IO Files

Memorandum of a Staff Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Paris, December 1, 1951


[Here follows list of persons (25) present. Congressmen Mansfield and Vorys were present for the representatives of the Delegation. The two Senior Advisers of the Advisory Staff, Messrs. Ross and Sandifer, were present. The sole agenda item was the question of the scale of assessments for national contributions to the United Nations.]

Mr. Ross indicated that the purpose of the meeting would be to examine the soundings made thus far in regard to the contributions matter, and thereafter to consider the memorandum (doc. US/A/C.5/167)1 prepared by Mr. Hall as a basis for continuing these soundings. In view of the revolt of the Latin Americans over the ICJ and SC slates in the past 24 hours,2 it had been practicable to approach any of the Latin American delegations on the contributions matter. Mr. Hall reported that the Soviets seemed to be making the rounds to gain support against the increase in their assessment as recommended by the Contributions Committee.

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Mr. Taylor3 read Mr. Hall’s memorandum. The discussion resulted in deleting the second half of the last sentence in paragraph one, to omit reference to the practices of business enterprises and corporations. There was some discussion as to the appropriateness of relating the matter of voting to that of contribution percentages. Mr. Vorys felt that there was more than a coincidental relationship between the one-third maximum contribution and the two-thirds majority required in the voting.

Mr. Ross suggested that the tone of the second paragraph should be changed to indicate the emphasis on principle which the United States was stressing. If the United Nations expressed itself on principle, the implementation thereof ought to follow without undue delay. This had not been true in the contributions case. Mr. Hall noted the reference to “normal times” in the 1948 General Assembly resolution recommending one-third as the maximum contribution. Many states would argue these were not normal times. He felt the United States should define normal times as a period of stability; such a period existed at the present time.

Mr. Ross suggested broadening the scope of the first sentence in paragraph three to include all international contributions to relief and aid funds, among which that of the United States to Korea, both in lives and money, was by far the greatest. Mr. Lubin also suggested adding an annex containing a few short excerpts from Soviet bloc speeches in ECOSOC on their economic recovery as evidence that preferential treatment of these states in matters of assessment should end.4 Mr. Vorys added that recitals of adherence to United Nations principles in all United States appropriations for foreign aid, together with a willingness to end these programs whenever the United Nations felt them no longer necessary, were indications of United States good faith on this matter. Mr. Hall agreed with Mr. Nolting’s observation that this matter was being cast in terms of the East-West struggle, and that such a development was not strictly desirable. However, he pointed out that in talking with states like India and Pakistan, the argument could be used that their assessments need not be so high if the inequities resulting from preferential treatment to the Soviet bloc for war damages were eliminated as a result of the admitted economic recovery of those states.

Commenting on the second paragraph under number 3, Mr. Ross warned that the United States Delegation had not yet decided to advocate a revision of the Contributions Committee Report and call for immediate application of the 33-⅓ per cent ceiling principle.

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In regard to paragraph 4, Mr. Fisher challenged the naked use of a power-political argument. After some discussion it was agreed to add qualifying words which would clothe the argument in more diplomatic phraseology. The important point contained in the paragraph was that this question should be brought out from the atmosphere of finance-ministries and onto the political plane.

The parliamentary situation applicable to this item was discussed. An element which entered into the formulation of the United States Delegation’s decision would be the reactions of other delegations to the soundings taken by the United States over the weekend. For this purpose it would be important that the political officers be thoroughly briefed on the technicalities involved. Since it would be leading from weakness for the Delegation to indicate the indecision of the United States on this matter, Mr. Sandifer suggested a slightly different approach. We would stress the importance the United States attached to the one-third principle, and the disappointment that the United Nations had been so slow in implementing the 1948 Resolution. In view of the increasing domestic pressure to obtain a reduction to the one-third maximum, especially since United States expenditures on a world-wide basis for foreign aid were so high, the United States was beginning to feel it was nearing the point of diminishing returns. For these reasons, the Delegation wondered how far the time schedule for reducing the United States contribution to one-third could be advanced. Mr. Sandifer felt that it would be impossible to evade the fact that behind this pressure stood the United States Congress. What the Delegation would be seeking was an answer to how an approach could be made toward obtaining the necessary reduction. From the point of view of United States participation in the United Nations, what approach would ensure the best arrangement to achieve this end?

It was agreed that the Delegation would be going too far if it asked other delegations to go back to their governments with questions as to their willingness to increase their or other’s contributions to offset an American decrease. Mr. Hall estimated that a reduction of the United States contribution to one-third of the total would mean an increase of about 4.77% in the contributions of each of the other members. At the same time he felt on the basis of past experience that it would be unfortunate to indicate what a small amount this would be to each country. A thousand dollar increase for example in the contribution of a small country like Guatemala or Paraguay would be much harder to realize than an increase of several hundred thousand in that of the United Kingdom.

After it had been brought out that a reduction of the United States contribution to one-third of the total would only involve about $2 million, various suggestions were offered on how the United States [Page 195] amount in the Working Capital Fund could be charged to the United States contribution to the United Nations itself.

It was generally agreed that only a fair sampling of the opinions and reactions of other delegations was necessary. For this purpose it would be better to spend more time with fewer delegations in order to assure that the United States position was understood. Mr. Ross wanted the political officers to understand that the making of this approach, was just like that for any other matter. Above all, they should not be apologetic and give the impression that talking about money was unpleasant business and that wealthy countries should not be talking to poor ones about cutting down their contributions.

  1. Dated November 30, p. 188.
  2. For documentation regarding these matters, see pp. 78 ff.
  3. Paul B. Taylor, Principal Executive Officer of the Delegation.
  4. This information was incorporated into a Delegation Working Paper, Doc. US/A/C.5/170, December 4, 1951, not printed.