393. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

TWENTY-FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY: SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES

I. General

The forthcoming General Assembly Session, faced with the Secretary General’s intention not to continue in office, will open in an atmosphere of uncertainty and depression. Moreover, the outlook is for a good deal of sharp discussion of the hardy perennials on the General Assembly’s agenda, particularly African questions, and for hard slogging on those few items which have moved into a substantially different stage. Controversy over Viet-Nam, which is not now on the Assembly’s agenda, will figure heavily in the general debate and will probably preclude substantial Soviet-American cooperation in the Assembly, except possibly on outer space matters.

The annual assemblage of prominent figures from all over the globe will afford an excellent opportunity to restate the fundamentals of our policy on Viet-Nam. We shall stress our desire to open channels of negotiation with the other side and remind UN members where responsibility for continuation of the war lies. Nevertheless, we will be subjected to heavy pressure to cease the bombardment of North Viet-Nam. In the absence of such a gesture, there is no indication that the discussion on Viet-Nam would result in anything other than a stand-off.

The voting power of the Africans and their Asian friends will again dominate the Assembly’s decision-making activities. The Africans enter this Session in a mood of frustration and bitterness. No headway has been made on the hard core problems of Southern Africa—the Portuguese territories, Southern Rhodesia, South West Africa, and apartheid—and the July 18 decision of the International Court of Justice has at least temporarily blocked off one route toward the mandatory sanctions which the Africans seek to apply. We need to consider carefully how we can best channel African thinking in the direction of constructive and effective measures, and how we can counteract the African tendency to vote on non-African issues not on their merits, but in terms of the attitudes of governments towards South African problems.

Disarmament will occupy much of the session.

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As usual, we shall have difficulties in keeping disarmament resolutions within limits acceptable to the United States, especially in the areas of nuclear proliferation and nuclear testing.

Chinese representation will remain one of the critical issues, and it will be more difficult to protect the position of the GRC. We will seek to place the onus for the exclusion of Communist China on the Communist Chinese themselves and stress our determined opposition to any move to replace the GRC by the PRC.

Beyond these contentious issues, we will continue our support for the important ongoing work of the UN in the peacekeeping field as well as its economic and technical assistance programs.

One of the few areas which may offer an opening for a new U.S. initiative is the field of marine resources; appropriate proposals are being developed.

II. African Problems

(A)
Rhodesia—The failure of UN-supported sanctions to bring down the Smith regime, and the interminable and inconclusive British negotiations with Smith, have strengthened the Afro-Asian distrust of British and, to some degree American motives in respect to this problem. It seems unlikely that the British can present the forthcoming Assembly with any solid indications of progress. Our own position is difficult. We must keep the British in front on this question; the resources we can devote to a solution are very strictly limited. Recognizing the British Government’s difficulties in dealing with the situation, we must press it not to make concessions which will undercut the six principles on the basis of which they started the negotiations. At the same time, we must help the UK in its efforts to prevent the Assembly from moving on to more extreme anti-Rhodesian measures until the negotiations have reached some conclusion.
(B)

South West Africa—The failure of the International Court of Justice to grapple with the substance of the South West Africa case in its July 18 decision has at least temporarily blocked a promising road for forward movement on this problem. Resort to South West Africa proceedings under Article 94 of the UN Charter to mobilize the international community against apartheid in South West Africa is now impossible. The possibility of bringing the West and the Africans together in a course of constructive action is perhaps smaller than ever.

The Assembly will give priority attention to South West Africa, with discussion of this item running concurrently with the General Debate. The Africans will undoubtedly press for an early decision on revocation of the mandate. While we would not wish to take a stand which appeared merely a spoiling or delaying action, our interests [Page 854]would be best served if the initial phase of debate resulted in another Assembly appeal for South Africa to comply with its reporting requirements, and establishment of a Committee to make recommendations during the final weeks of the session in light of South Africa’s response. It would also be in our interest if the Africans would agree to ask for a further opinion from the reconstituted ICJ as to whether the Assembly has authority to revoke the mandate. It is questionable, however, whether the Africans will be patient enough for either of these moves, and we must be prepared to take a stand at the opening of the session on the question of revoking the mandate. While it would be desirable for political reasons to support revocation, we would need to assure that such a stance would not imply a commitment to take the enforcement action which would probably be required to give reality to revocation.

