314. Special Report Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1
ISSUES BEFORE THE 19TH UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
For many months the UN membership has been preoccupied with avoiding a crisis over the Article 19 payments issue. Unless a last-minute solution is found, a serious confrontation is in prospect when the General Assembly convenes on 1 December for its 19th session. The outcome is still in doubt, and even if a showdown can be avoided—perhaps by adjourning the assembly for a few months—the UN’s role in future peacekeeping operations appears bound to be modified. Another critical question facing this session is the perennial Chinese representation issue. For the first time, a resolution to seat Communist China in place of Taiwan could receive a majority.
Among other issues, Southeast Asia’s problems may receive increased attention, Cuba may launch a diplomatic offensive against the US from the floor of the assembly, and disarmament and colonialism will be spotlighted. Such perennial issues as the Arab-Israeli dispute and the Korean item will also appear. All told there are already over 90 items scheduled, and this session’s debate is certain to be unusually important and difficult.
The Arrears Problem
The Soviet Union’s refusal to pay its share of the cost of the UN operations in the Congo and Middle East has cast a heavy shadow over the session. Moscow and others in the bloc risk losing their vote in the assembly when it convenes on 1 December. Soviet officials have indicated they do not want to see Soviet relations with the UN or the US seriously damaged, but thus far they have adamantly refused to pay their arrears. The possibility of a last-minute token payment by Moscow cannot be totally discounted, but the Soviets would probably insist that their stand “in principle” has not changed while negotiations continued. The war of nerves seems likely to come to a head on the opening day of the assembly. The outcome may affect the entire future of the UN.
The last few weeks have seen intensified efforts by both great and small UN members to avoid a showdown. In addition to the original 21-member [Page 677]group appointed to deal with a wide range of problems bearing on financing and peacekeeping operations, a number of smaller groups have also taken up the problem. Because of the strongly prevailing fear of being caught in a US-Soviet squeeze and provoking a Soviet walkout, however, only one proposal of any promise has been put forward. This formula, promulgated by four UN ambassadors, calls for creation of a “voluntary rescue” fund to which all members would be asked to contribute in order to alleviate the UN’s financial problems. This would give the USSR and France—which also faces possible loss of its vote in January—a face-saving method to pay their arrears before the assembly convened. Serious divisions have appeared among the four ambassadors, however, and their plan may be modified along lines not acceptable to the US.
If no solution is reached in advance of the session, current General Assembly President Sosa-Rodriguez has the unenviable task of ruling on whether the USSR will be deprived of its vote. He is reluctant to do so, but may not be able to avoid the issue.
There is considerable uncertainty as to how events will unfold on 1 December. The US UN mission believes the US has sufficient support to deprive the USSR of its voting rights in the assembly but expects wholesale abstentions. The USSR has told some UN delegations it would consider a vote against it an unfriendly act, and has threatened to leave the assembly and perhaps withdraw from the UN if subjected to an adverse ruling. Not only is the voting situation unclear, but the timing and wording of one or many resolutions that may be put to a vote will probably remain in doubt until the assembly convenes.
Even if a last-minute compromise solution can be arranged, the United Nations and particularly its peacekeeping functions will have been significantly affected by the prolonged struggle over the payments question. Even if the USSR made a contribution, it still in a sense will have won its point that the Security Council must be given more authority over peacekeeping operations. Henceforth it will be considerably more difficult for the General Assembly to institute and levy funds for such operations under powers deprived from the 1951 “Uniting for Peace” resolution unless the great powers concur. It will probably be impossible to force a permanent member of the Security Council to pay for an operation it finds politically objectionable.
Conversely, a shift back to the authority originally envisaged for the Security Council promises to displease many smaller UN members which collectively make their weight felt through action initiated by the General Assembly. This may in time result in a greater cohesiveness among the smaller UN members and could force the great powers into countermoves to strengthen their own community of interests.[Page 678]
The Chinese representation question may be the most crucial one before the assembly if the Article 19 issue is surmounted. It now appears that a strong resolution calling for the seating of Peiping and the removal of Nationalist China from the UN will for the first time come precariously close to, or even achieve, a simple majority vote in the assembly (see page 4).2 While no UN member has officially indicated it would switch its support from Taiwan to the mainland as a result of Peiping’s nuclear detonation, that event has enhanced Communist China’s prestige among many nonaligned countries and could provide an additional incentive for certain wavering countries to vote for it admission.
