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


  • UN Topics for the Ranch

Joe Sisco and I have discussed at great length the best way to involve the President in UN affairs in the post election period and, unless you or the Secretary object, our thought now is to proceed generally along the following lines:

First of all, the President’s press briefing book has now been updated and revised on several UN matters—especially on Article 19—so that he can deal with these topics that are almost certain to creep into questions at news conferences from here on out.

As a second step, it seemed to us that a memorandum to the President from the Secretary,2 to be on hand when the President returns to Washington, briefly outlining all the important aspects of the upcoming GA, including items other than the two obvious ones, would be in order. This would serve to focus the whole US position with respect to the United Nations and also serve as a backdrop for specific and more intense handling of the Article 19 and Chirep issues later. (In view of your and the Secretary’s trip to the Ranch, this step probably can be eliminated.)

As a third step, the President should square-off in detail on Article 19. This should take place around the middle of the month and it should be done with the Secretary and Stevenson on hand. This is serious business and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he fully understands and agrees with the strategy we now are pursuing. (Stevenson is interested in having a swearing-in ceremony and this could be done either before or after this meeting.)

A fourth step should be a similar meeting on Chirep, but chances are that we will not have to face up to this one until after the GA’s Christmas recess—probably around mid-January. On this problem, the situations will change almost daily and we will not know where we stand until after Christmas.

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Article 19

In the handling of this problem at the Ranch, I would suggest a detailed discussion be postponed until the President returns to the White House. However, he should be assured that we have adopted our present strategy with our eyes completely open. The language of the Charter (Article 19) is clear:

“A Member of the United Nations which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote [italics mine]3 in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years …”

The President should know that the best legal opinion in and out of Government supports our strategy. A resolution by the House and concurred in by the Senate also supports our position. An opinion handed down by the World Court in the fall of 1962 and adopted by the GA in December 1962 stated that UN peacekeeping expenses were the responsibility of the entire organization. If a vote were taken in the GA today, the chances are good that our interpretation of the Charter would prevail. But there would be many abstentions. There still are too many GA members who do not have the guts to stand up and be counted.

Statistics on USSR Arrears:

  • -The total 1964 arrears are $52,623,137.
  • -The amount the USSR must pay before the GA convenes on December 1, 1964 is $5,793,331.
  • -For the 1965 Article 19 arrears, the USSR must pay an additional $20,740,905.

As of January 1, 1965, we will face a similar situation with France unless its arrears are paid. There is more optimism about the French finding a way out than there is about the USSR. There has been a considerable amount of dialogue between the French and other delegations on the problem. However, it still is too early to predict with any confidence what the French may do.

Statistics on French Arrears:

  • -The total arrears are $17,752,565.
  • -The amount France must pay before January 1, 1965 is $1,666,676.
  • -The bulk of the arrears for France are in the Congo account; the amount for the Congo is $17,031,152.


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You already have received so much on this problem that I hesitate to push more at you for this meeting. Much thought is going into the matter but it has not yet been brought together at a high enough level for me to see where we are going. My guess is that your brother and Harlan Cleveland have moved further along than anyone else.

My own belief is that we should follow through on the tactics we have used in the past for the time being. The latest estimate for a resolution that would expel the GRC and seat the Chicoms shows a very narrow margin in our favor: 50 against seating; 48 for seating; 17 abstentions. The estimate for sustaining Chicom admission as an “Important Question” is somewhat better: 59 for sustaining; 46 against; 10 abstentions. It is my guess that we will have to fall back on the “Important Question” ruling to carry the day.

On the assumption that we do carry the day on one of the above approaches the matter should not be allowed to stop there. I continue to come back to establishment of a Committee under the SYG and the Security Council that would study the question for a year and report back to the 20th GA; probably recommending that the Chicoms be admitted. This would have the advantage of educating the full membership on exactly what they are doing (this is badly needed on many issues) and straightening out the difficult legal problems that are involved in unseating one Security Council Member and giving the seat to another country. But also, and perhaps more importantly, the Chicoms should be invited (through a third country) to join in the deliberations of the ENDC during the coming year. This would serve as an excellent sounding board for the Chicoms and an even better listening post for ourselves and others. I hope this kind of approach to the problem might be put into the hopper for the President to think about, for it will be one of the most important problems he will have to deal with in the coming year and it is highly important that he do whatever he does with great deliberation and, I hope, with style.

There is even another reason why the Chicoms ought to be brought into the ENDC. As I read it, very little is being accomplished in the disarmament field for the time being. Chicom participation would lend a new importance to the whole approach to disarmament and would serve to emphasize whatever new initiatives we might wish to make.

President’s Appearance at the United Nations

This is something we will wish to decide later and our decision will largely depend on how the Article 19 problem is handled with the USSR and possibly France.

Other Items

Much hard work is going on in the Committee of 24 (Colonialism), the Committee of 21 (Financing), the Outer-Space Committee, on [Page 668] ECOSOC problems, Cyprus, etc. But I do not think these are worthy of the President’s time, or yours, at the moment. Some of them will be quite important later on, but we can deal with them then.

Sam B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Miscellaneous Memos. Confidential.
  2. A memorandum from Rusk to Johnson, November 18, is ibid., Office of the President File, McGeorge Bundy.
  3. Brackets in the source text.