840.50 UNRRA/11–2144

The Assistant Secretary of State (Acheson) to Senator Robert A. Taft

My Dear Senator Taft: I have for reply your letter of November 21, 1944 to Mr. Stettinius39 in which you raise a question as to the interpretation of Resolution 54 adopted by the Council of UNRRA at its Second Session.

Section 4 of Public Law 267 expresses the recommendation of Congress that “insofar as funds and facilities permit, any area (except within enemy territory and while occupied by the enemy) 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 the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration”. From the legislative history of Section 4, it is clear that it was designed primarily to cover the problem of areas which had not been the scene of military operations or directly affected by military operations but which were of importance to the military operations of the United Nations; an outstanding example of such an area is, of course, India and another in the same category would presumably be Iran. However, since the language of the Section as passed by the House was all inclusive, the Senate inserted the parenthetical restriction that the recommendation should not apply to enemy territory prior to its occupation by United Nations forces. As you point out in your letter, this wording at least carries the inference that the Congress wanted to permit operations in enemy or ex-enemy areas after their conquest by our forces.

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It was certainly our intention to put into effect in the UNRRA documents the recommendation of our Congress contained in Section 4 of Public Law 267. We, therefore, proceeded by an amendment of Resolution 1 adopted by the Council at its First Session in Atlantic City41 which sets forth the scope of the activities of the Administration, and specifically of Part I thereof headed “Areas in Which the Administration Will Operate”. You will note that Part I of Resolution 1, a copy of which is attached for your information, contains three sections prescribing certain conditions under which the Administration will operate in (1) liberated areas in which a government or recognized national authority does not yet exercise administrative authority; (2) liberated areas in which a government or recognized national authority does exercise administrative authority; and (3) enemy or ex-enemy areas. These three sections were followed in Resolution 1 as adopted at Atlantic City by a paragraph providing that:

“Nothing in the above should be taken as preventing the Administration from carrying on activities in other areas in order to perform the tasks laid upon it in the Agreement, provided that the government or authority (military or civil) exercising administrative authority in the area concerned agrees.”

It was to this last paragraph that it seemed appropriate to add, by way of particularization, the recommendation of our Congress in Section 4 of Public Law 267 concerning operations in “other areas”, i.e., areas other than areas covered by the three sections of Part I of Resolution 1.

In other words, the basic Agreement and Resolution 1 made provisions for operations in enemy or ex-enemy areas. The Resolution of the Congress appeared, and was in my opinion, directed to another problem, namely, that of authorizing the Administration to operate in areas outside of liberated or conquered countries. If it was the intention of our Congress to recommend the alteration of section 3, Part I of Resolution 1 (as to which no question was ever raised by either the House or the Senate during the detailed consideration of the UNRRA legislation), this was not clear to me; in any case, I am certain that we would have met with great opposition both within this country and from other member governments of UNRRA if we had proposed to the Second Session that UNRRA be authorized to operate in enemy or ex-enemy areas on the same basis as in liberated areas of the United Nations and without prior approval by the Council as provided in section 3, Part I of Resolution 1. The phrase [Page 353] “United Nations area” was used in the amendment to make it clear that it did not relate to the problem of enemy or ex-enemy areas as to which provision had already been made in the same Resolution.

With respect to the specific question of operations by UNRRA in enemy or ex-enemy areas, the Council adopted other resolutions at its Second Session which clearly negate any blanket exclusion of ex-enemy areas from the purview of UNRRA’s operations. The most important of these is, of course, the resolution authorizing the Director General to set aside up to $50,000,000 of the Administration’s resources for certain operations in Italy. Under other resolutions, the Director General was authorized to operate in any enemy or ex-enemy area for the purpose of conducting epidemic control activities and in connection with the care and repatriation of displaced persons of United Nations nationality or persons of any nationality who have been displaced by reason of racial, religious or political oppression.42 Any additional activities of UNRRA in specific enemy or ex-enemy areas will, of course, depend upon action by the Council under section 3, Part I of Resolution 1.

I assure you that it was our intention to give effect completely to the recommendation of the Congress in Section 4 of Public Law 267 and I believe that with the foregoing explanation before you, you will agree that we achieved our purpose.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
  1. Not printed.
  2. For text of Resolution No. 1, “Relating to the Scope of the Activities of the Administration”, see First Session of the Council of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, p. 27.
  3. UNRRA Resolution No. 57 entitled “A Resolution Relating to Operations in Enemy and Ex-Enemy Areas with Respect to Displaced Persons and Epidemic Control”, was adopted by the Council on the motion of the United Kingdom delegation; on the motion of the United States delegation, an amendment to that Resolution was adopted, based in part on a recommendation submitted by Jewish and other interested organizations, which gave UNRRA authority to assist persons, regardless of nationality, who had been obliged to leave their country or place of origin or former residence, or had been deported therefrom, by action of the enemy, because of race, religion, or activities in favor of the United Nations. The Council also authorized the Administration to assist such persons found in the liberated areas (Resolution No. 60).