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

5336. Subj: SC Meeting in Africa. Ref: A.USUN 42;2 type B.USUN 63;3 C. USUN 83;4 D.USUN 84; E. USUN 85.5

At January 11 Council meeting Mission may express agreement in principle to SC meeting in Africa, subject to subcommittee agreement on arrangements, finances, location, agenda, etc. We concur with suggestion para 10, Ref B, that Council should operate by consensus in planning meeting. Mission should maintain position that host country and/or OAU defray substantial portion of meeting costs, and that all UN members (including for example Portugal and South Africa) who desire to do so be able to attend with host country agreement in advance. Regular SC rules should apply. We firmly believe meeting should not exceed five working days at outside (Council should not be away from headquarters and from Secretariat services for longer than that during current Middle East and South Asian tension). We also agree to Mission making proposal para 14 Ref C re General Debate on African questions.
Paragraphs which follow give Dept’s preliminary views on other aspects of meeting in Africa. We would appreciate receiving as soon as practicable Mission comment and recommendations, particularly with regard to desirable agenda and overall US stance.
On balance since it likely be difficult to delay meeting for more than few months, we favor it being held at reasonably early date, e.g., end of January or early February, (particularly before Rhodesian situation again comes to boiling point and before Soviet SC Presidency in March) provided of course there is agreement on modalities. While it probably would gain us little to indicate that we favor discussion of certain African issues and would prefer to avoid discussion of others, perhaps we can exert some influence over agenda by concentrating on question of duration of meeting and insisting it be kept to five working days or less. We also would like to have Africans’ reaction to proposal that meeting be devoted primarily to hearing views of UN member countries from region and other interested members on the situation in Africa, as suggested para 14 Ref C.
While we can understand that Farah and Africans see little point in meeting given over to enunciation of platitudes and pious hopes, by same token we can see no advantage in holding series of acrimonious debates which would simply highlight disagreements. We would prefer meeting that would enhance image of UN both in eyes of Africans and of US public and Congress. We would hope there could be agreement that energies should be focussed on undertaking serious and useful outcome. Mission should make this clear to Farah in particular.
Action Requested: Appreciate reftels, particularly full report contained Ref C. Assuming agreement on meeting per para 1, we would appreciate specific recommendations on US posture and role, identification of which initiatives (if any) we should push on our own, advice on whether to counter with our own proposals or negotiate on their drafts if presented with obviously unacceptable resolutions, etc. We would also wish to have more information as to how African Council members aside from Farah view meeting, and would like to know whether they see meeting as opportunity to force confrontations through resolutions which they know in advance will be unacceptable to Western members. If Africans indeed do plan to force issues, we would like to know soonest and have Mission recommendations as to best countering tactics.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by David C. Halsted and H. J. Feldman; cleared by Morris Rothenberg, Peter C. Walker, Donald S. Spigler, and David D. Newsom; and approved by Assistant Secretary DePalma. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Lusaka, Conakry, Dakar, Kinshasa, London, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 42 from USUN, January 6, described meetings with the Belgian, Argentine, and Japanese Delegations about Ambassador Farah’s proposal for a Security Council meeting in Africa. Belgian Deputy Permanent Representative Michel Van Ussel said that Farah proposed to have the Security Council meet January 23 in Addis Ababa to discuss the Rhodesian situation, sanctions against Rhodesia, Namibia, the arms embargo against South Africa, apartheid, and the situation in the Portuguese territories. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 63 from USUN, January 8, Bush reported that Farah had contacted 12 Security Council members, and only the United Kingdom had objected to a meeting in Africa. Farah intended to call a Security Council meeting on January 11, and hoped that the Council would agree in principle to the meeting and would form a subcommittee to study the details. He was less specific than before about a venue and the agenda. (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 83 from USUN, January 11, Bush reported on a January 10 meeting of WEO and LA members of the Security Council. Participants agreed to a British proposal that the meeting take place “as early as practicable in 1972” rather than in the “early part of 1972.” Agreement in principle about the meeting would depend on whether the subcommittee could reach an agreement on the agenda, location, timing, and financial and practical arrangements. (Ibid.)
  5. Telegram 84 from USUN, January 11, outlined Farah’s draft statement regarding the Security Council meeting in Africa. Telegram 85 from USUN, January 11, transmitted the text of Farah’s draft consensus statement. (Both ibid.)