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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

At the Creation of the U.N., 70 Years Ago

The U.N. Conference, San Francisco, 1945
The conference in San Francisco to create the United Nations convened in San Francisco in April 1945, 75 years ago. 

My Dad was there at the creation, as an employee of the U.S. Budget Bureau, where he had worked before World War II. During the war he worked for the O.S.S.

The conference concluded its work of creating the Charter on June 26, 1945. The U.N. opened in October 1945. Steve Schlesinger noted the anniversary of the Charter; he has devoted much of his life to studying the genesis of the U.N. 

My Dad's job at the San Francisco conference was to assess the reasonableness of the U.N. budget figures and the U.N. contribution. The League of Nations had a rule that no country could contribute more than 25 percent of the League's budget. That rule resurfaced in 1945 but was set aside for the time being. My Dad told me that everyone knew in 1945 that the only country with adequate resources to fund the U.N. was the United States. 

Once the U.N. Charter was completed, my Dad (E. R. "Spike" Marlin) was picked to be the Secretary of the (then-Provisional) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), with the goal of overseeing the rapid growth of civil aviation after the war through creation of international traffic control rules and assistance to those developing new airports.

He worked for the U.N. for the next 20 years, first as ICAO’s Director of Technical Assistance. By the time he left after 17 years, 1,500 of the 1,700 ICAO employees reported to him. He then was appointed Senior Director of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, following which he went to work for the State Department, recruiting Americans for the U.N. We were both in Washington, D.C. in 1964-69.