(C)
Apartheid—The prospects for forward movement in the Assembly with respect to apartheid are equally slim. There is no sign that the Verwoerd Government has any intention of relaxing its apartheid policies in any way. We must continue to register our strong opposition to the policy of apartheid. We will have to decide how to vote on a resolution which, as in 1965, would “take no decision” on South African credentials in the General Assembly. There is a risk that if such action is taken, South Africa will withdraw from the Assembly and perhaps from the UN this year.
(D)
Portuguese Territories—The African racial problems which center on Rhodesia and South Africa have their colonial complement in Portuguese policy, which remains comparably unyielding. The Africans are expected to press for a total arms embargo and the application of economic sanctions against Portugal itself. We must again oppose such moves while continuing to press Portugal to move toward self-determination for the peoples of her African territories, including an option for independence.
(E)
A Possible Next Step in Africa—Confronted with these intractable African colonial and racial issues, on which emotions run so high and the scope for future action is so limited, we need to demonstrate our concern over the lack of progress. Otherwise conditions in southern Africa may deteriorate even more rapidly; and the Africans’ exasperation over what they regard as our immobility will force them into a position highly unpalatable to us on matters like Chinese Representation, Viet-Nam and disarmament. In the longer range, this situation would weaken our position in Africa, stimulate increasingly radical initiatives by the Africans regarding southern African problems, and further diminish the UN’s credit not only in Africa but across the board.
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In order to help meet this situation, consideration should be given to an announcement in our General Debate speech that in the light of our opposition to minority governments in southern Africa and the unwillingness of these governments to open the way for orderly transition to majority rule, the United States considers further American investment in the area economically risky and politically undesirable; for this reason we will no longer guarantee American investment or credits there, and will warn American business interests not to invest further. We should also consider whether to stop encouraging trade with southern Africa and whether to oppose further investment of funds there via international agencies, including the IBRD. Such a policy would apply immediately to the Portuguese territories, South West Africa and South Africa; but only provisionally to Rhodesia pending the outcome of UK talks with Smith.

In addition, we should announce whatever follow-up is possible to the President’s proclaimed intention to increase cooperation with African states. The Korry report provides useful proposals in this field, especially with respect to measures for agricultural research and development.

III. Disarmament

In view of the failure of the ENDC to register progress on any issue since the last General Assembly, we must anticipate increased restiveness about the need for movement. This is particularly true with regard to the dangers involved in the probability of further proliferation of nuclear weapons. Failure of the United States to take the initiative and give a new lead in the disarmament area would give us no counter to unpalatable but superficially attractive Bloc or non-aligned proposals. Accordingly, we should advance some new proposals publicly along the lines described below. In addition discussions with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko will afford an opportunity to probe other possibilities (this will be covered in another paper).

A.
Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Sharing. To help discourage non-nuclear powers such as India from seeking acquisition of nuclear weapons, we could volunteer to join in support of an Assembly resolution which would give assurance to non-nuclear states that others would come to their assistance in the event they are the object of nuclear attack. We would need to hedge this sufficiently so that we are not committed to a particular type or scale of assistance in any given situation. Moreover, we must anticipate a Soviet riposte based on their non-first-use proposal.
B.
Extension of Test Ban Agreement. Efforts to reach agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty remain deadlocked on the issue of verification. Our past position has required on-site inspections. In the meantime, our seismic detection capabilities have so improved that we can [Page 856]detect and distinguish from earthquakes almost all man-made underground explosions above a seismic magnitude of 4.75. For a new impetus in this area, we could propose extending the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty to prohibit underground tests above a seismic magnitude of 4.75.

IV. Outer Space

President Johnson’s proposal for a treaty to govern the exploration of outer space and celestial bodies was greatly advanced by the work of the Legal Subcommittee of the Outer Space Committee this summer. A few substantial points of difference remain between the USSR and the majority of the Subcommittee, led by the United States. Whether these differences will be ironed out before the Assembly or aired in it remains to be seen; in either event, our posture should be good. We already have agreement within the government on several fall-back positions which can be used to good public relations advantage whenever appropriate in the negotiating situation in New York. For example, these include such points as readiness to delete an explicit provision in the treaty authorizing the use of military equipment and personnel in outer space, as well as more flexible language on access to installations on celestial bodies.

V. Peacekeeping

We can expect no progress on new arrangements for authorizing or financing peacekeeping operations. Given the stone-wall attitude of the USSR, the report of the Committee of 33 will contain no substantive recommendations for improving peacekeeping preparations or devising reliable and practical measures for financing. In addition, the continued failure of the USSR and France to come through with their long promised voluntary contribution to restore UN solvency casts a shadow over the fiscal integrity of the organization.

Our interests lie in preventing a regression from the UN capacity to meet threats to the peace, in improving the psychological climate in support of peacekeeping operations, in keeping open options for peacekeeping even where there is no unanimity, in assuring the widest possible cost sharing in the financing of UN peacekeeping. We should also seek to increase the pressures of the members on the delinquents to persuade them to come through with their contributions.

Four possible steps we could take to strengthen peacekeeping possibilities and as an earnest of our continued support of UN peace actions are:

1.

