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

317. Subj: Periodic SC Meetings.

Amb Jakobson (Finland) called on Amb Yost March 2 to present Finnish initiative for strengthening UN peacekeeping machinery by having SC hold periodic meetings under Article 28 of UN Charter.2 Jakobson left Yost a paper explaining in detail what his govt has in mind (copy pouched UNP—Mrs. Hartley)3 and said that he hoped idea could be adopted in conjunction with twenty-fifth anniversary of UN. Crux of Finnish idea is that meetings should be regular and periodic (twice a year), at FonMin level (unless individual SC members should decide designate someone else), closed in nature with no resolutions up for consideration, and possibly with SYG leading off meetings by giving report on major world problems. In this way SC members could meet without fanfare discreetly to exchange views on major issues without intention to adopt any specific resolution. Even if highly controversial issues such as ME, Vietnam or Biafra are included in discussion, SC members could exchange views without fear of acrimonious public debate which often deters holding SC meeting under present circumstances. This would be especially valuable to non-permanent members of SC and to improving their relations with and understanding of positions of perm members, and serve to strengthen position of SYG as well as SC.
Jakobson said he would be consulting all SC members during next ten days. He has already seen SYG who had very favorable reaction and Malik (USSR) who, according to Jakobson, had no specific reaction. (Jakobson noted that this idea was incorporated in res on strengthening international peace and security adopted at USSR initiative by 24th UNGA. He said his govt wishes they had thought of it first but that they worked with USSR to keep it in res as finally adopted.)
Amb Yost said we would study very interesting Finnish proposal, consult Dept and give Jakobson reply.
Comment: While this procedure if adopted could hardly be expected to solve intractable international security problems, it seems to me desirable, and potentially significant step toward reviving and reenforcing UN. I recommend we encourage Finns to proceed.

Recent trend has been to keep most difficult and dangerous problems out of SC, unless and until they explode in our faces, because public debate is often counterproductive and agreement among major powers on concrete action rarely attainable.SC therefore tends to deal only with secondary problems and in eyes of world opinion seems increasingly irrelevant.

Periodic closed meetings attended by FonMin’s and commencing with broad-brush report by SYG would provide at least limited opportunity for discussion major security problems in UN framework, which might pave the way for subsequent concrete action in some cases. Fact meetings were closed would reduce incentive for polemics and fact they were at regular intervals would reduce exaggerated expectations.

First such meeting might take place during FonMin’s visits to NY for GA opening and 25th anniversary would constitute logical occasion for commencing new procedure.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential. Repeated to Helsinki, London, Moscow, Paris, and Brussels for USNATO.
  2. Article 28 of the UN Charter authorized periodic meetings of the Security Council in which member states could be represented by either a member of their governments or by some other specially designated representative.
  3. Not found.