Functions and composition of the Technical Committee on Refugees – UNCCP 42nd meeting (Jerusalem) – Summary record



Held at the King David Hotel, .Jerusalem,
on 9 April 1949, at 6.30 p.m.


Mr. Yalchin



Mr. de Boisanger


Mr. Ethridge


Mr. Azcarate

Principal Secretary

Memoranda on measures to be taken by the Israeli Government

In reply to a question from Mr. de BOISANGER concerning the manner in which these suggestions should be presented to the Government of Israel, Mr. ETHRIDGE proposed that in the course of his forthcoming meeting with Mr. Comay and Mr. Shiloah he should present the short seven-point memorandum as a communication from the Commission and the longer draft as a suggested basis for a statement by the Israeli Government.

The CHAIRMAN thought that the second. paragraph on page of the longer memorandum should include mention of those nationals of other countries, not refugees, whose properties had been confiscated, and whose rights should be protected in the same way as those of the refugees. He suggested the addition of the sentence: “It is obvious that the property rights of foreign nationals will also be respected.”

Mr. ETHRIDGE pointed out that this was a new question which had not been raised heretofore by the Commission; he thought it might better be raised orally with Mr. Comay.

He did not object, however, since the statement was compatible with the reference in the resolution to property rights under principles of .international law or in equity.

The Commission approved the memoranda as amended.

Functions and Composition of the Technical Mission Refugees (W/9)

1. Functions (Terms of Reference)

Mr. ETHRIDGE thought that paragraph 4 gave far too broad a function to the committee, which should not undertake further technical surveys, in view of the many already in existence, but should simply assemble all available information from governments, private sources, etc. He suggested that paragraph 4 should be cut to read as follows: “To assemble such information, based on previous studies, as may be available from any source… “

Mr. Ethridge also proposed the addition of a paragraph 5: “To study the question and method of compensation.”

Mr. de BOISANGER asked for the addition of a paragraph 6, to indicate that the committee should maintain liaison with the relief agencies in the field and keep the Commission informed concerning the situation of the refugees.

2. Composition of the Mission

The CHAIRMAN felt that the suggested composition of the mission was far too large. He pointed out that the decision concerning what staff was necessary should be left to the director as stated in paragraph 2 of this section; he therefore thought paragraph 3 could be omitted entirely.

Mr. de BOISANGER maintained his view that the three nationalities represented on the Commission should also be represented on the mission. Even though the committee would be primarily a technical mission, he thought it inevitable that it would also have a certain political character, and he was concerned about the reaction of the Arab States. He recalled that at the time the Commission was set up, the Arab Governments had voted in favour of its composition; since the technical committee must inevitably represent the Commission during. its absence from Palestine, he felt that the Arabs would expect it to have to some degree the same composition as the Commission. The essential point was that the committee should have the confidence of the Arabs.

The CHAIRMAN supported Mr. de Boisanger’s view. It was understood, however, that there was no question of setting up a committee of political representatives; technical qualifications would in all cases take precedence.

Mr. ETHRIDGE did not object to the committee’s including personnel of French, Turkish and American nationality. He did feel, however, that the laying of undue stress upon such national representation, as a. prerequisite for recruiting technicians who were to carry out very modest and limited functions, would be most undesirable and even dangerous, and would defeat the purpose for which the committee was being set up, which was the supply of urgently needed information to the Conciliation Commission.

After considerable discussion, Mr. ETHRIDGE proposed the following compromise procedure: that the Commission should cable the Secretary-General that it wished to establish a small technical mission with very limited functions and ask him to propose three technicians, as well as a director.

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