Earmarking of Logistical Services

In the past our crucial contribution (apart from money) has been airlift and other types of logistical support. We have said we need not [Page 857]earmark particular units since we can call on the vast range of our military capabilities to respond to a UN call on short notice. However, as a concrete and dramatic manifestation of our support, we could announce the earmarking of specific air-transport units to be available on short notice to airlift UN troops.

2.

Aid to Earmarkers

Last year we proposed a UN program to help countries that are unable to assume the full burdens of training and equipping units for UN service. We could follow this up by proposing a US program to train and equip UN-committed units by earmarking nations. This program might initially be linked to the military assistance program (MAP) which provides a statutory base for such assistance to certain countries.

3.

Peacekeeping Fund

We could propose that the GA examine the possibilities of establishing a peace fund, available for the initial financing of UN peacekeeping operations and as a supplement to other financing methods. Voluntary contributions and perhaps independent sources of income could feed revenue into such a fund. A US proposal for a peace fund for the UN would imply our readiness to make a contribution.

4.

Special Scale of Contributions to Peacekeeping

The Irish delegation will probably again propose a special scale of assessments to be applied to major peacekeeping operations. As we said last year we could not agree to a mandatory assessment above one-third to be applied to all operations which we politically support (as the Irish propose). However, we could agree to a fair apportionment above one-third, considered as a non-mandatory contribution on our part. This would follow up our commitment last year to the principle of a special scale. In practice we have paid more than 40%—in some cases close to 50%—of the cost of certain operations through combined assessments and voluntary payments. We could indicate that for major operations we supported we would be prepared to pay our share of a special fair-apportionment scale—up to 40% of the cost. As in the case of UNEF apportionments, we could treat such payments as voluntary contributions so that the question of the legislative limit does not arise.

In the meantime, important UN peacekeeping work goes on in the Near East, Cyprus, and Kashmir. While grumbling about their costs will increase, we expect the Assembly will again adopt a budget for UNEF close to its present level; and when the mandate of the Cyprus force requires extension again in December by the Security Council, we assume that the previous contributors or most of them will once more reluctantly find the necessary financial means to keep it going.

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VI. Chinese Representation

According to our present count, there are 35 UN members whose votes are uncertain on Chinese representation. The situation is increasingly volatile, and the uncertain votes will determine the outcome. Our objective will be to prevent the replacement of the GRC by the PRC.

VII. Secretary General

The Secretary General has announced his intention not to accept another term. Whether he may be responsive to a more limited draft is problematical. If he is not, a major dispute over a successor is possible, and we may face a new crisis in the UN. Our planning must cover this contingency. In such circumstances our strategy would be to press for the maintenance of the office of Secretary General in its full integrity. We would urge U Thant to continue in office on a temporary basis until a successor is found.

VIII. Other Political Issues

Hardy perennials such as Palestine refugees and Korea will continue to engender much heat but little progress. On UNRWA we will again have to challenge provision of rations by UNRWA to the PLA and take a middle position between the maneuverings of Israel and the Arab states for political advantage over the refugee issue. Having turned down Israel’s unrealistic proposal for a solution of the refugee problem based on compensation (paid by the US) without repatriation, we must expect Israel to dig in and say no forward movement is possible. But based on previous history of Assembly action on this subject, it also seems unlikely the Arabs can expect their position to be materially improved by Assembly action.

Recent noises from Pyong Yang raise the prospect of a more flexible approach by North Korea to the traditional item on Korea, which is likely to be more difficult to cope with than in recent years.

IX. Economic and Social

In the economic sphere, the most notable proposal will be that for the adoption of the Charter of the UN’s Organization for Industrial Development (UNOID), a proposal which we will support (perhaps with certain amendments if these have general support). We shall continue to oppose establishment of a UN Capital Development Fund or the UNDP’s transformation into one. We shall also wish to emphasize the importance of agricultural development and family planning, particularly in the LDCs.

In the social sphere, the major challenge will be that of adoption of implementing procedures for the Covenants on Civil and Political, and [Page 859]Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. While the drafts of the covenants contain implementation procedures which appear to be in advance of what the UN traffic will bear, we will probably wish to press for implementation procedures which, though less far-reaching than the present drafts, will still be substantial.

X. Legal

In the legal sphere, we shall seek to prevent adulteration of Charter principles in the context of “friendly relations” and, more broadly, will endeavor to hold the Assembly to appropriate standards of constitutionalism and orderly procedure. In view of the practical inability of the Assembly to influence the major political problems of Viet-Nam, colonialism and racism, restricting the consequent frustrations to constitutional channels may prove to be one of the major challenges of the 21st Session. This problem will be magnified as a result of disillusionment with the ICJ ruling on South West Africa. In fact, the election of new judges to the Court will be heavily influenced by the outcome.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 4. Confidential. Drafted in IO on August 31.