106. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to All Posts 1

148408. Subject: Key Issues at 27th United Nations General Assembly.

General Assessment
27th UNGA opening September 19 not likely to have issues as dramatic as Chirep and Indo-Pak fighting last year. Our main focus will be on our efforts to obtain agreement for reduction in our rate of assessment from 31.52 per cent to 25 per cent. We will also be seeking (1) postponement of debate on Korean question and (2) strengthening of UN machinery for economic development, population and environmental questions. Disarmament issues, particularly World Disarmament Conference (WDC), and Seabeds Conference (subject of septel [Page 209]next month) will probably consume considerable time. Middle East situation likely to be raised but in what form and substance not yet clear.
Our request for reduced assessment may lead some to believe US downgrading UN. This is not USG’s policy. Popular image of UN in US has been tarnished, partly as result its inability to handle important issues of peace and security and partly because of its tendency to eschew balanced effort to solve difficult problems in favor of rhetorical endorsement of positions popular with voting majorities. However, US strongly desires to see UN strengthened and its debates, documents and decisions made responsive to the need for effective international cooperation on problems of broad concern. In this connection, posts should discreetly convey our strong hope that one-sided polemics will be avoided and the Assembly’s efforts concentrated instead on restoring confidence of the world at large, including the US, that the UN can not only debate the issues but get things done.
Following paragraphs summarize issues of major interest to US and the outcome US hopes to attain. You should draw on these points in discussions with host govt officials and enlist their support, as well as determine their positions and likely initiatives. Please cable reports to Dept with USUN as info addressee. Background info on 26th GA session contained in airgram A–677,2 while voting record of host govt contained in IO document transmitted separately.3

25 Per Cent Assessment

1. We will mount major effort at 27th GA to reduce US rate of assessment in UN from 31.52 per cent to 25 per cent, both by applying assessments of new members and by incremental additions within 1974–76 scale of assessments. We anticipate heavy resistance from other members, but in view high level of USG and public interest we must make this matter of highest priority in forthcoming GA. Posts should await separate instruction before approaching govts on this question.



1. Instructions re USG support for postponement sent State 137863.4 If Korean item is not postponed, divisive and polemical debate could occur over UN (and US) role in Korea and between two Koreas which would reduce prospects of further progress in improvement of relations between South and North Korea. Best contribution UNGA can make is to avoid such debate and let both sides work out own problems together.


World Disarmament Conference

1. USG continues view WDC with skepticism. WDC would be unwieldy, propagandistic forum which could prejudice further serious bilateral efforts such as continuing SALT talks. It would certainly impair work of Committee on Disarmament (CCD) which has successfully negotiated important multilateral arms control and disarmament measures. CCDs’ regional representation affords a forum for countries of all regions to have their views set forth and considered. Furthermore, WDC is wholly unnecessary since UNGA, which annually discusses disarmament matters, is virtually universal forum now and likely soon to include all nations wanting to join. US will oppose holding or setting a date for WDC as well as establishment of any preparatory machinery to arrange for conference. We could accept a resolution stating view that a WDC could play role in disarmament process at an appropriate unspecified time.


Middle East

1. There have been indications that Egypt may wish to raise ME question again in UNGA but it is uncertain whether issue will arise and, if so, what form resolution might take. We do not know at this point what negotiations may be in play when GA meets but, in light past experience, we strongly believe debate would exacerbate tensions and differences in area and one-sided resolution which would likely emerge would harm any prospects of movement by parties themselves on whom success of any negotiations primarily depends.


Germany in UN

1. Question of FRG/GDR entry into UN is not on agenda but Sovs and other EEs could make effort to gain observer status for GDR or otherwise seek to enhance GDR standing in UN. We will join with UK, France, and FRG to oppose such moves in line with policy that UN entry for both Germanies should be preceded by satisfactory modus vivendi between FRG and GDR and by a quadripartite declaration or statement that Four Power rights and responsibilities will not be affected by UN entry. Premature consideration of FRG/GDR membership or GDR observer status would prejudice chances for success in inter-German negotiations which are important element in peace and security in Europe. GDR does not qualify for observer status as it is not a member of a UN specialized agency and is not generally recognized by UN members.


Southern Rhodesia

1. African and Communist nations may seek to have US condemned for importing strategic materials from SR under Byrd Amendment. We see no valid reason to single out USG as our imports from Rhodesia constitute no more than 2 or 3 per cent of total Rhodesian exports. Passage of resolution unwarrantedly condemning US would adversely [Page 211]affect support of UN by US public and Congress. Those interested in upholding sanctions would be much better advised to focus attention on violations by others who are taking over 95 per cent of Rhodesian exports. (If asked to name others, you should say that official UN trade statistics available to UN Sanctions Committee indicate generally who they are.)


