IO Files

United States Delegation Working Paper


Subject: Contributions to the UN

Some of the points which might be useful in the exploratory conversations requested in this morning’s Delegation meeting are as follows:

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1. The United States has consistently held, since the first General Assembly, that the sovereign equality principle which underlies the Charter of the United Nations requires the more equal sharing of the expenses of the Organization than is reflected in the present contributions scale. The Delegation stated at the first General Assembly that in its view a contribution ceiling of one-third would not violate that principle. There is a relationship between the one-third ceiling and the two-thirds voting principle in the Assembly, and also in most corporations and business enterprises one-third is not considered as constituting a majority control of the enterprise.

2. This principle was recognized in 1948 by the General Assembly in the resolution of principle. The implementation of this resolution has been delayed from year to year in spite of the protests of the United States. The people of the United States have been unable to understand this long delay and are becoming increasingly impatient with the failure of the UN to reduce the United States contribution to 33⅓%.

3. This impatience has been greatly increased over the past year during which the United States has spent many hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of lives in defending the interest of the United Nations in Korea. The United States people are even more perplexed when they examine the Report of the Committee of Contributions which continues in effect the preferential treatment of Eastern European countries as a result of war damages of the second World War, a principle which was established in 1946 and which it was assumed would have been put aside by 1951. This is particularly apparent when one considers the statements of Eastern European states at this session of the Assembly and at the last session of ECOSOC which claim complete recovery from war damages and even boast that the pre-war levels of production in the Soviet Union and its satellite states are being far exceeded.

As a result of all these factors the United States Delegation holds strongly the opinion that this General Assembly should consider very seriously the revision of the Report of the Contributions Committee with a view to the immediate application of the ceiling principle, the upward adjustment of contributions of states presently under-assessed and in cognizance of increased national production.

4. The United States recognizes the economic difficulties faced by many countries of the world, but it should be clear that the question of contributions to the UN is a political and not an economic matter and that the question of economic assistance is one which can best be handled through bilateral relationships between nations. The recognition of this principle by the people of the United States is reflected in the very large economic assistance program contained in the Mutual Security Act. In addition the United States has shown its understanding [Page 190] of the humanitarian problems and economic needs of underdeveloped countries by its large contribution to the Palestine Refugee Program and the Korean Program and its leadership in making contributions to the Technical Assistance Program.

You should generally avoid the question of the law unless it is brought up to you, but if you are questioned about the Congressional action which limits the ability of the United States Representatives to commit the United States Government to any contribution beyond 33⅓%, it would be desirable to state that this action in itself, while important, is primarily reflective of the attitude of the United States people indicated in the first paragraphs above. The Act does not indicate definitively what the attitude of the Congress would be in handling any requests for appropriations which may come from the United Nations in excess of 33⅓%.

If the person to whom you are talking desires a more definitive opinion, you might suggest that you will be glad to arrange for them to talk with Congressmen Mansfield or Vorys who should be able to speak more defintively since they are Members of Congress.