Britain, Canada Join Call to Open UN War Crimes Files to the Public

Britain and Canada joined Israel and 11 other nations Thursday in requesting that the files on Nazi war criminals compiled by the United Nations War Crimes Commission be opened to the public.

The two countries informed UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar of the change in their position Thursday. Only four of the 17 former members of the defunct War Crimes Commission still oppose opening the files. They are France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and India.

Last week Belgium, China, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Norway joined Israel’s request. It had been supported earlier by the U.S., Australia, Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands and Yugoslavia.

Israeli diplomats have noted that while a majority of the former members favors making the files public, final authority rests with the Secretary General. An archive containing 40,000 files on war criminals is stored in a building in midtown Manhattan. Israel has already inspected several thousand files. UN regulations allow member states to do this on a confidential basis.

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