and China, and the United Nations came into existence on 24 October 1945.

Australian parliamentarians first discussed the question of a post-war international security organisation in July 1944, with the leaders of the three parties all welcoming the Moscow Declaration. In September 1944 the Australian government forwarded its tentative views to the British and New Zealand governments, including the need to clarify the functions of the General Assembly and Security Council, create a basis for economic and social cooperation, and set up procedures to handle colonial questions. In April 1945 British Commonwealth meetings were held in London and discussed the Security Council veto, non-permanent members of the Security Council, sanctions, the role of the Economic and Social Council, and trusteeship and the mandate system. The Australian delegation to the San Francisco Conference was led by FM Forde and HV Evatt and included five experts, 11 assistants and 16 advisers. Evatt was a member of the Executive Committee and played a conspicuous role in the conference, particularly in relation to the powers of the General Assembly, domestic jurisdiction, the full employment pledge and trusteeship.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDA, 1941–49
Series: A2700
Australian membership of the Economic and Social Council, 20 October 1947 1400
Department of External Affairs
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1943–44
Series: A989
International organisation: United Nations declarations and commitments, 1944
Publications, newspaper cuttings and correspondence regarding the views of world leaders on a world organisation, including a memorandum (27 March 1944) prepared by the Department of External Affairs for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
1944/735/765/3
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945
Series: A1066
United Nations Conference, San Francisco: proceedings and Australian policy, 1945
Speeches by HV Evatt and FM Forde and reports by HV Evatt regarding amendments to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, the development of Australian policy at the San Francisco Conference, Australian representation on committees, the United Nations Charter, trusteeship and voting in the Security Council.
H45/771/1
United Nations Conference: amendments to Dumbarton Oaks proposals, 1944–45
Amendments to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals submitted by various national governments, including Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, France, the Netherlands and China.
H45/771/2
United Nations Conference: Economic and Social Council, 1945
Memoranda and cables on the establishment of the Economic and Social Council, views of Commonwealth departments and the work of committees of the Preparatory Commission.
H45/771/4
United Nations Conference, San Francisco: papers prepared in Australian legation, Washington, 1945
Papers by M Greene and LR McIntyre on the Inter-American Conference at Mexico City and American opinion on dependent territories.
H45/771/8
United Nations Conference, San Francisco: papers prepared for Australian Delegation, 1945
Additional papers prepared for members of the Australian delegation, including a report on the British Commonwealth meeting in London, questions for consideration and public statements by HV Evatt.
H45/771/9
United Nations: meeting of British Commonwealth representatives, London, 1945
Report (17 April 1945) by FM Forde and HV Evatt on the British Commonwealth meetings on the United Nations proposals, and cables and newspaper cuttings on the London meetings, the future of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice.
H45/772
United Nations: meeting of British Commonwealth representatives, London: papers prepared by Australian Delegation, 1945
Report of a committee of experts on the Dumbarton Oaks proposals and notes (April 1945) prepared for HV Evatt on the General Assembly, Security Council and other proposals.
H45/772/1
United Nations Conference, San Francisco: official comment in Australia, 1945
Notes (28 February 1945) on the San Francisco Conference, notes (29 May 1945) on Australian participation and policy, and draft speeches and press statements on the United Nations Charter and Australia's role in the United Nations prepared for J Curtin, HV Evatt and WP Ashley.
H45/775
United Nations Preparatory Commission: memoranda from Australian delegation, 1945
Letters (August–December 1945) from the Australian delegation in London on the work of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Preparatory Commission, the proceedings of sub-committees, the location of the permanent headquarters of the United Nations and the establishment of the International Court of Justice.
H45/777/2/1
United Nations Preparatory Commission: Australian participation, 1945
Correspondence and press statements concerning activities of the Preparatory Commission in London (November–December 1945) and Australian representation on the commission and at the General Assembly of the United Nations. The correspondents include AS Watt and JW Burton.
H45/777/4/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1946
Series: A1067
Economic and Social Council: inter-departmental correspondence, 1945–46
Correspondence with the Treasury and other departments concerning the first General Assembly of the United Nations and the agenda of the Economic and Social Council.
ER46/3/3
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1947
Series: A1068
Economic and Social Council: Economic and Employment Commission, 1947
Report by EJR Heyward of the 2nd session (2–17 June 1947) of the Economic and Employment Commission and reports, correspondence and cables regarding the commissions established by the Economic and Social Council, a possible resolution on international action on employment, and the economic development programs of the Commonwealth and state governments.
ER47/3/10
Department of Post War Reconstruction
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1941–50
Series: A9816
United Nations Organisation, 1945–47
Includes a letter (30 August 1946) from G Rudduck to KCO Shann on the selection of a site for the United Nations headquarters.
1945/363 Pt 1
United Nations preliminary organisation, 1945–46
Correspondence and minutes concerning the work of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Preparatory Commission in London, the scope and functions of the Economic and Social Council, and the promotion of full employment. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AH Tange, GG Firth and G Schneider.
1945/543
Prime Minister's Department
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1934–50
Series: A461
United Nations Conference, San Francisco, 1945
Correspondence and minutes on the composition of the Australian delegation, travel arrangements and press coverage. The correspondents include J Curtin, HV Evatt, Jessie Street and W Garrett.
FQ326/1/5

