Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)


Participants: Assistant Secretary Hickerson
Mr. James M. Plimsol, Australian Embassy
Mr. David W. McNicol, Australian Embassy
Mr. James F. Anderson, UNI

While Messrs. Plimsol and McNicol were visiting me on another matter, on July 5, 1 took the occasion to impress upon them the seriousness with which we view the question of the United States percentage share of the budgets of the various international organizations. Mr. Anderson described the approach which had been made to the Government of Australia and other governments concerning the United States position on this matter and stressed the fact that the United States share of the FAO budget was a key point in our policy of resisting increases in the United States share until significant decreases had been obtained in other agencies. I pointed out that it was unlikely that we would be able to obtain a decrease in our rate in the United Nations this year and that I felt that until such a decrease was possible that any increases in the other agencies would have very disastrous results in our Congressional relations. Describing my recent experience before the Senate Appropriations Committee, I said that I personally felt that 33⅓% was too high a percentage for the United States to pay in normal times and if and when the time came when the dollar shortage had been alleviated and the economic situation further improved, I felt that the United States should seek to have the percentage ceiling at a lower figure. I said that until that time we could not agree to a general level for all agencies at 33⅓%, pointing out the low rates which we pay in ICAO, ILO, ITU and UPU. Mr. Anderson discussed the matter further with them, pointing out that this was a matter of principle rather than actual money involved, this being highlighted by the fact that the United States Point IV contribution to FAO was twice the amount of the United States contribution and practically as much as the entire FAO regular budget. He pointed out that we seriously felt that there was some danger of Congress appropriating less than the amount assessed the United States if they felt that the United States had been taken advantage of by the Organization unduly raising the United States percentage. In this respect, he stressed the importance of the fact that such action immediately after the ceiling legislation was passed would leave a very sour taste in the [Page 104] mouth of Congress in respect to FAO and international organizations generally.1 Mr. Plimsol said that he felt that 33⅓% was a very proper rate for the United States to pay, but he appreciated our internal situation and he would cable his foreign office explaining the situation and asking for further instructions.

John D. Hickerson
  1. The so-called United Nations ceiling legislation had a legislative history extending into September, when it was enacted into law on September 21 in a joint resolution “… to amend certain laws providing for membership and participation by the United States in certain international organizations” (64 Stat. 902). The limitations imposed were dollar limitations; in fact, the amounts were increased.