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27. RESOLUTION 350 (XII) OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL, MARCH 19, 1951 1
The Economic and Social Council,
Recalling its previous resolutions on the subject of forced labour and measures for its abolition,
Considering the replies furnished by Member States to the communications addressed to them by the Secretary-General in accordance with resolutions 195 (VIII) 2 and 237 (IX),
Taking note of the communications from the International Labour Organisation setting forth the discussions on the question of forced labour at the 111th and 113th sessions of the Governing Body,
Considering the rules and principles laid down in International Labour Convention No. 29,5
Recalling the principles of the Charter relating to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Deeply moved by the documents and evidence brought to its knowledge and revealing in law and in fact the existence in the world of systems of forced labour under which a large proportion of the populations of certain States are subjected to a penitentiary regime,
1. Decides to invite the International Labour Organisation to co-operate with the Council in the earliest possible establishment of an ad hoc committee on forced labour of not more than five independent members, qualified by their competence and impartiality, to be appointed jointly by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Office with the following terms of reference:
(a) To study the nature and extent of the problem raised by the existence in the world of systems of forced or "corrective" labour, which are employed as a means of political coercion or punishment for holding or expressing political views, and which are on such a scale as to constitute an important element in the economy of a given country, by examining the texts of laws and regulations and their application in the light of the principles referred to above, and, if the Committee thinks fit, by taking additional evidence into consideration;
Economic and Social Council, Official Records, Twelfth Session, Supplement No. 1 (E/1987), p. 9.
2 Resolution of Mar. 7, 1949; ibid., Eighth Session, Supplement No. 1 (E/1310),
3 Resolution of Aug. 5, 1949; ibid., Ninth Session, Supplement No. 1 (E/1553), pp. 30-31.
4 See U.N. docs. E/1671 and E/1884.
5 Convention of June 28, 1930, as revised Oct. 9, 1946; United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 39, p. 55.
(b) To report the results of its studies and progress thereon to the Council and to the Governing Body of the International Labour Office; and
2. Requests the Secretary-General and the Director-General to supply the professional and clerical assistance necessary to ensure the earliest initiation and effective discharge of the ad hoc committee's work.
28. RESOLUTION 740 (VIII) OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, DECEMBER 7, 19531
The General Assembly,
Recalling the determination of the peoples of the United Nations under the Charter to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person,
Regretting that the Economic and Social Council at its sixteenth session was unable to consider the conclusions contained in the report 2 of the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour,
Considering that systems of forced labour constitute a serious threat to fundamental human rights and jeopardize the freedom and status of workers in contravention of the obligations and provisions of the Charter of the United Nations,
Observing that the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour has now been placed on the agenda of the seventeenth session of the Economic and Social Council and of the 123rd session of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office,
Considering that in view of this delay there is still time for certain governments which have not yet done so to provide information in response to the Ad Hoc Committee's request for comments and observations on the allegations concerning them,
1. Affirms the importance which it attaches to the abolition of all systems of forced or "corrective" labour, whether employed as a means of political coercion or punishment for holding or expressing political views or on such a scale as to constitute an important element in the economy of a country;
2. Invites the Economic and Social Council and the International Labour Organisation, as a matter of urgency, to give early consideration to the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour at their next sessions with this aim in view;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to consult with governments which have not yet found it possible to provide information in response to the Ad Hoc Committee's request to the effect that they
1 General Assembly, Official Records, Eighth Session, Supplement No. 17 (A/2630),
2 For the full text of the report, see U.N. doc. E/2431, May 27, 1953; the conclusions of the committee also appear in Department of State Bulletin, Aug. 10, 1953, pp. 167-175.
submit such information before the seventeenth session of the Economic and Social Council so that these replies may be brought to the attention of the Council;