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

In January 1945 a conference of Allied Ministers of Education established a committee to consider possible relations among the proposed United Nations, the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation and the International Bureau of Education. At the San Francisco Conference in May 1945 it was decided that the British government should convene a conference to draw up a plan for an international organisation for intellectual cooperation. The conference was held in London in November 1945, with 43 countries represented. It was agreed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) should be set up to promote and organise international cooperation, in collaboration with national and international non-governmental organisations. An Interim Commission, headed by Julian Huxley, had the task of studying urgent reconstruction needs with regard to education, science and culture in countries devastated by war. UNESCO officially came into existence on 4 November 1946 when 20 countries ratified its constitution. The first General Conference was held in Paris in November–December 1946, at which time the United Nations recognised UNESCO as a specialist agency. Huxley was elected the first Secretary-General. Subsequent conferences were held in Mexico City (1947), Beirut (1948) and Paris (1949).

Australia was represented at the November 1945 conference by HV Evatt, ER Walker and HS Wyndham. Australia ratified the UNESCO constitution on 11 June 1946, the fifth country to do so, and RC Mills led the Australian delegation to the first General Conference. At the Commonwealth level, responsibilities for UNESCO activities were shared between the Department of External Affairs and the Commonwealth Office of Education. During 1947, 12 national cooperating bodies were established, covering education, the press, radio, films, libraries, museums, natural sciences, social sciences, music, literature, drama and the visual arts.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDA, 1941–49
Series: A2700
UNESCO, 2 October 1945 954
Ratification of constitution of UNESCO, 25 March 1946 1114
Bill for approval of constitution of UNESCO, 11 March 1947 1114B
Setting up of national cooperative bodies in accordance with constitution of UNESCO, 29 April 1947 1114C
Commonwealth Office of Education
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945–60

Correspondence files of the Commonwealth Office of Education, including files on UNESCO, its relations with the Commonwealth Government, and its advisory and cooperative bodies in Australia.

Series: A1361
UNESCO: Australian National Advisory Committee, 1948–52 16/20/1 Pt 2
UNESCO: Australian National Advisory Committee: minutes, 1948–49 16/20/4 Pt 1
UNESCO: Australian UNESCO Committee for Social Sciences, 1947–60 (3 parts) 16/28/1
UNESCO: education: fundamental education, 1947–59 (2 parts)
Note: Most of the UNESCO files have not yet been examined.
16/42/5
Department of External Affairs
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945
Series: A1066
UNECO, 1945 (2 parts)
Correspondence, cables, minutes and newspaper cuttings on the proposed United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization, the meeting (April 1945) of Allied Ministers of Education, and the views of the inter-departmental committee on education and state governments. The correspondents include JDL Hood, I Milner, LF Giblin, RC Mills, HJ Goodes and K Binns.
H45/703/1/1
UNECO Conference, London, 1945–46
Report (3 January 1946) by JA Seitz of the United Nations Educational Conference in London and correspondence, cables and memoranda concerning the conference, the drafting and ratification of the UNESCO Constitution, and the formation of a Preparatory Commission. The correspondents include PMC Hasluck, I Milner, RC Mills and HS Wyndham.
H45/703/1/2
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1947
Series: A1068
Relief: UNESCO Reconstruction Sub-Committee, 1947
Minutes of a meeting of the UNESCO Reconstruction Sub-Committee and correspondence and memoranda on Australian aid in educational reconstruction in war-devastated countries in the Far East, educational materials and fellowships.
R47/3/9
Department of Post War Reconstruction
CORRESPONDENCE FILES OF THE ECONOMIC POLICY DIVISION, 1944–49
Series: A9790
UNESCO, 1945–48
Reports and correspondence concerning the United Nations Educational Conference in London (October 1945), the formation of UNESCO, the Australian delegations at the UNESCO conferences in Paris (1946) and Mexico City (1947), and the formation of national cooperating bodies. The correspondents include RC Mills and AS Brown.
7251
Prime Minister's Department
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1934–50
Series: A461
UNESCO, 1947–49
Correspondence of JB Chifley with state premiers concerning representation at the UNESCO General Conference and on UNESCO national cooperating bodies.
L326/1/5

