840.50 UNRRA/7–245

The Acting Secretary of State to the Attorney General (Clark)6

My Dear Mr. Attorney General: For almost two years the Department has been actively considering the preparation and introduction [Page 1559] of legislation to provide for privileges and immunities of international organizations and their staffs. The UNRRA Council in November, 1943, recommended that such privileges and immunities be accorded, but because of the absence of legislative authority the UNRRA Council resolution has been complied with only in minor respects. The Department is also faced with the necessity of granting privileges to other international organizations which function in this country or which may do so in the future, including the International Labor Organization, the Pan American Union, the Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture7 (and the permanent organization when it comes into being),8 the Bretton Woods institutions,9 the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the United Nations Security Organization.10

In order for international organizations to function effectively, it is essential that they have privileges and immunities similar to those accorded foreign governments with respect to matters such as exemption from taxation, immunity from suit, inviolability of archives, et cetera. On March 28, 1944, the President approved a memorandum from the Secretary of State11 requesting authority to proceed with legislation of this nature. There followed lengthy discussions between the interested offices of the Department and with officials of the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice. A bill which was not altogether satisfactory and which was confined to UNRRA was introduced in the House of Representatives on November 21, 1944, (H. R. 5512, 78th Congress, second session)12 but no action was taken before the end of the session.

I am enclosing a new draft bill11 which has received the approval of the Department of State. It will be observed that under its terms international organizations will receive substantially the same treatment as foreign governments with respect to the matters covered. The officials and employees of such organizations, other than American [Page 1560] citizens, will receive substantially the same privileges as foreign government employees serving in this country. It should be noted that the bill does not provide full diplomatic privileges and immunities for the officials of international organizations.

The provisions relating to tax exemptions have been discussed at length with officials of the Treasury Department, and it is understood that there is general agreement between the two Departments with respect to these provisions.

It is believed that the bill will confer the essential privileges and immunities, although it grants less extensive privileges than does the legislation recently adopted in Great Britain on this subject and less extensive privileges than are accorded in various other countries.

In view of the long delays which have taken place and the increasing urgency of presenting the bill to the Congress as soon as possible, I hope that you may be in a position to indicate at an early date your approval of the proposed bill.

Sincerely yours,

Joseph C. Grew
  1. An identical letter was sent on the same date to the Secretary of the Treasury (Morgenthau).
  2. The Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture came into being as a result of the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, Hot Springs, Va., May 18–June 3, 1943; see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 820 ff.
  3. With the first meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Interim Commission was terminated on October 16, 1945. See International Organizations in which the United States Participates, 1949 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1950), p. 36.
  4. Reference here is to the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. For documentation on the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, July 1–22, 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 106 ff.
  5. See pp. 1 ff.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Congressional Record, vol. 90, pt. 6, p. 8306.
  8. Not printed.