Whether Peiping actually attains a majority will hinge on the decisions of only a few African and Middle Eastern countries. France, Congo (Brazzaville), the Central African Republic, Kenya, and Zambia seem certain to add new votes to Peiping’s total. Dahomey is probably also in Communist China’s column now. Cyprus, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Malta, Chad, Senegal, and perhaps a few other West African and some Arab states are still uncertain and presumably open to persuasion. At any rate, last year’s 41 to 57 vote against seating Peiping is certain to be considerably closer this session.
Some countries have indicated unwillingness to vote for a strongly worded resolution like the one introduced by Albania last year which made no provision for Taiwan’s continued membership. Kuwait, for example, has indicated that if separate votes are taken it would vote to seat Peiping, and against removing Taiwan; and if the resolution called for both, Kuwait would not support it. Thus the wording of this year’s resolution, which will be introduced by Cambodia and co-sponsored by a few African countries, could be a key factor.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] De Gaulle may be actively maneuvering on Peiping’s behalf and he may soon make public his intentions. Paris may introduce a moderately worded amendment to the expected strong resolution. French officials have reportedly been abroad laying the groundwork for seating Peiping.
Although the Chinese Communists have shown an increased flexibility in their drive for international recognition, they remain adamant in their opposition to a “two-Chinas” solution. They appear content to bide their time, convinced they will be seated on their own terms, probably before too long.[Page 679]
In 1961 the General Assembly voted 61 to 34 to consider the Chinese representation issue an “important question,” thereby requiring a two-thirds vote to seat Peiping. In the US view, this ruling stands unless formally reversed by a subsequent vote in the assembly. Should the assembly decide to reconsider, the ruling could presumably be overturned by a simple majority. It appears that some countries which plan to vote for Communist China are willing to uphold the two-thirds requirement should that be put to a vote. France, however, will vote against the important-question ruling. Even if the 1961 rule is maintained, but Peiping receives a majority, Chiang Kai-shek might withdraw from the UN.
Laos and Southeast Asia
Certain Laotian officials have shown interest in appealing to the UN as a means of securing an end to the military intervention of Laos’ Communist neighbors. Laotians generally are disillusioned with the International Control Commission, and there is a growing feeling that a remedy for the prolonged instability in the country must soon be found. A prominent Laotian has sounded out US officials on the advisability of asking the Security Council, or failing there, the General Assembly, for a detachment of UN forces to help seal the frontiers.
Premier Souvanna Phouma has sounded out Moscow on whether it would lend support to such a request, but he has apparently received no response.
The UN probably would find it difficult to respond effectively to a Laotian appeal unless a crisis situation—as a major offensive by Pathet Lao—existed at the time. Under these circumstances the UN might find sufficient support to dispatch an observer group. In 1959, the Security Council, responding to a Laotian request, had authorized the sending of a four-member observer team to investigate charges that North Vietnamese troops were moving into the country.
The introduction of a UN observer presence into Laos—although unlikely at the present time—could open the way to an even deeper UN involvement in other crisis areas of Southeast Asia. In recent years, the UN has assisted in the transfer of West Irian to Indonesia, sent a team to “ascertain” the popular will in Sabah and Sarawak prior to the formation of Malaysia, and sponsored the 1962 Gusing mission designed to ease strained Thai-Cambodian relations.
The United Nations’ responsibilities for keeping the peace and mediating the dispute in Cyprus promises to come up several times during the 19th session.[Page 680]
As long as the security situation on Cyprus remains relatively stable, the focus of the dispute will be the assembly debate which will probably start after the first of the year. President Makarios or his foreign minister is expected to attend the debate, for which the President has laid the groundwork by his moderating tactics toward the Turkish Cypriots. Makarios will probably seek support for the unrestricted independence of Cyprus, and judging by the ardent pro-independence sentiments of the great majority of UN members, he is likely to receive strong backing. Turkey for its part will try to have the treaties on Cyprus recognized as valid but may find itself on the defensive.