World Health Organization

At the San Francisco Conference in May 1945 it was agreed that an international health organisation should be set up to replace the League of Nations Health Organization. The United Nations Economic and Social Council drafted the constitution of the World Health Organization in early 1946 and it was approved at an international health conference in New York in June 1946. Within a short time all member countries of the United Nations ratified it. It formally came into force in April 1948. The first meeting of the World Health Assembly was held in Geneva in June 1948 and appointed G Brock Chisholm of Canada as Director-General. The organisation's first priorities were the control of malaria, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, and the improvement of maternal and child health, nutrition and environmental hygiene.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDA, 1941–49
Series: A2700
World Health Organization, 19 December 1946 1276
Australian participation in World Health Organization, 29 April 1947 1276A
Department of External Affairs
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945
Series: A1066
World Health Organization, 1945
Correspondence and cables on the proposed World Health Organization and its relationship with the United Nations. The correspondents include JDL Hood and F McCallum.
H45/768
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1948–89
Series: A1838
World Health Organization: report by Australian Delegation to International Health Conference, 1946
Report of the Australian delegation, led by HV Evatt and AH Tange, to the International Health Conference at New York (June–July 1946).
860/1/3
World Health Organization: First Assembly, 1948–49
Reports of the Australian delegation to the 1st World Health Assembly at Geneva (June–July 1948) and the 2nd World Health Assembly at Rome (June–July 1949).
860/5/1/1
Department of Health
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1925–49
Series: A1928
Interim Commission and World Health Organization, 1946–48 (2 parts)
Correspondence, minutes, reports and statements concerning Australian participation in the Interim Health Commission, transfer of the functions of the Office Internationale d'Hygiene Publique, ratification of the constitution of the World Health Organization, the drafting of the 1947 World Health Organization Bill, the establishment of the World Health Organization (April 1948), and the agenda of the 1st World Health Assembly. The correspondents include AJ Metcalfe, JW Burton, GM Redshaw and MC Boniwell.
1133/3

South Pacific Commission

At the Wellington conference in January 1944 the Australian and New Zealand governments recorded their intention to establish a South Seas Regional Commission, with advisory powers, to promote the welfare of people in the Pacific. Economic and welfare cooperation in the South Pacific and South-east Asia were discussed at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in April–May 1946 and it was decided that Australia and New Zealand should convene a conference to establish a commission. Delegates from Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States met in Canberra from 29 January to 6 February 1947 and signed an agreement to promote the economic and social welfare, and the advancement of the peoples of non-self-governing territories in the South Pacific (including Dutch and Australian New Guinea). Political and security matters would be outside the ambit of the South Pacific Commission.

The agreement did not come into effect until 29 July 1948, when the last of the six ratifications was received. In the meantime, an interim organisation based in Sydney carried out preliminary work, and a preparatory conference in November 1947 drafted an agenda for the first session of the South Pacific Commission. The first session took place in Sydney in May 1948 and WD Forsyth, an Australian official, was appointed as the first Secretary-General. Subsequent sessions were held at six-monthly intervals, mainly in Noumea. The Commission's Research Council first met in May 1949 and recommended projects in the fields of health, economic development and social development. By 1952 the Commission had approved a total of 43 research projects. From 1965 onwards independent Pacific states became members and by 1983 there were 26 member nations.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDA, 1941–49
Series: A2700
South Seas Commission Conference, 16 January 1947 1286
South Pacific Commission, 25 February 1947 1286A
Department of External Affairs
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1948–89
Series: A1838
South Pacific Commission: relations with United Nations, 1946–62
Correspondence, cables and minutes on possible cooperation between the South Pacific Commission and the United Nations and its agencies, the precedent of the Caribbean Commission, resolutions of the Economic and Social Council and meetings of the commission. The correspondents include JW Burton, TA Pyman and WD Forsyth.
286/1/1 Pt 1
Preliminary arrangements: establishment of Interim Organisation, 1947–50
Correspondence and statements on the establishment of the Interim Organisation, the appointment of JR Kerr as Organising Secretary, staffing, and the School of Pacific Administration.
344/1/1
Preliminary arrangements for establishment of South Pacific Commission: reports by Organisation Secretary, 1947–48
Reports (June 1947 – May 1948) by the Organising Secretary, JR Kerr, and correspondence of JW Burton, TA Pyman, Sir Frederic Eggleston and Kerr.
344/1/7
Preliminary arrangements for establishment of South Pacific Commission: preparatory conference, 1947
Report of the activities of the South Pacific Commission Interim Organisation and agenda papers and report of the preparatory conference (27–28 November 1947) at Sydney (chair: JR Halligan).
344/5/3
RECORDS CONCERNING ESTABLISHMENT OF SOUTH PACIFIC COMMISSION, 1943–47

