430. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations 1

190014. Subject: Voluntary Contributions to Overcome UN Financial Deficit.

We doubt that Cuevas’ initiative on voluntary contributions is likely to be constructive. Indeed, it appears designed primarily to put pressure on US to move first on a contribution and make us share onus for Soviet-French stalling on making substantial voluntary contributions.
However, should Cuevas follow through with contemplated approach to Ambassador Ball,2 we should say first move is up to Sovs and French and we will then see what we can do.
Suggest following stance be taken.
We recognize that UN financial problem is key concern both in terms of overall UN capacity and in its effect on financing future peacekeeping. US prepared to cooperate in restoring UN solvency, and can be counted on to meet our fair share of UN costs. We believe it could be useful for Secretariat to update the current deficit estimate of Committee of 14. More than two years ago Committee 14 established low “current deficit” figure of $31.9 million and high figure of $53.3 million, after deducting voluntary contributions already made or pledged. We continue to accept higher figure which embodies “surplus accounts” since we believe UN has real obligation to refund credits owed countries that paid their peacekeeping assessments in cases [Page 927] where appropriations exceeded actual expenditures. Although SYG in introduction to Annual Report for 1966–67 presented revised estimate for lower deficit figure he failed to update high figure incorporating surplus accounts.
At very outset of any discussions on deficit it is important to put matter in correct perspective. Entire responsibility for meeting deficit through voluntary contributions rests on Sovs, French and others who refused to pay their peacekeeping expenses and thus brought about the financial crisis. Understanding in 1965 was that USSR and France would make substantial contributions as quid pro quo for not pressing applicability of Article 19 to ONUC and UNEF arrears. Though face-saving language called for substantial contributions from highly developed countries without distinction, clearly our position is very different from Soviets and French. We particularly reject new interpretation of history that Soviet-French contributions should be contingent on ours, or that contributions should be “harmonized,” which Sovs and French have inspired in recent years.
FYI. Reasons for insisting on setting history straight with Cuevas and others is not only to avoid sharing onus with defaulters for UN financial plight, but also to reject suggestion that any US contribution would be equated or “harmonized” with theirs. As you aware, if contribution ever eventuates it will consist of write-offs on bills due us for Congo support ($4.5 million) and waiving all or part of $9 million due us on ONUC surplus accounts. Soviet-French contributions would necessarily be new money. To put us in same frame of reference would make our contribution look phony or paltry. End FYI.
Consequently, first move is up to Soviets and French and Cuevas should knock on their door first. As USUN will recall, in exchange with Goldberg in April 1967 (USUN 5094)3 Kuznetsov laid great stress on finding out what US would do if Soviets made voluntary contribution to overcome deficit. At no time have we had firm and explicit indication from Soviets and French as to size of their “substantial” contributions. (As you will recall, it has been generally accepted that serious offer from Sovs and French must total cash contributions of $25 million, based on previous deficit estimates.)
In interest of restoring UN solvency and moving on peacekeeping, once Sovs and French make firm commitments we would examine seriously and speedily what US could do.
FYI. We would have Congressional problems with any voluntary contribution to UN at this time in view of budgetary situation and continued [Page 928] memories of unfortunate history of GA refusal to force Soviets to pay peacekeeping arrears. A substantial Soviet contribution would take some of the edge off this criticism. Even so, as you aware, rationale and public presentation of our contribution would need to be carefully framed (for example we would maintain that the arrears remain on the books). We recognize that, irrespective of merits, dispute over UN finances and UN peacekeeping has had cold war overtones and impaired UN effectiveness. We are prepared to cooperate in efforts to return the UN to a sound financial basis. However, the responsibility and the first move is up to the other side, and any approach to be practical must take account of above realities. End FYI.
Welcome your comments.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–4 UN. Confidential. Drafted by Pelcovits; cleared in OIA, UNP, and L; and approved by Sisco.
  2. Ambassador Goldberg left post on June 24; Ambassador George Ball presented his credentials on June 26.
  3. Dated April 29. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–4 UN)