4. Requests the Economic and Social Council to report on forced labour to the General Assembly at its ninth session.
29. RESOLUTION 842 (IX) OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, DECEMBER 17, 1954 1
The General Assembly,
Having noted Economic and Social Council resolution 524 (XVII) of 27 April 1954 concerning the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour,
1. Endorses the condemnation by the Economic and Social Council of the existence of systems of forced labour which are employed as a means of political coercion or punishment for holding or expressing political views, and which are on such a scale as to constitute an important element in the economy of a given country;
2. Requests the Economic and Social Council and the International Labour Organisation to continue their efforts towards the abolition of such systems of forced labour;
3. Supports the Council's appeal to all Governments to re-examine their laws and administrative practices in the light of present conditions and the increasing desire of the peoples of the world to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person;
4. Expresses its satisfaction with the action taken by the Economic and Social Council in requesting the Secretary-General and the Director-General of the International Labour Office to prepare a further report on this subject for consideration by the Council at its nineteenth session, setting out:
(a) Whatever replies are received from Governments in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 740 (VIII) of 7 December 1953,3
(b) Any new information on systems of forced labour which might be submitted by Member States, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations in consultative status, together with any comments submitted by the Governments concerned.
1 General Assembly, Official Records, Ninth Session, Supplement No. 21 (A/2890),
2 Economic and Social Council, Official Records, Seventeenth Session, Supplement No. 1 (E/2596), p. 11.
Prisoners of War
30. REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS AD HOC
1. The Ad Hoc Commission on Prisoners of War, established under the terms of General Assembly Resolution 427 (V) and consisting of Mr. J. G. Guerrero, Vice-President of the International Court of Justice, as Chairman, Countess Bernadotte, and Mr. Aung Khine, Judge of the High Court of Burma, convened for its third session on 26 August 1952 at the European Office of the United Nations, Geneva.
2. Mr. King Gordon was Secretary of the Commission.
3. The Commission held three public meetings and fifteen private meetings and was in session from 26 August to 13 September 1952.
4. Independently of its report to the Secretary-General on the work of its third session as a whole, the Commission has decided to consult the Members of the United Nations on a special aspect of its terms of reference under General Assembly resolution 427 (V) of 14 December 1950.
5. It appears from paragraph 3 of this resolution that the Commission would only be in a position to bring its work to a successful conclusion if it received the co-operation of all the governments concerned in its task of settling the question of the prisoners of war in a purely humanitarian spirit.
6. From the outset, at its first session held at New York from 31 July to 15 August 1951, the Commission tried to win the confidence of all the governments by informing them of the way in which it interpreted its humanitarian task. During that session it asked governments to give it their assistance, particularly in the following
(a) Transmission to the Commission of any information which it may deem necessary to request from the governments concerned with a view to facilitating the accomplishment of its task;
(b) Transmission to the Commission of any suggestion which would come within the framework of its mission;
(c) The establishment of direct contact between the Commission and representatives of the governments concerned.
7. In reply to a special invitation to consult with the Commission addressed to certain governments specially concerned with the problem of prisoners of war the Governments of Australia, Belgium,
1 U.N. doc. A/AC. 46/10, Sept. 12, 1952.
2 Resolution of Dec. 14, 1950; General Assembly, Official Records, Fifth Session, Supplement No. 20 (A/1775), p. 45.
France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America signified their readiness to collaborate with the Commission in its work, and sent representatives to the second and third sessions, held in Geneva in February and August 1952. The only government from which the Commission has had no reply is that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.1
8. In the course of its second session the Commission, not having received from the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics any of the information specified in paragraph 2 of the Resolution of the General Assembly, again approached that Government and asked it to furnish the Commission with a list of the names of prisoners of war who had died in its custody. In a letter dated 9 February 1952 addressed to the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the Commission recognized that owing to the devastation of war certain relevant records and archives might have been destroyed; and consequently it requested the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to furnish it with as complete a list as possible of such deceased prisoners of war and at least with a list of those prisoners who had died since 1947.
9. In accordance with a decision taken at its second session (A/AC.46/8, paragraph 18) the Chairman addressed letters dated 18 April and 31 July 1952 to certain governments that were detaining prisoners of war on charges of war crimes or under sentence for such crimes, requesting them to send it such detailed information as the following:
The Governments so addressed were the following: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway, Philippines, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Yugoslavia. On 31 July 1952 a reminder letter was despatched to the same Governments.
10. The Commission has received no response to these requests for information from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
11. The Commission is obliged to state, therefore, that its attempts to obtain the co-operation of the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have been unsuccessful. Consequently the Commission has regretfully come to the conclusion that it is unable to perform the basic task for which it was set up, namely, to settle "the question of the prisoners of war in a purely humanitarian spirit and on terms acceptable to all the Governments concerned”.
1 In this connection, see infra, pp. 2059-2066.