Documents created in the lead-up to the Canberra Conference (28 January – 6 February 1947) and working files of officers associated with the establishment of the commission.

Series: A11531
South Seas Commission, including reports on proposed structure, 1943–46 1
Working file of J Quinn containing cables and drafts on the South Seas Conference, 1947 10
B McLachlan. A critical assessment of the prospects of the South Pacific Commission, 1947 17
Department of External Territories
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1928–56
Series: A518
South Pacific Commission: policy, 1948–49
Proceedings of the 2nd session (October 1948) of the South Pacific Commission and correspondence, minutes and cables concerning the selection of the Secretary-General, staffing, the work program, transfer of the commission headquarters to Noumea and composition of Australian delegations. The correspondents include JR Halligan, JR Kerr, TA Pyman, WD Forsyth and M Manning.
100/1/1 Pt 1
South Pacific Commission: Australian Secretariat and full-time Commission, 1947–52
Correspondence and minutes concerning the appointment of a full-time Australian commissioner, the establishment of a national secretariat within the Department of External Affairs, the roles of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of External Territories in relation to the commission, and research activities of the commission. The correspondents include JR Halligan, FGH Rose and JW Burton.
100/1/2
South Pacific Commission: South Pacific Conference, 1947–49
Summary proceedings of the South Seas Conference (28 January – 6 February 1947) and agenda papers and related correspondence of the second and third sessions of the South Pacific Commission.
100/2/3 Pt 1
South Pacific Commission: Research Council, 1948–49
Briefing papers for delegates to the second session of the South Pacific Commission and correspondence and minutes on Australian nominations for membership of the Research Council, the first meeting (April 1949) of the Research Council, research requirements of Papua New Guinea and projects approved by the Council. The correspondents include JW Burton, WD Forsyth and JR Halligan.
101/1/1 Pt 1
Post war reconstruction: South Seas Regional Commission, 1945–47 (2 parts)
Correspondence, cables and minutes relating to the Canberra conference, non-official representation at the conference, submissions by missionary organisations, discussions with the New Zealand government and the draft constitution for the South Pacific Commission. The correspondents include EJ Ward, HV Evatt, JR Halligan, JK Murray and WE Dunk.
AM815/1/1

Further reading

Carroll, Peter, 'Australia, ECOSOC and the UN specialised agencies', in James Cotton and David Lee (eds), Australia and the United Nations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra, 2012, pp. 147–83.

Cohen, Gerald D, In War's Wake: Europe's displaced persons in the postwar order, Oxford University Press, New York, 2012.

Cotton, James and Lee, David (eds), Australia and the United Nations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra, 2012.

Harper, Norman and Sissons, David, Australia and the United Nations, Manhattan Publishing, New York, 1959.

Hudson, WJ, Australia and the New World Order: Evatt at San Francisco, 1945, Australian National University, Canberra, 1993.

Joyce, RB, 'The South-West Pacific', in Gordon Greenwood and Norman Harper, (eds), Australia in World Affairs 195055, FW Cheshire, Melbourne, 1957, pp. 281–322.

O'Brien, John B, 'FL McDougall and the origins of the FAO', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 46, no. 2, 2000, pp. 164–74.

Phillips, Ralph W, FAO: its origins, formation and evolution, 19451981, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 1981.

Shephard, Ben, The Long Road Home: the aftermath of the Second World War, Bodley Head, London, 2010.

Turnell, SR, 'FL McDougall: eminence grise of Australian economic policy', Australian Economic History Review, vol. 50, no. 1, 2000, pp. 51–70.

UNRRA: the history of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, 3 vols, Columbia University Press, New York, 1950.

Valderrama, Fernando, A History of UNESCO, UNESCO, Paris, 1995.

Ward, JM, 'Collaboration for welfare in the south-west Pacific', Australian Outlook, vol. 1, no. 1, 1947, pp. 17–28.


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