The Security Council faces the question of extending the mandate for the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) when the present one expires on 26 December. The operation requires voluntary financing and the Scandinavians have indicated willingness to maintain their contingents on the island. Although the operation is generally recognized to have been instrumental in preventing civil war on the island, it has nevertheless not been popular in various parliaments and finance ministries, and it may be necessary to reduce the 6,000-man force, perhaps even to an observer group. Makarios has indicated his willingness to keep a UN force on Cyprus, but he may believe that a reduced force and a more restricted mandate would give him greater maneuverability.
The most important development in the Cyprus matter is expected about March, when UN mediator Galo Plaza submits a report on his efforts to find a permanent solution to the dispute. Plaza has indicated that unless the principal parties can reach an agreed solution he will recommend an independent Cyprus with minority guarantees. He may also suggest a subsequent referendum on self-determination. Plaza personally believes union of Cyprus with Greece would best serve Western interests, but in the absence of agreement to it he apparently feels unfettered independence is the only alternative. Makarios will know how to use a UN report along these lines to support his own efforts to achieve a fully sovereign Cyprus.
Cuba and Latin America
Heartened by support from the nonaligned countries at the recent Cairo conference, from the Soviet Government, and from Algeria, Cuba is expected to take its promised diplomatic offensive against the US to the floor of the General Assembly. Cuba apparently hopes thus to use world opinion to force Washington to move toward acceptance of the Castro regime. The Cairo conference denounced US economic pressures on Cuba and called on the US to evacuate Guantanamo and settle its differences with Havana. Cuba can be expected to repeat these demands and perhaps call on the General Assembly, in addition, to denounce US violations of Cuban airspace.[Page 681]
Among other Latin American issues, Bolivia may present its case against Chile for alleged interference with Bolivia’s right of passage to the sea. Argentina may embarrass its Western friends by pressing its claims to sovereignty over the British-held Falkland Islands.
The Afro-Asians are determined to pursue in the coming session their bitter attacks on all forms of colonialism. The communiqué of the Cairo conference of nonaligned nations3 gave greatest attention to the condemnation of colonialism, neocolonialism, and racial discrimination—calling for economic sanctions and even use of force to defeat the colonizing powers. Portugal, South Africa, and Rhodesia will come under particularly heavy attack. The Arabs will probably state their case against Britain for its refusal to implement UN resolutions on Aden, Oman, and the South Arabian peninsula. The US, UK, and France may come in for criticism for not granting independence to their Caribbean possessions, and to their Pacific trust territories.
South Africa’s apartheid policies and its hold on South West Africa will again be denounced, and pressures for sanctions against Pretoria are likely to increase. The Security Council has established a special committee to study the effect various economic measures would have on the economy of South Africa, and the committee is considering everything—up to a complete embargo enforced by a blockade.
Even if Rhodesia does not unilaterally declare its independence, the Salisbury government and possibly the UK will come in for heavy criticism. If Ian Smith’s government does declare its independence, it will find itself faced with the same violent opposition now being experienced by South Africa.
Portugal rounds out the list as one of the least popular governments in the eyes of Afro-Asians. Already in trouble for its Angola policy, Portugal may now face even greater problems in the UN as a result of the recent stirrings in Mozambique. As before, majority sentiment in the UN will urge the US to support sanctions against a NATO ally.
The UN membership is likely to exert heavier pressure than ever for progress on disarmament. The General Assembly will probably offer substantive recommendations and show a greater reluctance to leave issues with the 18-Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, where so little has been achieved.[Page 682]
There are already six items on the assembly’s agenda relating to disarmament, including proposals for general and complete disarmament, further restriction of nuclear testing, a ban-the-bomb conference, and agreement on nondissemination of nuclear weapons. In addition, U Thant has called for disarmament talks among the five nuclear powers and there already is growing feeling that Peiping should be included in any disarmament talks under UN auspices as a result of the Chinese nuclear detonation.
