288. Memorandum From Samuel Belk of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • United-Nations Peacekeeping and Article 19—Memorandum to the President from the Secretary of State (Attached)2

The Secretary’s memorandum begins as though the Department’s proposals on the problem are solely to carry forward the momentum of the President’s January 18 letter to Khrushchev. The truth of the matter is, of course, that the situation we now face would have been the same even if the President had not written the letter.

As for strengthening of the Role of the Security Council, it is in the long-range interest of this country, as well as the USSR, that important matters [Page 620] such as peacekeeping go through the Security Council channel due to the present nature and composition of the General Assembly. In this, the US and USSR have a common interest. We will not, of course, mention this in our negotiations with the Russians, but it will be a consideration both sides will be taking into account most seriously. As for the attitude of the less-developed countries, there will be no objection because they ultimately will be represented on an enlarged (15) Security Council.

Also, in order that greater account can be taken of the special responsibilities and contributions of the larger countries, we would support the creation of a new Peacekeeping Finance Committee of the General Assembly, weighted in favor of the larger and middle countries, which would, determine how a particular peacekeeping operation would be financed. In this way, those countries who pay the larger amounts would also have a larger voice in how it was spent.

We also would be willing to accept a special scale of assessment under which large contributors would pay proportionately more than the regular scale for an expensive peacekeeping operation (i.e., in excess of $5–10 million). This would be advantageous because those who have the greatest responsibility and concern for peacekeeping would have greater control through the membership of the new finance committee, heavily weighted in their favor. The less-developed countries would approve of this because they would pay less than they now do.

On the matter of selective assessment (allowing a permanent member of the Security Council to opt out of a particular peacekeeping operation of which it does not approve), it might be that our accession to such an arrangement could be traded for payment by the USSR of its arrears. If this works, the less-developed countries, who shudder at the prospect of a confrontation with the USSR on Article 19, would be greatly relieved. Such a provision might, at some time in the future, be desirable for this country, let us say, if the wrong kind of government came to power in Puerto Rico accompanied by internal strife.

The USSR’s total arrearage is $54.5 million; breaking down into $2 million in regular assessments, $15.6 million for UNEF and $6.9 million for the Congo operation.3 Moscow would have to pay $8 million (arrived at by a rather complicated method) to retain its GA vote.

The Department believes that if it takes the “reasonable” approach outlined in the Secretary’s memorandum, rather than a “Cold War” one, there is a good chance to make progress. It is also believed that such an [Page 621] approach will line up more votes in favor of our interpretation of Article 19. This, only time will tell. The Russians have indicated to us that they are concerned about the problem and have indicated to the SYG that they expect bilateral negotiations with the US to begin soon.

You will recall that the ICJ ruled in the summer of 19624 that peacekeeping expenses were the responsibility of the Organization; but what they did not rule on was the automaticity of the application of Article 19. Some countries, especially the smaller ones, have doubts about the application of this Article and it may be necessary to get an additional ruling by the ICJ if this group becomes strong enough.

As for the difference between the Department and Governor Stevenson on the approach we take in negotiating with the Russians,5 i.e., do we offer the opting out idea at the beginning or make the Russians work for it, there is an increasing belief in the Department that the matter can be easily resolved; probably by the Secretary advising Stevenson that we must at least take a careful sounding of the Russian position before capitulating on the matter. I think Abe Chayes’ letter to Stevenson and his memorandum to the Secretary—both of which I sent you6—are the most eloquent statements supporting this view.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Article 19, Vol. 1. Confidential.
  2. Document 287.
  3. Reference is to the United Nations Emergency Fund (UNEF), created to support emergency peacekeeping operations, and the special allotment established in 1961 to support peacekeeping operations in the former Belgian Congo.
  4. The Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice issued July 20, 1962. For text, see ICJ Reports, 1962, pp. 151–308.
  5. In a February 13 memorandum to Bundy, Belk reported that having failed to find support for his approach Stevenson had accepted the approach recommended by Rusk and that negotiations with the Russians would probably begin the following week at the United Nations. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Article 19, Vol. 1)
  6. Neither found.