IO files, US/A/3548

Plenary Position Paper Prepared by the United States Delegation to the General Assembly


Scale of Assessments for the Apportionment of the Expenses of the United Nations: Report of the Fifth Committee (A/2286)

1. united states position

The United States should abstain on the report and the resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee. This resolution adopts the scale of assessments for 1953, recommended by the Committee on Contributions, which reduces the United States share to 35.12%. The resolution also decides that from 1 January, 1954, the assessment of the largest contributor shall not exceed one-third of total assessments against Members. This is the first time that definite assurance has been given the United States regarding the implementation of the ceiling principle adopted in 1948. The United States should vote against the draft resolution proposed by the USSR (A/L.122). This resolution in practically the same form was rejected in the Fifth Committee by a vote of 5–37–6.

The United States should vote under Rule 67 against plenary debate of the Fifth Committee report. It is necessary, however, that the United States explain its vote by a statement along the lines of the attached draft (Annex A).

2. history in committee

The United States vigorously pressed for an immediate reduction of its percentage to 33⅓% during Fifth Committee discussions (Press Release #1579). Many delegations were sympathetically inclined toward the United States position, but were fearful that an overthrow of the scale recommended by the Committee on Contributions would lead to a chaotic situation. These delegations, led by the Canadians [Page 614] who agreed to forego benefits which they would otherwise derive from the per-capita principle as the United States share was reduced, supported the compromise solution contained in this report. This solution was designed to give the United States assurance that its wishes would definitely be accommodated by 1954. The United States abstained in the vote on the resolution now before the Assembly. The vote on the draft resolution as a whole was 38–7–3.

3. possible developments in plenary

It is anticipated that the Fifth Committee report will be adopted. The Soviet bloc may seize this opportunity to again attack the United States along the line followed in Fifth Committee, i.e., “failure to provide income tax exemption for United States nationals on Secretariat, requiring reimbursement to United States Treasury out of United Nations funds; restraint of trade which makes difficult payment of Member assessments; and war profiteering of United States, while others suffered immense devastation”. (A full rebuttal to these charges was made by Senator Wiley in a speech in Fifth Committee, on November 14, 1952, Press Release #1583.)

[Attachment] Annex A

Draft Statement

Explanation of Vote on the Report of the Fifth Committee (Scale of Assessments) by the Honorable Alexander Wiley, United States Delegate to the General Assembly, in Plenary Session, November 1952.

Mr. President: I appreciate this opportunity to explain the vote of the United States on the report of the Fifth Committee on contributions for 1953. This is a most important and complex question.

As I have repeatedly attempted to make clear to the Fifth Committee, the reduction of the United States’ share of the regular expenses of the United Nations to the one-third ceiling, is a matter of great moment and a source of considerable concern within my government. This is evident from the fact that for two successive years the Congress of the United States has passed laws which place restrictions on our representatives to international organizations with regard to assessed financial commitments on the United States in excess of one-third of the total assessments. My previous statements in the Fifth Committee, urging action to implement the one-third principle now, were made with these legal limitations, as well as the United States Delegation’s convictions, in mind.

For several years, delegations from the United States have stated the case for the one-third ceiling principle with earnestness and sincerity. [Page 615] They have attempted, as I have endeavored this year, to make it abundantly clear that the United States looks upon this question as one of principle—not one of money. I reminded my colleagues in Committee 5 of the vast contributions which the United States Government has freely made to the total undertakings of the United Nations and its related Agencies. Contributions which have reached a total of $580 millions since 1946—a total which does not, and cannot, take into account the thousands of American lives and billions of dollars being directly spent by the United States in support of United Nations principles in Korea. I mention these considerations, not in an effort to claim credit, but in an effort to again underscore the fact that my Government is primarily concerned about the principle at issue. We believe it is vitally important to the United Nations that it not be dependent upon any one Member State for more than one-third of its regular income. We believe that in an international organization composed of sixty sovereign states, with equal privileges and responsibilities, there should be more equality in contributions. We believe that contrary conditions mitigate against the best long run interests of the United Nations.

I shall not again repeat the many reasons why I believe it would have been both wise and just for this Assembly to have approved the resolution submitted by my Delegation. This resolution would have fixed the share of the largest contributor at one-third as of 1 January 1953. Since this did not find favor with the majority of the Fifth Committee, I had no alternative but to abstain on the proposal to establish the ceiling at one third for 1954. We also abstained on the resolution adopting the report of the Committee on Contributions. In any event, Sir, I believe that it is manifest, as the distinguished delegate and parliamentarian of Norway pointed out in the Fifth Committee, that any commitment of the United States to contribute more than 33⅓% is based on the provisions of the Charter, and not on the vote of the United States representative.

I should not like to close without a reference to the Committee 5 efforts of the Canadian and other delegates, who obtained Committee agreement on the resolution we have considered today. While this agreement is not all that my Government deems warranted under the circumstances, it does constitute a firm step forward in that, for the first time, there is definite assurance that the ceiling principle will be finally implemented beginning 1 January 1954. This in itself is gratifying, and those who labored to bring about this result, are entitled to the appreciation of all of us who have the best interests of the United Nations at heart.

In summary, Sir, I hope that this Assembly will accept the assurances of my Delegation that the United States will continue to do its part in the support of the United Nations. I hope also that you will [Page 616] understand that our abstention today was dictated by a spirit of cooperation. Since I could not vote for the report, I did the next best thing by abstaining. I did so because I recognize that there is much that is good in the report on contributions, and because I appreciate the goodwill which lies behind the 1954 assurance. It is my fervent wish, Mr. President, that this example of give-and-take—this product of a willingness to come at least part of the way toward accommodating differing points of view—might spur us on, in the same spirit, toward significant accomplishments in the settlement of the major problems which confront us.

I thank you, Mr. President.