At its first session, second part, in 1946, the General Assembly called upon ECOSOC to undertake the necessary studies for drawing up a draft convention on the crime of genocide. The Council instructed the Secretary-General to prepare a preliminary draft with the assistance of experts in international and criminal law. To this end the Ad Hoc Committee on Genocide was formed to work together with the Division of Human Rights. In June 1947 the Secretary-General transmitted the text of the first draft convention to the General Assembly Committee on the Progressive Development of International Law and its Codification. The Committee requested that the Secretariat proceed with the gathering and evaluation of comments from governments. The final text of the draft convention was presented to the General Assembly in 1948. It was completed and ratified in December 1948, entering into force in 1951. It is the first multilateral human rights treaty adopted and opened for ratification or accession by the General Assembly.
The drafting of the covenants on human rights was undertaken in March 1947 by the Drafting Committee, a sub-organ of the Commission on Human Rights composed of eight members. Originally, the drafters intended to create one document covering all rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The initial discussions were based on a Secretariat outline prepared by the UN Division of Human Rights and on a British draft convention.
Very soon it became evident that it would be impossible to develop one system to implement both sets of rights - economic, social and cultural on one hand and political and civil on the other. These records cover this early period of drafting, where the interchange of correspondence between all concerned (the drafters, ECOSOC, the General Assembly, specialized agencies and some NGOs) shows the many divergent views.
The drafting process went on from the 1st through the 10th session of the Commission on Human Rights. In April 1954, the Commission transmitted to ECOSOC and thenceforth to the Third Committee of the General Assembly two draft covenants on human rights. It took the General Assembly 12 more years, until December 1966, to adopt the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Optional Protocol. All three instruments entered into force in 1976.
The records of this series address questions related to stateless persons and refugees and victims of war. They include correspondence regarding the international instruments concerned with refugees and stateless or displaced persons, namely the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
The records of this sub-series attest to the work of the Secretariat in advocating for victims of war on the one hand and in the drafting of international instruments addressing human rights issues in armed conflict on the other. The work of the Ad Hoc Commission on the Protection of Prisoners of War is well documented in the series, as are questions related to the application of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
The largest group of files consists of correspondence and documentation with regard to the plight of the survivors of so-called scientific experimentation in the Nazi concentration camps, a continuation of earlier documentation contained in the SOA sub-fonds.
The United Nations has been concerned with the question of slavery since 1949, when the General Assembly requested ECOSOC to study the problem. In the same year, ECOSOC arranged for the appointment of the Ad Hoc Committee, who reported its findings on the nature and extent of slavery and other institutions resembling slavery in 05.1951. ECOSOC subsequently requested the Secretary-General to obtain additional information on the question and report back in 1953. In 1954, ECOSOC appointed Mr. Hans Engen (Norway) as Rapporteur to prepare a concise summary of all available information on slavery and servitude. The report of the Rapporteur was presented to the Council in 1955.
At the request of the ECOSOC in resolution 960 (XXXVI) the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Mohamed Awad as Special Rapporteur on Slavery to bring up to date the Engen Report by collating existing information on slavery by governments,
The United Nations also arranged in 1953 for the drawing up of a Protocol amending the Slavery Convention of 1926 and for the preparation of a supplementary Convention on the abolition of slavery, the slave trade and institutions and practices similar to slavery. This Supplementary Convention was finalized in 09.1956.
The records relate to the work of the Division on matters related to slavery from 1956 to 1974 and include the collection of material form the Special Rapporteur, allegations of slavery and servitude, and correspondence related to the acceptance by States of the international legal instruments aimed at abolishing slavery and related practices.
In 1953 the UN-ILO Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour submitted to ECOSOC a fact finding document on forced labour which was followed up in 1955 by a second report. In 06.1955 the ILO set up an independent Ad Hoc Committee on Forced Labour to analyze material dealing with the use and extent of forced labour throughout the world. ECOSOC resolution 607 (XXI) in 1956 supported the work of the ILO on forced labour, essentially affirming that the main responsibility for dealing with the question would be vested in the ILO.
In 1956 at the International Labour Conference it was decided to draw up an International Convention on Forced Labour and in 1957 adopted the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention.
The records consist of correspondence and documents related to the work of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the Division of Human Rights in diverse and numerous areas of discrimination, from religious rights and practices to the right of emigration. The Sub-Commission, created in 1947 by the Commission on Human Rights, was empowered to undertake studies and make recommendations to the Commission concerning the prevention of discrimination of any kind relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the protection of racial, national, religious and linguistic minorities.
The records contain working papers and comments and suggestions from governments, specialized agencies, non-governmental agencies and individuals on the drafting of the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The file includes correspondence from groups and individuals with regard to the covenants.
With regard to implementation, from the outset different measures of implementation for the two Covenants were envisaged on the grounds that the nature of the rights and obligations laid down in each Covenant are distinct. The records contain a draft of the paper on implementation prepared by the Division and circulated to governments and specialized agencies for comments, which are included in the records.
The records contain correspondence with regard to the creation of the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights and include submissions from organizations and individuals with comments on a proposal by Costa Rica before the General Assembly. Upon recommendation of the General Assembly, ECOSOC was charged to study all aspects of the concept. The Commission on Human Rights established a Working Group to study all relevant questions concerning such an institution and report back at its next session in early 1967. The Division of Human Rights prepared an analytical and technical study for the purposes of assisting the Working Group to carry out its mandate.
Acting in accordance with the responsibility placed upon it by the Charter of the United Nations, the Economic and Social Council created the Commission on Human Rights on 16 February 1946. The work of the Commission was to be directed towards submitting proposals, recommendations and reports regarding any matter of concerning human rights. The Commission initially consisted of nine members appointed in their individual capacity. Among these were Eleanor Roosevelt, who was elected Chairman, René Cassin, Vice-chairman, and K.C. Neogy of India, Rapporteur.
In 1966, ECOSOC invited the Commission to consider as a matter of importance and urgency the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to submit to the Council its recommendations on measures to halt these violations. The terms of reference of the Commission were thus widened by ECOSOC resolutions 1235 and 1503, which authorized the Commission to take action, under certain conditions, concerning information relevant to gross violations of human rights, contained in communications listed pursuant to ECOSOC resolution 728 F.
The Commission currently has 54 Member States, with membership distributed among the various political and geographic blocs. The Commission's work consists of standard-setting, promotional activities, monitoring and enforcing.
This series consists of records created by the Division of Human Rights relating to the work of the Commission from 1956 to 1969 and covering Sessions 13 through 26.UN NYRegistry