Protection of Diplomats

1. US strongly supports draft articles of the International Law Commission on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Diplomatic Agents and Other Internationally Protected Persons. We believe the GA should request governments to submit observations on ILC draft articles looking towards a diplomatic conference to adopt them in 1974. Separate but related item is protection of diplomats in New York City. We do not wish stimulate discussion this item, but posts may note US cooperates fully with new committee on relations with host country and that we currently seeking additional legislation (which may be passed by time GA meets) to improve ability of Federal Government to deal with problem.


Human Rights in Armed Conflict

1. Item this year features report by group of “expert” consultants to SYG on napalm and other incendiary weapons and their possible use which was designed by sponsors to embarrass the US. USG opposes any moves by GA to control use of napalm and similar weapons on grounds such proposals should be taken up in disarmament forum such as CCD where it can be given more expert and less polemical attention. SYG will also report on expert conference held under ICRC auspices in May 1972 to develop additional protocols to 1949 Geneva Conventions. USG has been seeking inclusion in these protocols of more effective measures for implementation of Geneva Prisoner of War Convention. USG strongly supports these efforts and hopes GA will again endorse them without initiating competing drafting efforts.


Financial and Administrative Problems

US fully supports SYG’s program of austerity measures and his efforts to match income and expenditures. We support SYG’s policy of keeping CY 73 budget as close as possible to CY 72 levels as well as his view that new programs are not precluded, but must be accommodated within resources freed by completion of prior tasks or assignment of lower priority to continuing ones.
Soviets remain intransigent about efforts to find solution to larger problem of UN deficit. French contributions have removed France from annual list of defaulters (although France’s old Congo arrearages remain) but PRC may withhold at even higher current levels than did French.


UN Conference on the Human Environment

1. GA will consider SYG’s report on Stockholm Conference. US will work to endorse plan of action adopted by the conference and in particular approve conference’s draft resolution recommending establishment of:

A small environment unit within the UN to be headed by a director-general for the environment;
A 54-member governing council for UN environment programs;
An environment fund to be supported by voluntary contributions and administered by the executive director under advice of the Governing Council; and
An environmental coordinating board to insure cooperation and coordination among all UN agencies involved in environment programs. US will strongly resist any proposals for amendment to the conference report.


UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA)

1. Created in 1967 and sustained primarily by US voluntary contributions, UNFPA finances technical assistance projects in developing countries on all aspects of population problems. SYG’s report to 27th GA should clarify administrative status of UNFPA and strengthen its central coordinating role. USG supports moves to make UNFPA the central funding, coordinating, and programming mechanism in the UN family for technical assistance in this field, to bring it into closer relationship with UNDP and place it under direction of UNDP Government Council. We expect report of SYG requested at 26th UNGA will contribute to these objectives.


UN University

1. Feasibility study completed by UNESCO and supplemented by SYG panel of experts has failed to answer what we consider are essential questions relating to role, organization, operation and financing of proposed UNU. In addition, current proposals imply compulsory rather than voluntary financial contributions. USG cannot support proposals to establish such an institution for which no clear need is demonstrated and at a time when national universities need all the financial help possible.


Economic Commission for Western Asia

1. A Lebanese proposal to establish an economic commission for Western Asia will probably come before the General Assembly when it considers the report of ECOSOC. At the July ECOSOC, Lebanon introduced a resolution to establish another regional commission with its membership limited to Arab States (Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen (San’a), Yemen (Aden), Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates). By the terms of the resolution, Israel would not become a member unless admitted by ECOSOC upon the [Page 213]recommendation of the new commission. Israel has objected to this provision. ECOSOC decided to postpone a decision until its meeting in October. If the matter is brought to a vote, the United States will oppose the present text because it would exclude a UN member that is a part of the region. Such a policy of excluding UN members from UN bodies and activities would cause much controversy, and hinder UN work in many fields. Pending time when an economic commission for Western Asia can be established on a non-discriminatory basis, we believe Arab States should continue to rely on existing UN Economic and Social office in Beirut.


UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

1. We expect criticism of developed countries including US in connection GA consideration of report on UNCTAD III conference. UNCTAD Secretary General’s report on conference gives some support to complaints about lack of action on primary commodities and rescheduling debt of developing countries. US intends emphasize positive aspects of conference including action already taken on key resolutions including (1) implementing provision of resolution on international monetary situation by recent establishment by IMF Board of Governors of Committee of 20 including 9 developing countries to deal with international monetary reform; (2) preparations for multilateral trade negotiations in 1973 as called for in resolution on subject, within framework of GATT including coordination of activities of Secretary General of UNCTAD and Director General of GATT to assist developing countries and (3) action to assist least developed countries in line with UNCTAD resolution, including allocation of additional UNDP funds for their projects. Further action on about 50 UNCTAD resolutions will require carrying through programs in UN system and by sovereign governments, a process that will take years.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 GA. Confidential; Routine. Drafted by the IO/UNP staff; approved by Assistant Secretary De Palma, and cleared by Chase, Goott, Monsma, Walker, McNutt, McDonald, Armitage, and Hennes. Repeated to USUN, Paris for OECD, Geneva, and Brussels for USEC and USNATO.
  2. Document 102.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Not found.