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TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS
Encouraging advances were made during 1948 in the activities of existing international organizations in the field of transport and communications and toward the creation of one new organization—the proposed Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization, to meet the needs of the world for international cooperative action in transport matters.
United Nations responsibility for development and coordination in the fields of transport and communication is centered in the Transport and Communications Commission of the Economic and Social Council, with specific problems being handled by the appropriate specialized agencies and regional economic commissions.
Of the matters coming before the Transport and Communications Commission during 1948, those relating to the coordination of activities in the fields of aviation, shipping, and telecommunications in regard to safety of life at sea and in the air; inland transport in Asia and South America ; simplification of passport formalities; and an international road-traffic treaty were outstanding.
With regard to coordination of sea and air safety activities, a meeting of experts held in 1947 at the suggestion of the Transport and Communications Commission had recommended procedures to be followed by the specialized agencies concerned--the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCo), the World Meteorological Organization (Wmo), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)in achieving effective coordination. The Commission approved the recommended procedure as the initial basis for cooperative endeavor among this group of organizations whose operations had heretofore not been subject to over-all coordination.
With regard to passport and frontier formalities, the Commission recommended that all member governments be encouraged to take constructive action consistent with recommendations of a meeting of experts convened the previous year at the suggestion of the Commission. The Commission's purpose in this field is the removal of barriers to freedom of international travel so that travel will help draw the peoples of the world together socially and economically.
The need for a world-wide up-to-date road and motor-traffic convention was considered sufficiently important to justify calling a conference for this purpose in 1949. Preliminary work has already been accomplished on this subject, and the outlook for a new convention simplifying and facilitating international automobile travel is bright.
Of great interest in this whole field is the inauguration in 1948 of
the Transport and Communications Review, published quarterly by the Transport and Communications Division of the United Nations Secretariat.
In connection with the activities in the transport field of the regional economic commissions, mention should be made of the outstanding success in simplifying international travel and the movement of goods achieved through the Inland Transport Committee of the Economic Commission for Europe. This Committee has been successful in doing away with numerous frontier restrictions on European through truck and bus services and in having essential international highway routes designated.
In the light of the success of the inland-transport program of the Economic Commission for Europe, the Transport and Communications Commission recommended that similar procedures be followed by the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) and the Economic Commission for Latin America (Ecla).
The development of adequate safety standards at sea was effectively advanced through the adoption in March 1948 of an agreement to establish a world shipping organization to be known as the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization and by the conclusion of the 1948 convention on safety of life at sea, revising the previous convention of 1929.
The convention of the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (Imco) was concluded at a Conference convened in February 1948 by the Economic and Social Council. The Conference succeeded for the first time in bringing to substantial agreement the various interests of large and small shipping nations, of nonshipping nations and of nations with large stakes in international commerce. The new organization, which is in part an outgrowth of a succession of wartime and postwar emergency bodies, will have primary functions (a) in the field of maritime safety, including certain functions delegated to it under the 1948 convention on safety of life at sea and (6) in the field of economics, relating to the removal of discriminatory action and unnecessary restrictions by governments and to matters concerning unfair restrictive shipping practices in connection with which its work will relate to certain functions of the proposed International Trade Organization.
The Preparatory Committee of the projected shipping organization has already met and made provisional plans, including the proposal of a minimum budget, to go into effect when the convention has been ratified. The interim secretariat functions of the organization are being performed by the United Nations Secretariat under a special agreement.
Imco will become a specialized agency of the United Nations under an agreement already approved provisionally by both the General Assembly and the Imco Preparatory Committee.
COORDINATED ACTION TO MEET WORLD
The concerted measures taken under United Nations auspices in 1948 to meet the world food crisis illustrate the way in which the various organs and agencies within the United Nations system can be used jointly in attacking a common problem.
The project for joint action to meet the food crisis began with a report to the Sixth Session of the Economic and Social Council by the Fao stressing the continuing and critical nature of the world food problem; noting the complex nature of the problem, which involved not only questions of agricultural technology, but the supply of agricultural requisites, and of manpower, finance and monetary conditions, health, and in fact every aspect of the economic work of the United Nations and its specialized agencies; and suggesting that broader collaboration among governments and international agencies was necessary.
In the light of this report and of supplementary information submitted by the Fao, the Council recommended that national governments "give serious consideration to the continuing world food shortage” and called upon the specialized agencies and the regional economic commissions, together with the Fao, “to study suitable measures to bring about an increase in food production by the elimination of supply shortages” which affect the production of agricultural requisites.
