124. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • Security Council Meeting in Africa

By and large we did reasonably well in achieving a relatively balanced outcome at the eight-day Security Council meeting in Addis Ababa. In the spotlight of African popular attention, stimulated by the intercessions of numerous liberation movement leaders and egged on by the Soviet and Chinese representatives, the more radical African representatives dominated the early stages of the meeting and pressed hard for extreme resolutions. However, this movement was checked in large part as the session wore on.

The Western powers were able to agree on well-coordinated opposition to extreme formulations and by the last days of the session the radical Africans lost control of the operations. Substantial modifications were made in the resolutions and we were able to support three of them: two on Namibia and one on apartheid. In accordance with our agreement with the British, we abstained on the Rhodesian resolution (vetoed by the UK) for two main reasons: (1) it prejudged the Pearce Commission’s findings and (2) called for an immediate constitutional conference. We also abstained on the Portuguese territories resolution because it remained too one-sided even after excision of portions implying recognition of the liberation movements as representatives of the peoples concerned.

Exchanges with some African delegations were on occasion pointed and almost sharp, but we believe we emerged with our overall African relations in a reasonable state of repair. The Africans expected [Page 239]our abstention on the Rhodesian resolution. Although they had hoped we would go along with the modified resolution on the Portuguese territories, the Africans were not unduly upset by our abstention. The Portuguese expressed appreciation for our abstention. We stayed in close touch with the British on the Rhodesian resolution, and the UK has expressed appreciation for our support.

All in all, staging the Security Council meeting in Africa probably served as a safety valve and demonstrated to the Africans that their concerns receive careful consideration in the Council. However, working against a deadline in the atmosphere where regional concerns are the focus of attention clearly generates additional pressures on us and like-minded friends. We will want to consider carefully before we agree to further meetings in other regions. In this connection, it is noteworthy that Panama has intimated its interest in having a Council meeting there on the U.S.-Panama dispute over the Canal Zone.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. Confidential. An attached memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon, dated February 15, summarized Secretary Rogers’ report and added: “It is also worth mentioning that there was rather widespread American press criticism of the cost of holding the meeting in Addis at a time when the UN is nearly bankrupt.” The memorandum is stamped “The President has seen” and bears a marginal note reading “I agree—Don’t press for any more.” On February 22 Marshall Wright of the NSC Staff sent a memo to Haig that read: “I think the President’s feeling on this subject should be conveyed to State as guidance.” On February 24 Haig sent a memorandum to the Acting Secretary of State that informed him that the President had seen Secretary Rogers’ report on the Security Council meeting in Africa and had taken note of Rogers’ concerns and of public criticism of the cost of the meeting. “He therefore instructs that we attempt to avoid further such meetings.” (Ibid.)