465. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Wilcox) to the Secretary of State1


  • United Nations Outer Space Committee Composition Negotiations


Our U.N. Delegation has been negotiating with the USSR, in consultation with our allies, concerning the composition of the U.N. Outer Space Committee. The position paper2 prepared for our Delegation’s use authorized a composition of 9 (Western), 4 (Soviet), and 4 (neutrals). It was indicated in this paper, however, that if the Soviet Union was willing to negotiate seriously, we would be prepared to consider other proposals. As a consequence of consultations with our allies and other members of the former ad hoc committee on outer space, our Delegation has maintained the position that the composition of an outer space committee should have as its base those countries which were members of last year’s committee, which had a composition of 12 Western, 3 Soviets and 3 neutrals.

Kuznetsov, after first making a series of obviously unacceptable proposals of parity or near parity, suggested to our Mission yesterday a composition of either 12 Western, 9 Soviets and 4 neutrals, or 11 Western, 8 Soviets and 3 neutrals.3 Ambassador Lodge indicated that we might be able to consider a composition of 11–6–4 or 12–8–3 or 12–9–2. Both negotiators said they would seek instructions. Ambassador Lodge now recommends that he be authorized to offer 12–8–4 on the understandings that (1) Hungary will not be a member and that Soviet insistence on Hungary would be a breaking point, and that (2) two of the four “neutrals” would be taken from among Austria, Ireland, Jordan, Malaya, Sweden and Tunisia.

All of the various formulas referred to in Delga 487 (Tab A)4 would provide the Soviet Union with a highly disproportionate share of the representation in comparison with the concept of equitable geographic representation. (The Soviet bloc forms slightly less than [Page 900] 1/8 of the total membership of the United Nations.) While we have recognized that the formation of a U.N. Outer Space Committee will require some departure from proportionate geographic representation in a direction favorable to the USSR, this should be held to a reasonable minimum. The formula of 12–8–4, recommended by Ambassador Lodge, is open to the objection that the Soviet bloc would emerge with a disproportionate number of seats, 8 out of 24. Moreover, we question the desirability, both on its merits and as a precedent of including virtually all of the Soviet bloc members in the membership of a U.N. committee. We therefore think the direction of our negotiating effort should now be to reduce the number of Soviet bloc states being considered in the various formulas which have been advanced and to increase the number of states which would fall in the so-called “neutral” segment. This would serve both to reflect more adequately the true geographic representation of the U.N. and to improve the voting margin which the Western countries would have in the Committee.


It is recommended that our Delegation be authorized to propose a composition of 12 Western, 5 Soviets and 6 neutrals, and that, as a fall-back position, the Delegation be authorized to accept a composition of 12 Western, 6 Soviets and 5 neutrals. It is further recommended that we advise our Delegation that, as a tactical move to seek a reduction in the number of Soviet bloc members, the Delegation should initially propose a composition of 11 Western, 4 Soviets and 6 neutrals. In any of these formulas we would, of course, insist upon a reasonable share of “friendly” neutrals along the line of Ambassador Lodge’s recommendation in paragraph 13 of Delga 487. Our Delegation should also be instructed to make clear to the Soviets that we would not be prepared to accept Hungary in any formula for composition.5


S/AE—see attached memo (Tab B)6

EUR—Mr. Kohler7

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320.5701/11–2059. Confidential. Drafted by Cargo and Grand and initialed by Wilcox.
  2. Document 460.
  3. Lodge reported on this meeting in Delga 487, November 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 320.5701/11–1959)
  4. See footnote 3 above.
  5. Herter initialed his approval on the source text.
  6. Not printed. In it Farley recommended that the 9–4–4 position be explored with the Soviet Union with the aim of keeping membership on the committee as low as possible. In a handwritten notation on the memorandum, Wilcox stated that eliminating three friendly governments was not politically feasible and would cost dearly at the United Nations.
  7. Mr. Kohler made his concurrence in this memorandum subject to his view that the position recommended above should be the “absolute maximum position and that we are prepared to break off if not accepted.” [Footnote in the source text. Below this note Herter had written: “I concur in above.”]