DECEMBER 23, 1955
NEW YORK—Early this week I attended the Executive Committee meeting of the United States Committee for the United Nations. This committee was created in 1948 by the State Department in response to a resolution passed in the U.N., which requested every nation to celebrate October 24 as United Nations Day.
At first the State Department appointed a chairman every year and the committee consisted of representatives of organizations interested in the U.N. but not having the U.N. as the main objective. Those early committees were not membership organizations, nor were they permitted to go beyond the mandate of getting the cooperation of governors of states, mayors of cities and organizations to get a nationwide observance of U.N. Day.
After a few years, however, it became evident that unless some arrangement could be made to preserve the record of work done from year to year and keep in contact with the mayors and any replacements that might come about during the year, valuable time was lost. Therefore, it was urged that it would be wiser to raise a small fund of money and keep an executive director and one secretary constantly on the job. This seemed a modest and easy thing to do and the lines of work did not conflict in any way with other organizations.
As time went on, however, it was natural for the office of the executive director to want more to do. So, from giving information about U.N. Day it gradually expanded to the point where it has been giving information on general U.N. matters, as requested, all year round. People who became accustomed to getting information on U.N. Day began to make requests the year round relating to various aspects of the U.N. until now the executive director has a considerable organization in Washington and maintains a small staff in New York.
Last year the name of this office was changed to the U.S. Committee for the U.N., which is not very different from the American Association for the U.N. The fundamental difference between the two organizations is the fact that the AAUN is a nongovernmental organization and the U.S. Committee for the U.N. is a semi-official Committee. The AAUN, therefore, can take independent positions and sometimes does educate for viewpoints and also does ask for its members' and chapters' opinions.
Both committees are educational in their objectives, but the U.S. Committee never takes a position on anything. The AAUN is a membership organization, creating chapters as widely as possible throughout the country and disseminating information as much as it possibly can through its chapters to individuals. This is a basic difference—in fact, so much so that the U.S. Committee has now decided that it is impossible for the two groups to cooperate, even in fund-raising.
Much to my regret, apparently no basis of joint operation can be worked out, even where fund-raising is concerned. I fear this will create in the public mind considerable confusion. I fear the public will feel that two organizations working for the U.N. will make undue demands. But I also think there is plenty of work for both organizations to do in order to meet the needs of the public, and I hope the two committees will continue to cooperate in the most friendly fashion where there is an opportunity to do so.