Minutes of Thirtieth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Paris, December 11, 1951
[Here follows list of persons (49) present.]
1. Scale of Contributions to the United Nations
Mr. Hall began the meeting with a discussion of the situation in Committee Five following the excellent speech given by Mr. Vorys the previous day. He reported that the speech had been very well received. The Soviets had paid their usual compliment at this time to the great productive power of the United States which would enable the United States to contribute heavily to the United Nations budget. They indicated they would not support the report of the Contributions Committee because it recommended a reduction in the United States contribution and an increase in the Soviet contribution. They suggested that the report be referred back to the Contributions Committee. The small states said they appreciated the motives which impelled the United States to seek a reduction to one-third, but unfortunately were not in a position to make up the resulting difference. The Indian representative had apparently been carried away with the sound of his own voice and had spoken at great length about why the United States contribution should not be lowered. In fact, he had said, since the United States obtained such great benefits from having the headquarters on its territory, since the United States had not granted United Nations personnel tax immunity and was receiving [Page 203] taxes from the United States Nationals in the Secretariat, and since the Soviets had suffered such great damage during the last war a subcommittee should be appointed to reconsider the scale and this could only result in the United States contribution being raised. He had cast his argument in terms of the under-developed countries as opposed to the developed ones. The former, being unable to contribute very much should therefore be accorded the right to take more out of the United Nations.
The Canadians had suggested that this year the recommendations of the Contributions Committee be accepted with the understanding that next year the scale would be so adjusted that the United States contribution would be reduced to 33⅓%. After the meeting, Canada, South Africa and Australia had reiterated this suggestion, and had indicated their view that acceptance of this proposal and defeat of the Indian proposal would require a great deal of effort. For this reason they felt we should abandon our position of obtaining the reduction to one-third this year and support the Canadian suggestion.
Referring to Delga 596, Mr. Hall said that this telegram contained proposals by the staff on how to approach the problem in Committee 5. The matter of first priority was to obtain a withdrawal of or defeat for the Indian idea that the whole matter be reconsidered with a view to increasing the United States contribution. He planned to talk with B. K. Nehru and see if the Indians could be persuaded to withdraw their proposal. He was not confident, however, that even if Nehru saw the wisdom of such a course, Adarkar, the alternate Indian representative in Committee Five, would follow Nehru’s instructions. The second point in the proposed approach was to introduce a proposal for reduction of the United States contribution to one-third and couple this with an automatic reduction in the overall budget in an amount equivalent to the burden to be assumed by the other governments. Mr. Hall was dubious as to the chances of success of such a proposal but felt it had to be tried as one of the possible alternatives.
If, as he expected, this proposal were defeated, Mr. Hall and the staff recommended that the United States: (a) support the Canadian amendment (which would achieve the reduction to one-third next year); (b) if the Canadian amendment were adopted, abstain on the resolution as a whole which included approval of the report of the Contributions Committee: and (c) if the Canadian amendment were not adopted, vote against the report of the Contributions Committee.
In this connection, Mr. Hall recommended that all the political officers be sure to bring out these points when speaking with other delegations.
Mr. Vorys felt that the second point of this proposal was an improvement over the report of the Committee on Contributions. In addition, he considered that it might be possible, as he had previously [Page 204] suggested, to ask Congress to transfer to the United Nations Technical Assistance program from the bilateral aid program an amount equal to the reduction of the United States contribution. The other delegations all seemed to regard Technical Assistance as a “plum”, and if this added attraction would make acceptance of our proposal more certain, it should be undertaken. He thought that the feelings of other delegations would not be hurt by such a proposal, and at the same time our bargaining position between abstention and a negative vote would be somewhat improved.
Ambassador Gross asked whether the second point of the proposed approach, i.e., cutting the budget, would not have a crippling effect upon the United Nations. It was bound to reduce United Nations activities somewhat, and if its crippling effect would be too severe, the United States ought not to propose it. He cautioned that a practice of attacking the United Nations budget itself could thus be developed by overassessing the United States in the Contributions Committee and then cutting the budget by bringing the United States contribution down to one-third and reducing the over-all budget amount. Mr. Vorys said that he disliked the method whereby the budget was considered not in terms of amounts of money but rather by percentages. Many small countries, he feared, would always, under such a system, favor high budgets in which their proportional contribution would be very small.
Ambassador Gross suggested that it would not be inconsistent to combine points two and three. This would have the effect of establishing a policy for the future, which it would be in our interest to do, while accomplishing those results only in this year’s budget by the over-all cut. Mr. Hall agreed that Ambassador Gross had put his finger on the “bug” in the whole scheme. However, he could not see any other way that other states could be brought around to accepting a United States contribution reduction to one-third.
[Here follows continued and lengthy discussion of the proposal in numbered paragraph 2 of Delga 596, December 10, that the United States propose a cut in the overall United Nations budget in conjunction with the United States request for immediate application of the ceiling principle. At the end of the discussion it was agreed by the Delegation that it was inexpedient from several points of view for the United States to propose such a reduction in United Nations activities.
After this discussion on contributions, the Delegation proceeded to take up another agenda item.]