Department of State Instruction to the United States Delegation to the Sixth Regular Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations2
Scale of Assessments for the Apportionment of the Expenses of the UN
Report of the Committee on Contributions
The United Nations Committee on Contributions has recommended a reduction for the United States of 2.02 percentage points (from 38.92% for 1951 to 36.90% for 1952). The Committee recommends adjustments, upward or downward, for 33 countries including an increase of 2.87 percentage points for the USSR (from 6.98% to 9.85%). The Soviet member voted against the proposed scale in the Committee and has publicly attacked the reduction proposed for the United States.
Under the terms of the Congressional appropriation act for fiscal year 1952 the Department is directed to consult with the two appropriations committees before committing the United States to a contribution to an international organization in excess of 33⅓ percent. The Department is proceeding with such consultations in regard to the United States contribution to the United Nations. What position [Page 167] should the United States Delegation take on the United Nations contribution scale for 1952?
Contingent upon Congressional consultations, the Delegation should support adoption of the Committee Report. In doing so it should:
1. State that the US is seriously disappointed that the Report does not recommend a much more substantial reduction in the US contribution.
2. Note that its acceptance of the Report is motivated by a desire to avoid an insistence upon changes in the scale which might appear to the smaller and more populous states to require more rapid upward adjustments in their contributions than they may be prepared for, and in recognition of the fact that Soviet obstruction to the accession of new members has denied to the membership an opportunity to soften the impact on other members of U.S. reductions.
3. State that its acceptance of a Committee report which does not recommend a reduction of the U.S. assessment to 33⅓% at this time is based on the assumption that a continuation along the course now firmly set by the Committee will achieve the goal of a 33⅓% assessment for the U.S. in not more than two further annual steps.
The scale of contributions for 1952 recommended by the United Nations Committee on Contributions embodies the most extensive adjustments of any scale to date, both in the number of Members affected (33 against 23 last year), and in the extent of the changes for some members (for the United States, a reduction of 2.02 percentage points against 0.87 last year, and for the U.S.S.R., an increase of 2.87 percentage points against 0.64 last year). However, the Committee again emphasizes its policy of moving “step by step in making adjustments, satisfying itself that the changes recommended are fully supported … [etc.]”. The Committee reports that available statistical information continues to improve but that it is by no means adequate for all countries and that there is room for differences of opinion as to the appropriate method of converting estimates of national income into a common currency.
As to the largest (U.S.) share, the Committee considers that the General Assembly intended a further step to be taken at this time toward the goal of a ceiling of 33⅓%. In recommending a reduction for 1952 for the United States of approximately one-third of the remaining distance to 33⅓%, the Committee states it had in mind its policy of moving gradually and systematically toward the removal of maladjustments in the scale of whatever sort, with adjustment of the United States share taking place at the same pace as adjustments [Page 168] elsewhere in the scale. Although the Committee is not explicit on the point, it is known to have had in mind particularly the progresaive withdrawal of the adjustment for war damage that has kept assessments low, particularly for the Iron Curtain countries. The Committee notes in its report that its recommendation for limiting the changes in assessments in 1952 to one-third of the indicated amounts was arrived at after careful consideration during which some members favored a faster rate, and some favored a slower adjustment. Mr. Stuart Rice (U.S.) is recorded as proposing a full adjustment at once. Mr. Soldatov (USSR) objected both to the increases for the Iron Curtain countries, and to decreases for the U.S., the U.K., and France.
In its recommendations, the Contributions Committee has come a very long way from the position previously taken which produced such small results in terms of the U.S. objective. Previously, the Contributions Committee had limited itself to annual changes of not more than 10% in the assessment of any one country. In contrast, the scale recommended for 1952 results in an increase of over 41% in the assessments of the three Soviet states, and of about 30% in the case of Poland. On the basis of the present level of expenditure, the reduction of 2.02% in the case of the U.S. will mean a saving to the U.S. of some $800,000 and a credit from the Working Capital Fund account of some $400,000 additional. In observing that it has taken account of about one-third of the maladjustments in the previously existing scale, the Committee has established a strong presumption that the U.S. objective of 33⅓% will be achievable in not more than two additional annual steps.
The Soviet member of the Contributions Committee has made strong public objection to the recommended scale, and has made his vote against it a matter of record. He has specifically stated that there should be no reduction in the U.S. assessment—that in fact the U.S. should contribute approximately 50% of the budget. It is expected that the U.S.S.R. will make a strong and bitter attack on the recommendations of the Committee when the General Assembly convenes.
The position of the U.S. in the General Assembly would be greatly weakened if it should join the Soviet Union in opposition to the recommendations of the Contributions Committee. It is anticipated that the Soviet Union’s attack on the recommendations will be in the nature of an assault upon the expertness and objectiveness of the Committee, the integrity of its members and its freedom from U.S. domination. An attack of this character should of itself redound to the benefit of the U.S. through the resentment which it will arouse in other delegations.
Since the recommendations of the Contributions Committee which produce this 2.02% reduction in the U.S. assessment are based on general considerations of improvement in the economic conditions of [Page 169] all member states showing improvement, the reductions accorded the U.S. and certain other members are equated by increases in the assessments not only of states in the Soviet group, but in other states as well. The new scale results in increases for ten states other than the five Soviet states, namely: Afghanistan, Canada, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia.
If the U.S. should reject the Contributions Committee report and insist that a further reduction be accorded, it might attempt to make this claim without upsetting the non-political basis for the Committee’s recommendations by urging that Committee Five go further in correcting acknowledged maladjustments than the Contributions Committee felt inclined to recommend. However, this would mean that the ten states listed would all have reason to feel that the U.S. was pressing for very sudden and sizeable increases in their contributions in a completely unreasonable manner—to the detriment of U.S. attempts to secure support from these same states on matters of great political importance. Further, it would be difficult to avoid the U.S. attack on the Contributions Committee Report being misrepresented as a political attack of the same character as that expected from the Soviet Union.
On the other hand, a U.S. challenge to the Contributions Committee Report which openly brushed aside the objectivity which has been the historical foundation of the General Assembly deliberations on the contribution scale would have a serious unsettling effect on all non-Soviet or satellite states. It is this presumption of objectivity which has permitted all delegations to convince their governments of the integrity of Committee Five recommendations on the sharing of the cost burden. Any attack from the U.S. which seriously damages this presumption would throw into turmoil the entire contribution scale proceedings and would both place in question the early achievement of the U.S. goal of 33⅓% and seriously endanger general support for U.S. political objectives.
- Short title for the master files of the Reference and Documents Section of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State.↩
- The General Assembly was scheduled to convene in Paris on November 6. For information regarding the composition and organization of the United States Delegation, see pp. 2–10 and 37–44.↩