129. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Possible Security Council Meeting in Panama

The possibility of a Panamanian attempt to arrange a Security Council meeting in Panama in March 1973 has become more real. We are moving to discourage and if necessary defeat any such move, but our success is not assured.

On September 15 Panama’s Permanent UN Representative Aquilino E. Boyd publicly stated his government was giving “serious consideration” to inviting the Security Council to meet in Panama in order to focus attention on the “problem of the Panama Canal”.

We heard in late July that Boyd might be pushing the idea of having a Security Council meeting in Panama, and at that time we asked our Latin American embassies to report on the subject and to discourage the idea if it was being discussed. Now, in view of the clearer indications of Panamanian intent we are moving more actively to discourage the move, and have suggested that Secretary Rogers raise this matter with Douglas-Home and Schumann in New York. We anticipate they will join us in opposing a Panama Security Council meeting. You will recall that Sir Alec wrote Secretary Rogers in February emphatically opposing future Security Council meetings away from headquarters. Schumann expressed general agreement in correspondence with the British.

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We are asking our UN Mission to consult and to seek support also from other Security Council members (in addition to the UK and French) to resist any Panamanian invitation. The Mission is to point out that meetings away from New York incur unnecessary expense and entail operational and communication difficulties, and that the Council’s work on current problems would not be facilitated by a meeting in Panama. There are no current Latin American items, although there are inactive items technically on the agenda which could be reactivated at a meeting in Panama.

We would need seven negative votes or abstentions to defeat a Panamanian proposal. As Panama is likely to pursue its proposal in the “colonial” context, we probably cannot expect support in any vote from the Soviets, the eastern Europeans, the People’s Republic of China, India or the three Africans—nor, of course, from Panama. We could probably count on the support of the Belgians, Italians and hopefully the Japanese, in addition to the UK and France. Argentina, which may have the swing vote, would find it difficult not to go along with Panama.

Our situation will be still less favorable if the matter is precipitated in the Council in 1973 where the membership will undergo some changes: Peru will replace Argentina, Austria replace Italy and Indonesia replace Japan. What we must hope is that the firm opposition of three of the permanent members, supported by two or more other members of influence, will be sufficient to prevent the idea of the Security Council meeting in Panama from coming to a vote.

RW Mueller 2
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential. Drafted September 25 by Hartley and Armitage and cleared by Bell, Monsma, and Herz.
  2. Mueller signed for Eliot above Eliot’s typed signature.