101. Airgram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1
- Third Committee—Evaluation
The Third Committee turned in a mixed, but essentially satisfactory performance during the 26th General Assembly. Most noteworthy accomplishments were in the areas of disaster relief; refugees; human rights in armed conflict; narcotics; UNICEF. Less than satisfactory performance was noted on agenda items concerning the world social situation; racial discrimination; self-determination; and town-twinning. The most glaring failure was inadequate attention devoted to the item on creation of a post of High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) and deferral to the 28th session of the General Assembly. The atmosphere was more restrained than last year although there were exchanges between the Arabs and Israelis; Pakistan and India; the US and USSR on politically sensitive issues; and between the US and certain African countries concerning policies in southern Africa. Seven members or alternates of the US Delegation participated in the committee at one point or another. All made major contributions to the excellent performance by the Delegation in the committee. End Summary.
The Third Committee turned in a mixed, but essentially satisfactory performance during the 26th GA. Most noteworthy accomplishments were in the areas of disaster relief; refugees; human rights in armed conflict; narcotics; UNICEF. Less than satisfactory performance was noted on agenda items concerning the world social situation; racial discrimination; self-determination; and town-twinning. The most glaring failure was inadequate attention devoted to the item on creation of a post of High Commissioner for Human Rights and deferral to the 28th session of the GA.
The committee has traditionally been noted for wide ranging and highly political debate. This continued to be the case during the 26th GA on such emotional issues as racial discrimination, self-determination, and the HCHR. On the other hand, delegates exhibited a high degree of statesmanship in the discussion of disaster relief, refugees, human rights in armed conflict, UNICEF, and narcotics.[Page 196]
On balance, the atmosphere in the committee was more restrained than last year largely because of prior agreement on the agenda which avoided prolonged procedural debates. The filibuster technique was employed again by the EEs and Arabs in order to avoid or to minimize discussion of the contentious item of the HCHR. This maneuver was successful and the item was not considered until the last week of the session. The proponents of the HCHR, recognizing that they had been outmaneuvered, did not seek to press it to a vote.
The Arabs and Israelis traded exchanges on several occasions but they were more restrained than in previous years. The EEs and Cuba were the only delegations to attack US Vietnam policies and racial discrimination in the US although a number of African countries were critical of US policies in southern Africa. The US delegation took a harder line this year on Soviet repression, including treatment of the Jewish minority.
The US was represented in the committee at various times by Congressman Derwinski, Mr. Moynihan, Admiral Shepard, Mr. Fletcher, Mrs. O’Donnell and Ambassadors Bennett and Zagorin. This policy of assigning delegates to specific items proved to be more effective than the former practice of assigning one delegate full time to the committee. The delegates appreciated the variety of exposure to items of particular interest and they brought fresh and imaginative approaches to the committee. The impact on other delegations was highly favorable since they were impressed by the special attention and importance given by the US delegation to each item. The Mission is convinced that its delegation made an excellent impression in the committee and that individual performances by members of the delegation were outstanding.
Comment on specific agenda items follows:
[Omitted here are comments on action on disaster relief, refugees, world social situation, racial discrimination, self-determination, human rights in armed conflict, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nazism and racial intolerance, war criminals, elderly and aged, UNICEF, Declaration on Rights of the Mentally Retarded, drug abuse control, capital punishment, town twinning, status of the International Human Rights Convention, and items deferred.]
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 GA. Limited Official Use. Drafted December 21 by Arthur M. Stillman and approved by Bernard Zagorin.↩