320/11–1052: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Department of State

Delga 160. Verbatim text. Re: SyG Lie’s resignation. Following is text of statement delivered by SyG Lie in plenary this afternoon (UN press release SG/267):

“Mr. President, distinguished delegates:

“Before you resume the general debate I feel it is my duty to inform you of the text of a letter I handed this morning to the President of the GA. It reads as follows:

‛Dear Mr. Pearson,

‛I wish to refer to our personal and confidential conversation on the 11th of September, in which I informed you that I had decided, after lengthy consideration over many months, to submit my resignation as SyG of the UN.

‛It had been my intention—as I informed you then—to take this step at the opening of the 7th session of the GA. I have delayed [Page 424] until today, when the Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the SC are all present for the first time during this session, in the hope that this will facilitate agreement on my successor.

‛I shall be grateful if you would propose as a new item on the agenda

‛“Appointment of the SyG”.’

“I have also informed the President of the SC, Dr. Tsiang, about my decision.

“I think you all should know that it was last summer, after long talks with my family and a few close friends, that I finally decided. Since then a very few others whom I consulted have tried to persuade me to go on. I thank them for that. But I am quite sure that this is the time to leave without damage to the UN, and that it would be better for the UN if I do so now.

“First of all, I ask you to remember that I wanted to retire in 1950 at the end of my five year term. I agreed to continue only because the aggression in Korea created circumstances that put me under an obligation to carry on.

“Now I feel that situation is somewhat different. The UN has thrown back aggression in Korea. There can be an armistice if the Soviet Union, the Chinese People’s Republic and the North Koreans are sincere in their wish to end the fighting.

“If they are sincere, then a new SyG, who is the unanimous choice of the 5 Great Powers, the SC and of the GA, may be more helpful than I can be. On the other hand, if, the world situation should go from bad to worse, at least I would not want the position of SyG to hinder in the slightest degree any hope of reaching a new understanding that would prevent world disaster.

“There are other reasons why it is now more appropriate for me to retire than in 1950. The permanent headquarters buildings have been completed. It is not necessary for me to stay on for the last finishing touches—for the lawns to grow green, and the trees to be planted and the gardens to flower and the murals to be painted.

“The secretariat, also, is better established and organized as one of the principal organs of the UN. It can still be improved, of course, and made more efficient. But the UN now has a good secretariat. I have placed before this session of the Assembly proposals for the reorganization that I believe might contribute to improved administration in the future. I think a new SyG should be elected now, so that he may have time to make his own judgment about these proposals before the next session of the GA acts upon them.

“I know there is a risk that my action today may be misunderstood. Still, I must say as strongly as I can, that my resignation is caused by the reasons just stated and by no other.

“I would like the members to know that I am stepping aside now because I hope this may help the UN to save the peace and to serve better the cause of freedom and progress for all mankind.”