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


  • Contingency Planning for Problems that May Arise in the UN before November 3

The worst thing that could happen would be an Emergency Special Session of the GA.

You may recall that the Department in mid-June went through this exercise and their contingency planning at that time still is about as good as can be done. A paraphrase of the Secretary’s June 13 Memorandum to the President2 follows:

The regular session of the UN General Assembly will start November 10th. So far this year, no situation has arisen that brought us close to having an out-of-season General Assembly. Most of the UN’s members, and especially the US, would prefer to avoid an out-of-season Assembly, because it would touch off major difficulties over the Article 19 issue, and there might be difficulties over Chinese representation.

If a sudden emergency should develop requiring UN consideration, the US would try to get it brought first into the Security Council. If a UN peacekeeping operation should be required, our first approach would be to have it authorized by the Security Council and financed by voluntary contributions—in the manner of the Cyprus operation. Only if the Security Council could not deal with the matter—presumably because of an impending or actual great power veto-would there be general support for an Emergency Special Session.

At an Emergency Special Session, the best guess is that the Chinese representation question would be disposed of in the traditional way—that is, by turning down Communist proposals to substitute Peking for Taipei in the China seat.

As for the Article 19 issue, we would hope to have marshalled, previous to any such session, at least a simple majority of the votes to apply Article 19 to any member two years in arrears. If the Soviets are convinced that they would lose on this issue, the US believes they will find some way to pay up. If, on the other hand, it appears that we do not have the votes on Article 19—perhaps because some Members would [Page 652]want to set aside this issue in view of the crisis for which the Emergency Session was called—there are two escape hatches:

We could work for a deferment of the application of Article 19 so that the Emergency Session could deal with the urgent business before it. This would put the loss-of-vote issue over to the regular session of the Assembly in November, without prejudice to the merits of the question.
The General Assembly could submit to the ICJ one or more questions on the application of Article 19. (The previous Court decision covered the binding character of the Congo and Middle East peacekeeping assessments, but did not rule on the procedures for applying Article 19.)

Which of these escape routes would do the least damage to our position on the merits of the issue could be better judged when we are nearer to the need for an Emergency General Assembly.

If there developed a serious possibility of an Emergency Session of the General Assembly, the Department would immediately consult with Congressional leaders, particularly on the Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs Committees.

In consultations on UN questions in Washington at the end of May we discussed with the British our general approach to an Emergency Session of the Assembly. There is some doubt of the value or wisdom of wider consultations on this contingency in the absence of an emergency that might require a quick meeting of the General Assembly.

In addition to the foregoing, there is a possibility of Security Council meetings on one or several outstanding problems—the Congo, Cyprus, SEA, Cuba, etc. All of these will have to be played by ear in the light of the situation prevailing at the time. But, at this writing, none of these seem probable with the exception of a Council meeting already scheduled for mid-September to handle the problem of financing the Cyprus operation.

In the absence of a serious crisis, the mood of UN Delegations will not be one of favoring an Emergency Session. Many of the delegates already have left New York for the summer holiday. Some of them plan to attend the Second Non-Aligned Conference in Cairo during the first week in October, which they regard as important as the UN, and they would be most reluctant to come back to New York before it ended.

As of now, the prospects are good for a relatively quiet period in New York, but we should not and we do not count on it.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Miscellaneous Memos. Confidential.
  2. A copy is ibid.