304. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

861. From Secretary for Stevenson. Re Urtels 1034, 1041, 1044, 1046, 1048, 1049.2

I am greatly concerned at the extent to which view apparently prevails in UN circles that US position on Article 19 will change after our elections and that a postponement of GA until next year would be desirable to permit further efforts at compromise. Judging by all available evidence, and despite Narasimhan’s protestations that Secretariat is neutral on question of postponement, I assume SYG is encouraging [Page 655] postponement apparently in expectation that a meeting between President and Khrushchev could solve this issue.

You should make it plain that application of Article 19 has nothing whatsoever to do with US elections, nor is it bilateral US–USSR problem suitable for disposition at summit. US policy will remain firm on issue after elections as it is now.

Moreover, from technical point of view, review of postponement shows such course not technically feasible. Article 20 aside, there are two important items of business which require voting during calendar year 1964: 1) either a budget must be adopted for 1965 or some form of authorization enabling the Organization to continue to incur expenses would have to be passed; and 2) elections must be held for the Security Council seat of Members whose terms expire or there would be serious question as to Council’s legal competence to function in 1965.

An additional and strong consideration of a political character militating against postponement of the issue until 1965 is that in January the ranks of delinquents will swell, to include so important a Member as France; this would probably further erode our voting support. The GA must meet in 1964 and the Article 19 problem must be faced this year.

I am glad to see that you took a strong line with the Western Ambassadors yesterday on the need for firmness and confidence in opposing postponement and that most of this group agreed the issue must be faced this year.

In reviewing the entire problem, I conclude there are five major fallacies which need to be exploded:

That the US position will suddenly soften after our election, leading to some compromise in which the Soviets do not pay and do vote. I agree with your recommendation that you make publicly clear that the US position has nothing to do with election politics and will be the same a month after the election as it is a month before the election. As occasion offers, I will take the same line publicly here.
That the issue itself can be postponed in the coming GA. It cannot be postponed in the sense that if the Assembly convenes and conducts normal business pending study of the question or during referral to ICJ, the battle will have been lost by simple failure to apply Article 19.
That the session can be postponed until 1965. The comments above deal with this.
That more time is needed to work out an accommodation with the USSR. We have been trying since last March to do just this, and the Soviets have not budged. That is not to say that we should not make one last major effort with the USSR in the very near future which will give [Page 656] them an opportunity to accommodate themselves if they wish, or at a minimum demonstrate to the rest of the Members that we have gone the last mile. I would appreciate your view on this.
That a Johnson-Khrushchev meeting would resolve the Article 19 issue if it is delayed pending a summit. This is not a US–USSR problem; it is, rather, a problem between the UN membership as a whole and that handful of States which refuses to abide by the clear terms of the Charter and the clear opinions of the ICJ. It is a test of will between those who advocate a dynamic, operational UN and those who shrink from support of international peacekeeping forces. It is not the type of issue which is appropriate for a summit exchange between the US and the USSR.

As a next step, I think you should talk to U Thant personally. Bunche must obviously have been acting under U Thant’s instruction in suggesting GA postponement until 1965, and they should both know our appraisal of situation, including consideration that such activity impairs the prospects of getting the Assembly membership to uphold the Charter when GA convenes. In particular, I think that they are doing no one a service if they are suggesting that a resolution of this issue should await a Johnson-Khrushchev meeting.

Moreover, the SYG more than any other individual should appreciate fully the need to protect the integrity of the ICJ which has expressed itself clearly on this issue.

Finally, the SYG and others should understand that I see no prospect that the Executive Branch would propose or the American people support appropriations for the UN as in the past if financial issue not resolved satisfactorily.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Administrative Histories, Department of State During the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, Vol. 2, Part 5. Confidential. Repeated to Moscow. Drafted by Sisco, Buffum, and Cleveland; cleared in G, L, EUR, and IO; and approved by Rusk. Another copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, UN 10–4.
  2. Telegram 1034 from New York, October 8, is ibid., UN 3 GA. Telegrams 1041, 1044, 1046, 1048, and 1049 from New York, October 8, are ibid., UN 10–4. These telegrams discussed the Article 19 controversy and possible postponement of the 19th General Assembly.