A special report presented by the Fao to the Seventh Session of the Economic and Social Council recorded progress toward realization of the purposes of the resolution. The FAo reported (a) "direct governmental action either through national programs or international cooperation", and (6) "technical advice and assistance in furthering agricultural development”. The allocation of scarce foods and fertilizers (cereals, fats and oils, rice, cocoa, and nitrate fertilizers) was continued under the auspices of the International Emergency Food Committee of the Fao Council. The Fao is continuing its work to avoid food losses through infestation, destruction by locusts, and rinderpest, and to increase food production. The regional economic commissions of the Economic and Social Council in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America have set up joint working groups with Fao to study bottlenecks in the production and distribution of agricultural requisites (e.g. fertilizers, machinery, and the like). The International Labor Organization is giving attention to agricultural production problems in connection with its manpower and technicaltraining programs. The World Health Organization, in carrying out its antimalaria campaign, is making especially intensive efforts in regions where food production is suffering seriously from lowered output due to the heavy incidence of malaria.
Fao will make a further progress report on coordinated action to meet the food crisis to the Eighth Session of the Economic and Social Council in 1949.
Related to the action of the United Nations in connection with the food crisis was an item placed on the agenda of the General Assembly at its Paris session by the Polish Government with respect to the problem of wasting food in certain countries. In discussing the item the Polish Representative dealt more with the world food situation in general terms than with the problem of food wastage. The Polish resolution, while drawing attention to the need to avoid food wastage and increase surpluses available for export, called for special consideration by the Economic and Social Council of the problem of technical and financial aid for underdeveloped or war-devastated countries to enable them to increase their agricultural production and improve marketing and distribution facilities, and for examination by the Council of other ways and means which might guarantee the realization of the objectives set forth in the resolution. The General Assembly disposed of the item by adopting a resolution substantially reaffirming the desirability of the studies and measures already undertaken under the guidance of the Economic and Social Council.
TRADE DISCRIMINATION; TRADE BETWEEN
EASTERN AND WESTERN EUROPE
During the Third Session of the General Assembly the Foreign Minister of Poland attacked United States export controls, the European Recovery Program, and the principles concerning nondiscrimi. nation in trade matters contained in the Habana charter for an International Trade Organization. Similar attacks were repeated by other Eastern European delegates during the long debate on this item.
The United States Representative took the lead in meeting these attacks with statements referring to the efforts of the United States and other countries to promote the rule of nondiscrimination in trade, culminating in the provisions contained in the Habana charter, and explaining the nature, purposes, and operation of the export controls maintained by the United States in respect of products in short supply, products needed to carry out the European Recovery Program, and products subject to export control in the interest of national security. He defended the application of these controls in respect of exports to Eastern Europe in particular, on both supply and security grounds, and dealt with specific complaints concerning export licenses held up or denied for shipments to that area. He also refuted the charge that the Economic Assistance Act of 1948 and the economiccooperation agreements with countries participating in the European Recovery Program required those countries to discriminate against Eastern Europe in respect of exports. He stated that, on the contrary, it is a recognized object of the European Recovery Program to expand to the fullest peaceful trade between Eastern and Western Europe. Finally, he pointed out that the Polish resolution, while couched in general and seemingly mild terms, actually was an attack on United States export policy, another attempt to discredit the European Recovery Program, and an effort to undermine the traditional principle of nondiscrimination embodied in the Habana charter and in many previous agreements concerning international trade.
Representatives of Western European countries expressed views similar to those advanced by the United States Representative and specifically rejected the allegation that they were under obligation to govern their exports to Eastern Europe in accordance with United States directives.
Other delegations, representing a wide geographic distribution, spoke in opposition to the Polish resolution on one ground or another.
The General Assembly finally decided to take no action on the Polish resolution or on other related resolutions and amendments.
Social and Labor Questions
Advances along many fronts took place in the social and labor fields in 1948. Of chief significance were the formal establishment of the International Refugee Organization and the intensification of its program; the successful completion of the first full year of operations of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund; the simultaneous effort to assist the world's needy children through the United Nations Appeal for Children; and the continuation of the United Nations program of advisory social-welfare services for governments. Less publicized, but important in laying a pattern for future action, was the adoption by the Economic and Social Council of a constructive and clear-cut program for work by the United Nations in the field of social welfare in 1948–49. Building on previous years of achievement in practical international control, the United