Minutes of Twenty-eighth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Paris, December 7, 1951
[Here follows list of persons (49) present.]
1. Scale of Assessments of Apportionment of UN Expenses.
Mr. Vorys began a discussion of the latest developments on the contributions problem. He recalled the proposal that had been made at a previous Delegation meeting as a solution to this problem. He, Mrs. Roosevelt and Mr. Mansfield had discussed that proposal with the Congressmen who had been in Paris during the past week. The great majority had felt that this proposal was not possible from a Congressional point of view, especially that aspect of it which would have required the Congress to appropriate for 18 months in advance. Mr. Vorys had been inclined to agree with their estimate of the general [Page 199] temper of Congress. He therefore suggested to the Delegation that its position should be to speak to the members of Committee Five and indicate we wanted to proceed with the plan to reduce the US contribution to one-third of the total budget, in line with the previously expressed intention of the GA UN. For this purpose the US would indicate that it would probably have to oppose the recommendations of the Committee on Contributions. He and Mr. Hall felt that if this position were made known early enough in the general debate on this subject, other delegations might well come up with some compromise proposal on which the US could abstain rather than cast a negative vote. He did not believe that the US should vote for anything which would cause the US contribution to exceed the one-third, or in any other way commit the US in violation of the present law. On the legal point of what would “commit” the US to a particular course of action, he felt that approval of the Charter originally was what had made this commitment. While the US should not initiate discussion on the matter of its domestic legislative requirements, if the point were raised, the US should say that it would abide by what the UN had said it should pay, under the GA resolution of 1948, limiting the US to the one-third.
In other words, Mr. Vorys advocated the tentative position that the US could not support the report of the Contributions Committee and would try to obtain, by an indication of its opposition, certain compromises which would or might allow it to abstain. If no changes or compromises were forthcoming, we might still wish to abstain, but would have to reconsider our position in the light of future developments. The Committee Five Schedule called for a vote on this matter by the following Monday or Tuesday.
Mr. Sandifer asked whether Mr. Vorys’ ideas included the possibility that the US could give indications, in the course of corridor discussions, of encouragement to proposals somewhat along the lines of the plan he had suggested at a previous meeting. This plan had been to approve the report if a proviso were obtained from the GA that the US contribution would be reduced to 33⅓ percent next year. He felt that the US would have to give some encouragement along these lines to obtain, more favorable reception to its proposal. Mr. Vorys said that he and Mr. Hall had agreed to take the position of sticking to the one-third, and that otherwise the US would want to oppose the Report of the Contributions Committee. This should be indicated at an early stage so that compromises would be possible. He had preferred the 18 months’ appropriation proposal since it would solve the additional problem of the Working Capital Fund. He did not want to have to accept a compromise proposal which would require the US to give a favorable vote commiting it in excess of one-third. He felt the US should avoid having to debate in Congress whether its affirmative vote on any particular proposal “committed” the US to anything.[Page 200]
Mr. Sandifer wondered what kind of line Mr. Vorys would take both before and after he had made the US statement in Committee 5 as to the kind of compromise proposals the US would accept, as modifications of the report of the Contributions Committee. Mr. Vorys said that he would indicate that the US reduction to one-third would require some four per cent of the budget being spread around among the other countries. Mr. Hall said that the UK had indicated that it would be willing to consider raising its own contribution to take over part of a US reduction, in order to avoid a rupture in the Committee. Mr. Hall felt that other delegations would come up with similar offers. Somewhere along the line we would have to give encouragement to such compromise proposals.
Mr. Vorys was torn between what the UN ought to do and what it was possible to obtain. He disliked having the US forced to pick up the largest portion, of all checks by the blithe action of many small countries in voting for certain programs or recommendations which cost them next to nothing. He therefore advised the delegation to await the reactions of others as indicated by their speeches in Committee. This would give the delegation something concrete to show Congress when and if we were forced to explain the US Delegation position on this subject, and why it had not been possible to obtain exactly what Congress wanted.
Mrs. Roosevelt summarized the discussion as follows: the position of the US Delegation would be to seek reduction of the US Contribution to 33⅓%, to obtain the reactions of other delegations to this position, and to consider the possibilities of abstaining if some compromise formula could be worked out.1
[Here follows discussion of another agenda item.]
- A close reading of this summarization was cabled to the Department of State as a Delegation decision in telegram Delga 565, December 8, 1 p.m., not printed (320/12–851).↩