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

4312. Subj: New GA Agenda Item Re Convening SC Meetings in Africa.

[Page 228]
Thirty-six African dels circulated letter and explanatory memorandum requesting urgent conclusion of “cooperation between UN and OAU, convening of meeting of SC in an African capital” (copy misfaxed UNP). General Committee of GA scheduled take up item Nov 18 at 10 AM.
In event UK, France, Belgium and other friendlies on SC decide to go along with inscription, we would propose to do likewise. After the vote we propose, unless Dept sees objection, to make following brief points:
Rule 5 of rules of procedure envisages that a proposal may be made, and the SC decide, to meet at another place than UNHQ. We are on record, in principle, in favoring occasional meetings of UN bodies outside of New York.
This being said, US does not favor meetings of SC in areas of tension. SC is charged, under Charter, with maintenance of international peace and security, and its deliberations must take place in as calm an atmosphere as possible. To hold meetings of SC in capitals of countries which have active items before the Council, would, in our view, not contribute to a severe [serene?]atmosphere.
Obviously in considering this new item full account must be taken of its financial implications. It is no secret that UN is literally on verge of bankruptcy and at a time when the organization is having difficulties paying salaries of members of Secretariat, new expenditure must be weighed carefully.
Lastly, there are some operational problems. SC is supposed to be able to meet at any hour of day or night should circumstances require it. Moreover, some delegations might experience difficulties communicating rapidly and securely with their capitals depending on where it was decided to hold the meeting.
Understand British and Belgian dels have similar reservations. Also understand French may not oppose inscription of item, but when item discussed may raise similar objection re financial situation.
Strulak (Poland) informed MISOFF that SC Pres Kulaga (Poland) during conversation on other matters (septel)2 with Bush had forgotten mention that three AF’s on SC had approached him re getting consensus from SC members on SC meeting in Africa Jan or Feb 1972. According Strulak, AF SC members wanted SC meeting to be held in Dakar and/or Lusaka during that period. Topic for discussion would be 1) apartheid, 2) Southern Rhodesia, and 3) Portuguese Territories. Namibia would be discussed subject to action taken in NY. AF’s took line that Bush had earlier proposed meetings outside of NY. AF’s also [Page 229]said Senegalese and Zambians were willing to defray some of costs such as paying for accommodations and transport. According Strulak, they also willing interrupt meetings on Southern Africa if other urgent business so requires.
AF’s apparently got preliminary financial estimate from Secretariat of $500,000 if trip took place. They have asked for alternative estimates which would trim off some of fat. When asked whether démarche was in conjunction with GA item, AF’s did not make correlation.
Strulak said that both Sovs and British were cautious in reply to meetings in Africa. MISOFF saw difficulties, particularly from financial side, but promised seek guidance. Would appreciate instructions ASAP Nov 18.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential. Repeated to Addis Ababa.
  2. Telegram 4316 from USUN, November 17. (Ibid., POL PORT—SENEG)