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

180523. Subject: Possible Security Council Meeting in Panama. Ref: A.USUN 3544, B. USUN 3587, C. USUN 3620.2

Dept appreciates thorough analysis and recommendation in USUN 3620. While it appears that Boyd has made considerable progress in eliciting acquiescence of number, perhaps a majority, of SC members to SC meeting in Panama, we doubt that he has the firm support of all of them and are determined to counter this initiative and prevent abuse of the SC to bring pressure on US. Schumann’s apparent expression of support for this idea was particularly unhelpful and is subject of separate message. In any case we doubt Panama has firm support of eleven SC members as Boyd claims.
Time has clearly come when our views in opposition to meeting in Panama should be made forcefully known to all other Perm Reps and known in still more emphatic terms to Panama’s representative.
We believe Boyd may have given us useful ammunition in his bare-faced admission that purpose of holding SC meeting in Panama would be to put pressure (“favorably mould”) public opinion on bilateral issue now under negotiation between US and Panama. His difficulty in replying to Amb. Bush’s queries regarding agenda for projected meeting also provides additional grounds for inducing second thoughts among SC members concerning wisdom and appropriateness of such meeting.
You should make clear to PermReps of both current SC members and those who will take seats in 1973 that we are emphatically opposed to Panamanian proposal which we consider inappropriate, improper and unsupportable. We leave it to you to tailor individual approaches as you consider best, but you should center your fire on point that US and Panama are engaged in continuing negotiations on question of Canal Zone and that it is inadmissible that SC meetings should be moved to particular locality for express purpose of generating pressure on specific issue, especially one under negotiation. Every SC member should be made aware that precedent of locating SC meeting to influence bilateral negotiations or bilateral issues could plague [Page 250]that member, too, in the future. We believe this last point should give pause even to USSR and India.
As for African members, it might be pointed out to them that there is a vast difference between the Addis Ababa meeting, which was held in response to initiative by a regional organization, and proposed meeting in Panama which is the initiative of an individual country (even if others in the region feel constrained to support it). As you have suggested, would also be useful that Addis Ababa meeting constitutes no valid precedent might also be explained to others where appropriate.
As you have suggested, would also be useful to make following additional points:
SC is not currently seized with matters of particular concern to Latin American countries, hence there are no grounds for agenda appropriate to meeting in Panama. If old agenda items are brought up, your point that they suggest “cold war” debate on inactive issues as far as SC concerned should be telling.
OAS is active regional organization which first addresses issues of particular importance to LA’s, and OAS has not expressed need or desire for SC to treat Latin American issues at this time.
SC agreement to Panama meeting would derogate from its prestige and stature by thus lending itself to exploitation for advantage of one member and encouraging other countries to do the same. It would be particularly reprehensible if Panama were to use its Presidency of the Council in March 1973 to get SC to meet in its capital in order to further interests of SC President by exerting pressure on another SC member.
Additional strain on shaky UN finances is unwarranted by any commensurate benefit and unjustified at time when efforts are being directed to improving UN financial situation.
As for Boyd himself, you can now put US opposition to his proposal in stronger terms. You should leave him in no doubt that we consider his initiative an unjustifiable perversion of SC not grounded in its Charter purposes and that we regard it as inadmissible for Panama to attempt to manipulate SC procedures as propaganda exercise aimed at US public. You should repeat to him that in our view his initiative would backfire as it would be transparent to US people and be resented as pressure tactic. It appears that you found vulnerable chink when you pressed him on agenda, and additional emphasis on this point would be useful, also to let him know that we believe we have cogent argument with other SC members.
When we have reactions of PermReps to our approach, we will consider desirability of follow-up approaches in capitals.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Armitage and Herz, cleared by Bell, and approved by Herz. Repeated to London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Vienna, Canberra, Moscow, New Delhi, Khartoum, Mogadiscio, Conakry, Panama City, Buenos Aires, Lima, Nairobi, Tokyo, and Djakarta.
  2. See Document 130 and footnotes 2 and 4 thereto.