126. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to All American Republic Posts 1

145743. Subject: Possible SC Meeting in Panama.

At SC meeting in Addis last January, Panamanian UN Representative Boyd expressed Panama’s interest in having SC meet in “capital of Panama,” and in general context of “colonialism” brought up US presence in Canal Zone. Last February British FonMin wrote the Secretary and French FonMin suggesting US, UK, and France join in opposing future SC meetings outside New York on grounds (1) such [Page 241]meetings tend increase tensions in area concerned, (2) nothing accomplished Addis that could not have been equally well accomplished New York, (3) additional expenditure involved was not warranted given UN’s financial straits, and (4)SC meetings outside New York apt present administrative and communications difficulties. In reply, Secretary said while we saw some merit in principle in such meetings, serious reservations are definitely in order when meeting would occur under unpromising conditions.2 French FonMin also expressed reservations with respect SC meetings outside New York. However, permanent SC members have no veto over procedural decisions of this character.
Recently USUN informed by UKUN of report Boyd now in Panama urging Panama invite SC meet there next year. British are considering low-key efforts through their LA missions to encourage LAs to view with great caution any initiative by Panama of this nature. UKUN thinks Panama might seek OAS support such as was given Addis meeting by OAU. Article 28(3) of UN Charter provides SC may meet at such places other than headquarters “as in its judgment will best facilitate its work.”
Dept sees no advantage in early SC meeting in Panama. There are no agenda items of particular LA interest currently being considered by SC. However, meeting in Panama could lead to discussion of US presence in Canal Zone, a matter which Panama brought before SC in 1964 and which remains on SC agenda, as do various Cuban complaints directed against US. (Beginning with the Iranian question in 1946, almost every item the Security Council has ever considered remains on its agenda; items are seldom removed.) Dept considers SC meetings outside New York in absence clearly demonstrated advantages not only unjustified under charter criterion for such meetings but also unjustified expense in view of UN’s financial crisis.
Dept will inform Embassy if UK decides proceed with efforts at persuasion it is considering making with LAs. If it does, Embassy should keep in touch with British counterpart re results such efforts. In meantime Embassy should report promptly anything it may hear with respect possible Panama initiative for SC meeting there, but should not of course raise subject. If asked how US would regard such proposal, Embassy should indicate that it will seek instructions but in general US believes desirability SC meetings outside New York must be judged on case by case basis to determine whether there are such clear advantages in holding meeting outside New York as to outweigh any possible danger of increasing, rather than decreasing, tensions in [Page 242]area, operational and communications difficulties involved, and additional expense incurred, particularly in view UN’s present financial problems. It difficult see how SC’s work on any of problems with which it currently occupied would be facilitated by meeting in Panama.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential; Routine; Exdis. Drafted by Hartley; cleared by Armitage, Hurwitch, Robert T. Burns, Karl D. Ackerman, Horwitz, George N. Monsma, and Fessenden; and approved by Assistant Secretary DePalma. Repeated to London and USUN.
  2. See Document 125.