351. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1


  • Financing of UN Peacekeeping-Status Report
When the 19th General Assembly adjourned in February, the Members generally agreed that an energetic effort should be made to settle the impasse brought about by the U.S.S.R.’s refusal to pay its share of past peacekeeping assessments. Accordingly, over the past couple months, there have been some talks about the problem in two UN forums—(a) in private consultations by the Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly with the leading powers and (b) in the Committee of 33, a large, bulky group, expressly set up by the General Assembly to deal with the peacekeeping/financial problem.

The substance of the talks can be divided fairly neatly into two parts—future peacekeeping, and arrearages for past peacekeeping. With respect to the talks about future peacekeeping, the effort essentially has been to find a system which would define, in a manner acceptable to the leading powers especially, the respective roles of the Security Council and General Assembly in future peacekeeping operations (including financing). Generally speaking, the Russians have been sticking to their line that the General Assembly has no action role in peacekeeping operations while we have been sticking to our line that the General Assembly does have a role even though the Security Council’s role is primary. As for financing, the Russians generally say that this is also a matter for the Security Council to decide, while we say that all options on financing should be kept open, including assessments as laid down by the General Assembly.

The upshot of the discussions on future peacekeeping is that we don’t expect the question to be solved any time soon. This does not bother us very much—e.g., we don’t think there is a direct relationship between this question and an Article 19 solution; also, the General Assembly will be able to operate without coming to an early agreement on future peacekeeping operations.

But the question of arrearages for past peacekeeping operations does bother us since this, of course, is the essence of the Article 19 impasse. Up to now, there has been some talk, but no real action, about [Page 762] setting up a voluntary fund and getting a large enough contribution from the U.S.S.R. to settle the Article 19 problem.
To guess about the future, the scenario at the UN on the peacekeeping/financial problem may turn out to be roughly as follows: First, the talks on future peacekeeping will tail off when it becomes obvious that nothing will be settled soon. Second, as the September deadline gets close, real UN pressure will build up to solve the arrearages problem through voluntary contributions; this is beginning to happen. Third, if we are getting nowhere by mid-summer, we may try to work out some sort of package deal with the Russians—e.g., in return for adequate, Soviet contribution, we would promise to insure that the Russians will not be assessed for future peacekeeping operations to which they fundamentally object. Fourth, if the Russians do not buy our package, they will probably wait until the last minute and then contribute $10 or $15 million to the voluntary fund—which will not be enough to settle Article 19 to our satisfaction but which will tend to persuade many UN Members that the “reasonable” Russians should not lose their General Assembly vote.
If the Russians fail to contribute enough and the General Assembly appears unwilling to invoke Article 19, what then? The most prevalent view these days is that we should probably not try to force a confrontation with the Russians, which we probably couldn’t get and which we well might lose if we did get it. Instead, we should probably indicate, before or during the debate, (a) that the decision about applying Article 19 is one for the General Assembly to make; (b) that we hope the Assembly will uphold its mandatory financial authority and impartially apply Article 19; and (c) that, if the decision is otherwise, we will draw the consequences for our own future contributions. In short, we would not invoke Article 19 and assume no one else would.
The reaction to such a U.S. posture might be relatively tolerable. In general, most foreign countries would welcome it as an end to General Assembly incapacitation. Domestically, we could probably sell the line, either publically or on background, (a) that the decision not to invoke Article 19 is a General Assembly, and not a U.S., decision, (b) that it does not make good sense to “ruin” the UN over a few million dollars, and (c) that this particular cloud may have a silver lining—i.e., there may be times when we, too, will not want to pay assessments for certain UN peacekeeping operations.
McG.B. 2
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Article 19, Vol. 2. Confidential.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.