315.2/4–1852: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Offices in the Other American Republics2


During the past two years there have been significant increases in the budgets of some of the large specialized agencies of the United Nations. In UNESCO, the voted budget for 1951 was $8,200,000, and for 1952, $8,718,000. The Director General is proposing up to $10,529,391 for 1953. In WHO, the voted budget for 1951 was $7,300,000 and for 1952, $9,077,782. The Director General and Executive Board are proposing $9,837,554 for 1953, of which $9,000,000 will be assessed, the remainder to come from other income. (In WHO, 16% of the assessments in each year represent members who have indicated withdrawal but whose withdrawal is not recognized. The actual expenditure budget for 1952, for instance, is $7,677,782.)

In ILO, FAO, and ICAO, the increases have been more modest and represent very little expansion in program. In ILO, for instance, the Governing Body at its last session just completed cut the Director General’s estimates for 1953 back to approximately the 1952 level.

In these agencies, the United States pays from 25% of the budget (ICAO, ILO) to 30% (FAO) and 33⅓% (UNESCO, WHO).

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In the case of three of the organizations (FAO, ILO, WHO), the Congress imposed limitations on the size of the annual United States contribution when it authorized United States participation. These limitations were exceeded in the United States assessments for 1950 and 1951 and the Congress in Public Law 806, 81st Congress, set new and higher limitations. In the case of WHO, there is danger of the new limitation being reached immediately. The Director General’s estimates for 1953 call for an assessment to the United States of $3,000,000, the exact amount of the Congressional limitation.

The House Appropriations Committee, in recommending appropriations for the United States contributions to international organizations for the United States fiscal year 1953 in full as assessed, stated that it expected the Department to make every effort to reduce the amounts of the budgets of the various organizations. In voting the appropriation, the House reduced the total amount, thus placing the United States in a position of partial default if the reduction is not restored. The Senate has not yet acted.

The United States position in respect to these budgets, subject to the legislative limitations on the size of the United States contribution, has been a judicious one. We have believed that budgets should stand on their own merits, as long as they represented an intelligently planned program of necessary activities and did not go beyond the capacity of members to support them. The United States has never in the past argued for stabilization of budgets, but has tried to insure that any increases in them were necessary to carry out the kind and amount of program the United States wanted, on a sensible priority basis. This position has most frequently required that a conservative attitude be taken toward the always larger budgets proposed by the Directors General of the organizations. The United States position has not always been successful. The United States has often found itself in a minority position, and the subject of a great deal of criticism from delegations of other members who were pushing, with some success, to expand rapidly the agencies’ programs. Unfortunately, in some cases, the delegations who were most active in pushing for budget increases were representing Governments whose delegations in the United Nations were strongly supporting resolutions calling for attempts at budget stabilization. In the United Nations General Assembly, many delegations have expressed great concern over the precipitate increases in agency budgets, but, in significant cases, their counterparts in the agencies have not appeared to be similarly instructed.

For example, at the Fourth Health Assembly in 1951, the United States delegation was instructed to support a modest increase in the budget, but found itself almost alone in this position, with a majority of the delegations wishing a large expansion. Although the vote was largely on a developed vs. underdeveloped country basis, there were [Page 603] several delegations supporting the large increase while their Governments were taking a different line in the United Nations General Assembly.

Budgets for the UN specialized agencies for 1953 will be voted at meetings of their constituent bodies this summer and fall. The United States position will be to hold budgets at their 1952 levels. This position is prompted not only by Congressional developments, but by a conviction that if sensible priorities are established, considerable program improvement can result under the same budget figure as at present. For your information, the Department hopes, however, that more governments will have taken the necessary internal coordinative action to ensure a consistent approach on their part to this problem, and that the United States may not bear the whole brunt of opposing the large budget increase which some members may desire. The action of the ILO Governing Body, where the United States position was gained with other governments taking the leadership, indicates that this is possible.

It would be appreciated if you would in your discretion discuss this matter with appropriate foreign office officials in the government to which you are accredited indicating this Government’s concern over the problem and ascertaining, if possible, their views with regard to it. The Department fears that the proposed precipitate increases in the WHO and UNESCO budgets may jeopardize future United States support of these and other United Nations agencies. In the case of WHO, the adoption of the Director General’s budget would prejudice the level of future budgets when less miscellaneous income would be available, and the United States legislative limitation would be quickly surpassed.

The WHO Assembly convenes in Geneva on May 5, and the Budget Committee of the UNESCO General Conference convenes in Paris in November.

  1. Drafted by the Acting Assistant Chief of the Division of International Administration (Henderson) and cleared with the Director of the Office of UN Economic and Social Affairs (Kotschnig), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for UN Affairs (Sandifer), and the geographic bureaus; signed by Henderson).Sent to 17 posts for action and to Geneva for information.

    Similar airgrams were sent also on Apr. 18 to the Embassy in Rio (A–543) and to certain diplomatic missions in the Near East and Africa (Athens, Beirut, Damascus, and Monrovia).