USSR Distorted UNESCO Resolution to Justify Head Tax Policy

Informed officials here criticized today a Soviet publication for what they called its distortion of an international resolution to justify its exit fees for educated emigrants. The sources, who requested anonymity, described as “weak” and “strained” the argument two weeks ago by the journal Za Rubezhom (Abroad) that the exit tax is sanctioned by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The resolution referred to by Za Rubezhom was contained in the report of UNESCO’s 16th General Conference in 1970. The Conference noted that “the growth of higher education and the raising of its standards in the different countries, especially in the developing countries, are incompatible with the migration of talent, by which scientists are encouraged to leave, or not to return to, their countries.”

Thus, the Conference said, member States should “take appropriate measures to restrict encouragement of foreign scientists to leave, or not to return to, their countries.” Emigration of scientific talent, the report observed, was causing “anxiety” in “some member States.”

The informed sources here, replying to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency inquiry, said the emphasis in the UNESCO statement was on the developing countries, for whom a “brain drain” is a serious problem, and that the Soviet Union “can hardly consider itself a developing country.”

Furthermore, the sources said, this or any other UNESCO resolution cannot supersede the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in Article 13, Section 2, states that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” The 1970 UNESCO statement, one informed source said, “couldn’t by any stretch of the imagination be connected with an exit tax.”

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