418. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1
MAJOR ISSUES OF THE 22nd UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Four principal issues will tend to dominate the proceedings of the 22nd United Nations General Assembly which convenes on [Page 901] September 19th, whether or not these issues become a formal part of the agenda.
1. Middle East
It is still possible, though unlikely, the Security Council will meet before the Assembly opens. If it does and reaches agreement on some forward movement (e.g., the appointment of a mediator), there will be less focus in the Assembly on the Middle East. In all likelihood, however, there seems no way to avoid full dress consideration of the whole range of Middle East questions in the Assembly. The Emergency Special Session is likely to be reconvened before the regular Session and, after a brief discussion of Jerusalem and possibly of the refugee problem, to refer all Middle East items to the regular Session. There, our main problem will be to insure there is no erosion in the position of the majority of the Emergency Session that a Middle East settlement requires at a minimum both the withdrawal of Israeli forces and acceptance by the Arabs of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, free of claims or acts of belligerency. Proposals of the type advanced by Tito will pose serious tactical difficulties. As time goes by, with Israel continuing its occupation of Arab territory and with some conciliatory statements by countries such as Jordan, pressures will mount on Israel to show greater magnanimity than they are now showing. The Israelis’ position has hardened and the Arabs show no sign of a willingness to make a concrete act of renouncing belligerency.
We are exploring the feasibility of the Security Council adopting a resolution calling for a conference to achieve a permanent settlement of the Vietnam problem in accordance with the Geneva agreements. We will know before the opening of the General Assembly whether we are able to mobilize the necessary nine votes to inscribe the matter on the agenda. If the Security Council should decide to consider this matter, which is doubtful, the likelihood of formal substantive results is not great in view of the continuing negative attitude regarding UN involvement held by Hanoi, Peking, Paris and Moscow.
In any event, Vietnam will be on the minds of most delegates. Over 100 Foreign Ministers will at one time or another be in attendance, and this will afford Secretary Rusk and Ambassador Goldberg the opportunity in private discussions to make our policy clear. Last year the fact that we put forward a new proposal, consistent with our overall basic approach, provided many of our friends with the opportunity to come out publicly in the [Page 902] general debate in support of our position. We will want to make a positive statement of our position on Vietnam in the general debate speech. This statement will be prepared over the next ten days and submitted to the President for review.
3. Non-Proliferation Treaty and Related Issue of Security Assurances for Non-Nuclear Powers
The best result would be if the ENDC over the next four to six weeks could achieve agreement on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including Article 3, and therefore be in a position to present it to the General Assembly for its endorsement at a late stage in its proceedings. This has been our prime objective. However, the more likely situation will probably be that the ENDC will suspend its deliberations soon and the discussion of the NPT in the Assembly will be in circumstances in which there is no agreement on Article 3. Some of the non-aligned will seek to mobilize support for inclusion of a security assurances article in the Treaty. Our objective should be, in concert with the USSR, to maintain the present Non-Proliferation Treaty intact, to try to assure certain of the non-aligned of our willingness to consider the assurances problem within the context of a UN resolution. We ought to be able to manage the debate, with the assistance of the Soviet Union, so as to give the non-aligned an opportunity to express their views and make their criticisms without upsetting the agreement thus far achieved between the US and the USSR. Our aim should be to have the matter returned to the ENDC so that further attention can be given to Article 3 and consultations can be undertaken within the ENDC to see whether the assurances problem can be taken care of in the form of a UN resolution.
4. African Problems
The pattern of these questions in the UN is relatively unchanging. In their desire to produce movement and to force changes in the status quo, the black African delegations press for measures which go beyond what we can accept despite the fact that we are in general agreement with the goals. Our failure since the 21st GA to meet African expectations that the US would be more forthcoming on southern African issues will make us a target for more widespread attacks than in the past. Nonetheless, we should continue with positions that discourage illusions, among others, that the US might be willing to move further than we know to be the case.
South West Africa
The Special Assembly Session in April–June 1967 established a UN Council for South West Africa to administer the territory which was instructed to report to the 22nd General Assembly. Its activities so far have been confined to preparing a letter to the South African Government requesting its cooperation in implementing UN resolutions [Page 903] on South West Africa. If the Council limits its report in this way, it may be that the Assembly will simply recommend cooperation with the Council and be willing to hold off on other action pending further Council activity. In view of the new proposals for legislation of South West Africa made by Vorster, it can be anticipated the Africans will press for stronger measures this year. Since we have gone as far as we can in meeting African demands on South West Africa and are not in a position to support recommendations for more forceful measures against South Africa, such as sanctions, we plan to try to persuade the Africans that the best interim course is to permit the Council to undertake such activities as it can, to maintain pressure on South Africa and to discourage it from further implementation of the Odendaal plan calling for establishment of “bantustans” in the Territory.
The Security Council imposed selective mandatory sanctions against Southern Rhodesia in December 1966. The Assembly will be convening at a time when the sanctions will have been in effect about nine months without any visible effect. Consequently, we can expect further African demands for broader sanctions, and for the use of force, as well as condemnation of those countries who appear to be violating them. Our efforts in the Assembly will be to cooperate with the British, whatever the state of their own discussions with the Smith regime, in counseling moderation and in seeking to prevent the Assembly from recommending measures that go beyond what we consider reasonable.
5. Other Developments
General Assembly Presidency
For the first time in its history the Assembly will have a Communist President, the Rumanian Foreign Minister, Manescu. In the absence of any other candidate, we expect to support him and he is likely to be a competent and objective presiding officer.
Developments on the mainland continue to work in our favor on this issue which should be manageable this year. We will seek as pro forma a consideration of this matter as possible. The present vote count indicates sufficient support to defeat the traditional resolution seeking to substitute Red China for the Republic of China and to reaffirm that this issue is an important question requiring a two-thirds vote. However, we will have to watch carefully to see whether there are significant Arab defections as a result of bitterness over the Middle East which, combined with a few changes in the African line-up, could jeopardize our position. In view of the uncertainty of the tactical situation, we have kept open the option of going alone with an Italian Study [Page 904] Committee. This proposal was welcomed last year as some evidence of forward movement and was useful in helping to mobilize a substantial vote in support of our position.
We will continue to give strong support to the United Nations peacekeeping role demonstrating this through our financial contributions to pay for the costs of the United Nations force in Cyprus and the United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East and Kashmir. Fundamental constitutional differences between the US and the USSR will not be bridged, and we can expect no lightening of the financial burden of the UN from the Soviet Union or France who have been unwilling to make any voluntary contributions to date. We would welcome the demise of the GA committee studying this problem.
We are developing a possible US proposal which would call for: (i) GA establishment of a Committee on the Oceans similar to the Outer Space Committee; (ii) an outline for a Declaration of Legal Principles to Govern the Activities on the Ocean Floor; (iii) a proposal for a marine science reserve in the Pacific; and (iv) a suggestion for a Decade of Exploration and Development of the Resources of the Deep Sea to begin in 1970. This proposal is still being cleared in the interested parts of the Government.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings File. Secret. Forwarded to members of the National Security Council by Bromley Smith under cover of a september 8 memorandum. (Ibid., Meeting Notes File)↩