840.50 UNRRA/421j: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Representatives 2

The President signed on March 29 House Joint Resolution 1923 authorizing appropriations to the President of such sums, not to exceed $1,350,000,000 in the aggregate, as the Congress may determine from time to time to be appropriate for participation by the United States in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Consideration of this measure was begun on December 7, 1943, immediately after the termination of the Atlantic City session of the UNRRA Council.4 The principal delay occurred in the reconciliation of differences in language between the versions of the measure as passed by the House and by the Senate. Although the measure passed the Senate with amendments on February 18, the Conference Report was not adopted until over a month thereafter. Copies of the measure will be sent to you by air mail as soon as possible. Although several amendments were added by the House and Senate to the original bill, it is believed that none of these will in practice affect the nature of the activities of UNRRA as defined in the Agreement5 and Council Resolutions.6 However, some formal action will be required by the Council to accept the three formal reservations with respect to our participation which were inserted by the Senate despite the fact that the UNRRA Agreement was technically not before the [Page 332] Congress for its approval. A brief summary of the principal amendments follows:

Section 4 of the resolution as passed states the recommendation of the Congress that insofar as funds and facilities permit, any area (except enemy territory) important to the military operations of the United Nations which is stricken by famine or disease may be included in the benefits to be made available through UNRRA. This is the so-called “India amendment” introduced by Representative Mundt of South Dakota for the purpose of extending the geographic scope of UNRRA’s operations beyond the liberated areas so as to include special situations such as India. It has not yet been determined whether it will be necessary for the United States to propose formal action on the part of the UNRRA Council to clarify the language of the Agreement and the Resolutions so as to make it clear that UNRRA may operate in these areas but in any event the other pertinent principles adopted by the Council will not be affected by this amendment such as the principle that countries which are in a position to pay for relief supplies shall do so and, of course, the principle that UNRRA shall operate within the territory of a member government only after consultation with and with the consent of the member government.

Section 7 states that in adopting the Joint Resolution the Congress does so with the reservation that the rehabilitation activities of the Administration shall be confined to such as “are necessary to relief”. This amendment was inserted by the Senate and, in its original form, its language was ambiguous and potentially more restrictive. The amendment was inserted because of the Senate’s fear that UNRRA might eventually engage in activities of a much wider scope than those connected with relief. It is believed that in practice the reservation if accepted by the Council will not affect the already limited scope of the rehabilitation activities of UNRRA as set forth in the Agreement and Resolutions which limit such activities to such as are connected with the production and transportation of relief supplies and the furnishing of relief services.

Section 8 states the reservation of the Congress that UNRRA shall not be authorized to enter into contracts or contract or incur obligations beyond the limits of its total resources. The purpose of this amendment, which was also inserted by the Senate, is to prevent UNRRA from entering into unlimited commitments for reconstruction or rebuilding, which might constitute a moral obligation on the United States to appropriate additional funds beyond the limits of this authorization.

Another Senate amendment which purported to prevent UNRRA from carrying on educational, religious or political activities was stricken out in conference on the ground that it was unnecessary and might lead to some question as to UNRRA’s ability to train personnel for relief purposes.

The passage and signature of this measure does not result in the appropriation of funds to UNRRA. It is now necessary to introduce [Page 333] a separate appropriation bill7 which will be submitted shortly for hearings before the appropriations committees. While the appropriations will be made to the President, it is expected that he will by Executive Order8 confer the administration of the appropriations on the Foreign Economic Administration.9 It is expected that at this time the Congress will be requested to appropriate $500,000,000 out of the total amount authorized with further authority to transfer for UNRRA purposes a like amount from unobligated lend-lease funds. This formula is being adopted on the theory that as direct relief expenditures increase, lend-lease expenditures will decline. The total sum of $1,000,000,000 is estimated as being the amount necessary to cover the cost of procurement for areas of UNRRA responsibility during the first six months after the termination of the so-called “military period”10 and for certain advance procurement for the following period of UNRRA responsibility in Europe.

It is expected that the bulk of procurement for UNRRA purposes out of the United States contribution will be done by the Foreign Economic Administration either through domestic procurement agencies or, in respect of purchases outside of the United States, by the United States Commercial Company. According to present plans, no actual funds will be made available out of the United States contribution to UNRRA except the United States quota for administrative expenses for this year amounting to $4,000,000.

To date the only government which has completed legislative action with respect to its contribution for UNRRA is the United Kingdom. It is expected that appropriate legislative action will shortly be initiated with respect to the Canadian contribution of around one hundred million Canadian dollars and certain other Dominions are actively making plans for their contribution. Aside from these, the only contribution for operating purposes is a payment on account by Iceland of $50,000. Around $1,300,000 has been received from a total [Page 334] of about twenty-two member governments for administrative expenses.11

The next session of the UNRRA Council will be held in Montreal, Canada, commencing June 23.12 A separate communication will be sent you concerning the agenda for this session as soon as possible.

  1. In Algeria, Australia, Canada, Egypt, the Soviet Union, the Union of South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
  2. Public Law No. 267, 78th Cong., 2d sess., approved March 28, 1944; 58 Stat. 122.
  3. See Department of State publication No. 2040, Conference Series No. 53: First Session of the Council of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, Selected Documents, Atlantic City, New Jersey, November 10–December 1, 1943 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1944).
  4. Agreement signed at Washington, November 9, 1943; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 352, or 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1164.
  5. See First Session of the Council of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.
  6. Public Law No. 382, 78th Cong., 2d sess., Title II, approved June 30, 1944; 58 Stat. 629.
  7. Executive Order No. 9453, July 6, 1944; 9 Federal Register 7637.
  8. Letter of July 6, 1944, from President Roosevelt to the Administrator, Foreign Economic Administration, printed in the First Quarterly Report on UNRRA Expenditures and Operations (H. Doc. No. 803, 78th Cong., 2d sess.), p. 39.
  9. An agreement to regularize the relations between UNRRA and the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force (Eisenhower), during the military period, signed at Paris on November 25, 1944, had for its dual objective facilitation of the transfer to UNRRA of certain responsibilities in the post-military period and the insurance of a continuity of policy in the military and post-military periods. For a summary of this agreement, see United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, Report of the Director General to the Council for the Period 15 September 1944 to 31 December 1944 (Washington, 1945), pp. 16–17.
  10. For statistics on actions taken by member Governments (as of October 1944), see the First Quarterly Report on UNRRA Expenditures and Operations, p. 26.
  11. In accordance with later plans, the second session of the UNRRA Council was held at Montreal from September 15 to September 27, 1944. For membership list of the American delegation, see Department of State Bulletin, September 10, 1944, p. 255.