320/12–2251: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin)


Gadel 582. Dept unable agree Fr request US join in support res on code ethics and monopoly Delga 795.1 Consider such action, when coupled with Fr proposal re Newsgathering Convention, as completely negative Freedom of Info (FOI) approach.

Cannot see how “balance” between rights and duties of correspondents which Fr desire is attained by adoption Right Correction provisions convention and stress on code and anti-monopoly in return for killing or seriously jeopardizing affirmative protection of correspondents afforded by first part convention. Throughout most of world “balance” [Page 816] now heavily against rights correspondents and US strongly opposed any action which tends add weight UN prestige to action many Govts restricting and harassing correspondents.

Suggest immediate consultations UK, Scandinavian and other like-minded Dels in order effect concerted approach FrDel along lines Gadels 64 and 183 and urge FrDel not place itself in position leader anti-FOI elements in GA. While playing role compromiser in past FOI discussions, Fr has shown reluctance be separated completely from Western Eur US and UK Dels and may be persuaded abandon present drive despite assurance majority support if certain of strong opposition these Dels. In private talks USDel shld if necessary urge Fr take into acct strong opposition press and other quarters US to their proposals.

With regard code ethics shld be noted FOI Subcom will review and complete it as first item business in Mar session, after which transmitted ECOSOC for referral professional bodies for voluntary adoption. GA action this time therefore not only unnecessary but likely increase suspicion professional bodies code intended as Govt instrument control press. While USDel may of course support reference in otherwise acceptable res merely noting code in process drafting shld oppose any form GA endorsement giving above as reasons.

Reference Govt anti-monopoly measures undesirable since plays into hands Sov propaganda. US cld support such reference only if point clearly made that greatest threat FOI is totalitarian Govt monopoly but USDel shld note UK and other Dels having BBC type monopoly may have difficulty supporting. Because of this difficulty previous attempt draft such res resulted in feeble and ambiguous text worse than none (see res 27 E/CONF.6/79). If find necessary oppose inadequate reference monopoly, USDel shld stress US opposed all forms FOI monopoly, pointing out US Govt has recently used antitrust legislation in successful prosecutions few instances private abuse US.

  1. Dated December 22, supra.