310. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of International Administration, Bureau of International Organization Affairs (Westfall) to the Assistant Secretary (Cleveland)1


  • Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Mr. Schnyder, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will be in Washington for 3 days beginning April 11. A briefing paper will be sent to you prior to that date. One item which Mr. Schnyder will wish to discuss with you is the appointment of a Deputy High Commissioner. The following information is being sent to you now in order to provide time for such consultation and discussion as you deem necessary.


James Morgan Reed (U.S.) was Deputy UNHCR from 1951 until his resignation to become President of Wilmington College (Ohio) on October 1, 1960. Since Dr. Auguste Lindt (Swiss), who was the UNHCR at that time, was about to resign to become Swiss Ambassador to the [Page 675]U.S., he took no action to fill the vacancy. Felix Schnyder (Switzerland) was elected by the 15th General Assembly to serve as UNHCR from February 1, 1961 to December 31, 1963, which is the terminal date for the present UNHCR mandate.

Recent Developments

Since assuming office on February 2, 1961, Mr. Schnyder has been considering the appointment of a Deputy. Through our Resident Delegation in Geneva he was recently advised of our interest in having qualified Americans at reasonably high levels in all international organizations, and that we are interested in having a U.S. national appointed to the “traditionally” American post of Deputy UNHCR. He was also told of our willingness to recommend a candidate or candidates for the position if this was agreeable to him. His reply was to “welcome U.S. interest” and to indicate that he planned to discuss the matter when he came to Washington. Mr. Schnyder stated that he is trying to conceive of the structure of his office in terms of present and future activities which he sees as being rather different from those undertaken to meet “classic” European refugee problems. His preliminary thinking is that Afro-Asians should have stronger representation on the staff. He suggested that one approach might be to appoint an Afro-Asian as consultant and see how he worked out. The implication was that if successful he would become Deputy.

Miss Aline Cohn, U.S. Representative of the UNHCR, has reported informally her understanding that Mr. Schnyder has already “offered” the Deputy position to Prince Sadruddin Khan (Iran). If Prince Khan “accepts” Miss Cohn thought it would be very difficult for Mr. Schnyder not to make him a formal offer. For obvious reasons, Miss Cohn does not want to be quoted on this although she has spoken to Prince Khan and believes her information to be correct.

In view of the above developments no attempt has been made to “select” a well qualified American to present to Mr. Schnyder as a candidate for Deputy UNHCR. The Department has, however, assembled a list of candidates for the position, some on the basis of direct application and others based on recommendations. Other qualified candidates could be found among our foreign service and departmental staff.

For your information, Mr. Roger Jones in a conversation with Mr. George Warren, Sr. expressed the opinion that the U.S. should make a strong effort to have Mr. Schnyder appoint an American as his Deputy.


That you discuss the matter of the Deputy position with Mr. Jones before your meeting with Mr. Schnyder at 4 p.m. on April 12. In [Page 676]your conversation with Mr. Jones you might indicate that the extent to which we can “push” for an American as Deputy UNHCR will depend upon developments during your meeting with Mr. Schnyder.
If Mr. Schnyder is committed to Prince Khan it would not appear to be in the U.S. interest to pressure Mr. Schnyder to appoint an American. (You will recall that you met Prince Khan at the Blair House Luncheon for Dr. Veronese. Prince Khan is “western” in his orientation and would be acceptable to us if we could not arrange for the appointment of an American.)
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1960–63, 324.8411/3–3161. No classification marking. Drafted by Elmer M. Falk (IO/OIA).