The Acting Secretary of State to the United States Representative at the United Nations ( Austin )
Gadel 64. Dept informed Oct 30 by Fr Emb that French considering proposing GA open for sig a Convention on the Right of Correction, consisting only of Arts 1, 9, 10, 11 and certain of the “Miscellaneous” provisions of Newsgathering Convention. Remainder Newsgathering text wld be abandoned. Fr aide-mémoire 1 follows air pouch.
Dept strongly opposes Fr proposal on grounds:
- US supported inclusion Right Correction provisions in News-gathering text primarily as means attracting support for provisions re correspondents and censorship and despite propaganda risk involved. Since US correspondents outnumber all others, US likely be main target corrections. Moreover correction provisions of little utility. Any govt now able request corrections through diplomatic channels.
- Main objectives Newsgathering Convention are estab intl standard for treatment fon correspondents and limiting censorship outgoing dispatches. By abandoning these objectives Fr proposal wld constitute further setback efforts promote FOI.
- While Fr insist anxious avoid reopening arts as presently drafted, proposal opens door to amendments other Dels seeking transform [Page 812] present essentially voluntary provisions into mandatory ones or possibly even attempting incorporate parts FOI Convention.
Proposal may be maneuver force US reconsider position FOI Convention. USDel shld maintain position as stated recommendations 1, 2 and 3 of SD/A/C.3/144.2
Possible Fr may offer “compromise” proposal to separate News-gathering text into two distinct parts, with new provision for optional acceptance one or both parts. USDel shld strongly oppose since such separation most likely result in activation Eight of Correction and loss of Gathering and Interl Transmission News.
In view difficult negotiating situation, with Fr in position exploit dissatisfaction over ECOSOC decision to shelve FOI Convention, suggest immediate high level approach Fr Del urging they not advance proposal. In addition above arguments, suggest point out proposal likely lead to acrimonious debate 3rd Comite as last year with result other GA issues in which Fr-US interests heavily involved likely be adversely affected. Suggest Amb Austin, in view his concern over FOI Convention, discuss with Fr.
If Fr press proposal USDel shld consult other Dels urging opposition proposal and affirming US readiness sign Newsgathering Convention as whole. Dels which voted for Convention 3rd GA (list of 33 follows air pouch) shld be urged maintain support. USDel shld take propoganda initiative in debate pointing out seriousness abandonment this time of agreed standards for promoting free flow news.
If necessary as means persuading Fr not press their proposal, USDel may agree it will make no effort at this session open News-gathering text for signature. In any event effort shld not be made unless prior assurance majority support for whole text as now drafted. Recommendation 4 of SD/A/C.3/144 is modified accordingly.