Nondissemination proposals are likely to be of chief interest. The Cairo conference urged all states to conclude nondissemination agreements, and proposals for the denuclearization of Africa, the Indian Ocean area, and Latin America may be discussed. The Soviet Union will have ample opportunity to exploit this sentiment by launching a campaign against the multilateral nuclear force (MLF). India and the UAR have already indicated some opposition to the MLF on grounds it may constitute nuclear proliferation. France for reasons of its own may be able to increase UN opposition to the MLF.
Cuba may take advantage of the disarmament discussions to attack the presence of foreign bases on its soil.
Rich vs. Poor
As on such political questions as colonialism, the West may also find itself under fire on economic matters.
At the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva last summer, a group of 75 (now 77) less developed countries formed a surprisingly cohesive bloc which at times produced overwhelming majorities for panaceas for their problems which were largely unpalatable to the more developed. In effect UNCTAD took on the appearance of a confrontation of the poor and the rich, with the latter on the defensive. The “haves” were constrained to argue that the “have-nots” must focus more on their responsibilities and cannot expect, for example, to attain higher prices for their goods merely by producing large votes.
In UNCTAD the less developed nations have erected within the UN framework a piece of machinery geared primarily to considering the formulation of new trade and development programs for their benefit. During the current session the prospects are that resolutions will be passed formalizing institutional arrangements and endorsing the recommendations made by UNCTAD last June. In brief, the poorer countries desire higher prices for their commodities and lower prices for manufactured goods and they may try to commit the wealthier countries to transfer capital to them, to provide greater access to their primary products, and generally to eliminate discriminatory [Page 683]measures against the developing countries. UNCTAD could also provide a springboard for an assault on trade principles such as most-favored-nation treatment as embodied in GATT—a forum allegedly serving the rich nations at the expense of the poor.
The assembly will again be faced with several “hardy perennial” issues such as the Arab-Israeli dispute, the Korean item, Kashmir, and Tibet.
The Arabs may be confident this year that they will win greater support for their case against Israel, and the recent Israeli-Syrian clash may add heat to the debate. Specifically, the Arab states will again resist efforts to rectify abuses of the refugee relief program, claiming such moves are in reality designed to reduce the UN’s role in supporting the refugees. The Arabs will try to obtain recognition for the new “Palestine Liberation Organization,” which aspires to represent all Palestinians.
In opposition to Arab maneuvers, the Israelis can usually expect either the support or the neutrality of the Western powers and of many African, Asian, and Latin American countries. As a countermove, Israel may sponsor or encourage another resolution advocating direct negotiations between it and the Arab states—a proposal the Arabs have consistently rejected because of the implicit recognition of Israel such negotiations would involve.
Each year since 1954 the General Assembly has voted for a resolution calling for the “achievement by peaceful means of a unified, independent, and democratic Korea under a representative form of government, and full restoration of international peace and security in the area.” The resolution has not brought unification any closer, and the annual debate may even prove disadvantageous to South Korea. The Seoul government is still anxious to uphold the UN’s competence in unification even though it is increasingly doubtful that the UN can accomplish anything. If the resolution achieves fewer votes this year than last, opposition elements in South Korea may accuse the government of allowing international support to dwindle away.
Other governments will want pet resolutions passed either to bolster support at home or give themselves a lift on the international scene. The Dalai Lama will have such sympathizers as Nicaragua and El Salvador sponsor a resolution regretting the Tibetans’ loss of human rights, Tshombé may provoke an African walkout if he appears before the assembly to present his case on the Congo, and the landlocked nations may declare for their right of passage to the sea. The issues are endless, often tiring, if not seemingly ludicrous, but nevertheless ever present and sometimes even vital to the governments concerned.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Miscellaneous Memos. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence.↩
- Not printed; page 4 contains a country-by-country vote estimate, that concluded the vote would be 51 for seating Communist China, 49 opposed, and 15 abstaining.↩
- A summary of the conference, October 5–10, together with pertinent portions of the text of the communiqué is in Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1964, pp. 20433–20434.↩