150. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

165086. Subject: U.S. Position on UN Budgets for 1970 and 1971. Ref: (A)USUN 1385,2 (B) USUN 2748,3 (C) USUN 2753,4 (D) London 6906.5

In light of U.S. budgetary objectives, and particularly, growing Congressional discontent with ever increasing U.S. assessments, upward spiral of international organizations’ budgets including that of UN is problem which, if not alleviated or contained, threatens to produce situation which could seriously affect our relations with these organizations. Provision in the appropriations bill passed by House requiring $2.5 million of U.S. contribution to be made in excess currencies is signal not to be ignored. In this situation, despite progress made to date, we must continue our efforts to hold down budget allocations and effect economies wherever feasible. To do so is not only important from viewpoint of our future relations with organizations but also makes good sense in terms of strengthening effectiveness and efficiency of organizations themselves.
Taking into account SYG initial estimates amounting to $164.1 million, ACABQ recommended reductions of $1.3 million and probable add-ons of $2.2 million. We foresee 1970 expenditure budget of $165.0 million for 1970, an increase of about $10 million or 6.5 percent over last year’s expenditure budget. Owing to decrease in offsetting income and adjustments including, particularly, a greatly reduced amount available in 1968 surplus account as opposed to amount available last year in 1967 surplus account, amount assessed against members in 1970 will increase by $13.3 million or 9.3 percent over comparable 1969 figure (1969 assessment—$143.2 million; 1970 projected assessment—$156.5 million).
Although we are well aware that projected increase in expenditure budget of 6.5 percent is low as compared with previous years [Page 283] (1969 increase over 1968 was 10.3 percent), increase in amount we must request from Congress estimated at $4.2 million or 10.2 percent over last year will pose very real problem for U.S. at a period when Executive Branch is making every effort economize and in view of sentiment of Congress against rapid increase in costs represented by our contributions to international organizations.
Initial estimates for 1970, SYG foreword to these estimates and line of thinking expressed by Turner regarding 1971 planning levels (Ref B) all appear reflect atmosphere of improved budgetary restraint, achievement of which was main purpose of Four Power approach. Although SYG estimates even as reduced by ACABQ recommendations exceed target figure of $161 million set by Four Powers, and further add-ons must be anticipated, approach has apparently been effective in relation to Secretariat and may even have limited restraining influence on the program formulating bodies. Moreover $161 million target figure was based on somewhat inadequate information.
We agree that we are not tied to other three governments for or against any particular budget level for 1970 (Ref C). However we are persuaded that fundamental element in whatever success approach has enjoyed to date has been image of Big Four solidarity, and that it desirable continue convey strong sense of concern of four major contributors re need for economical budgetary approach. In furthering measures proposed (Ref A) believe you should also endeavor bring Western Group and other like-minded delegations into picture.
We agree that SYG has made what appears to be brave effort to curtail expansive tendencies of commissions and subordinate bodies and merits commendation by U.S. delegation for this endeavor. However, in light overall need for greatest possible savings and in interest of maintaining atmosphere of economy and good management, not just as one or two year phenomenon, but as continuing feature of UN growth and development, we must persevere in our efforts to seek cost reductions wherever they may be found and to avoid supporting excessive increases.
As we pointed out in our last year’s communication on 1969 budget (State 261339),6 we are fully cognizant of problem posed by efforts to make reductions below those recommended by ACABQ. On one hand, going beyond ACABQ recommended may tend to emphasize non-aligned nature of ACABQ as group of experts and thus strengthen general acceptance of its recommendations. On other hand if developed countries start criticizing or rejecting ACABQ’s recommendations, it might not be long before LDCs do same. Therefore U.S. will support ACABQ’s recommendations for 1970 as basic point of [Page 284] position while taking advantage of realistic opportunities for further reductions consistent with ACABQ viewpoints.
We remain convinced that savings are to be found in area of conferences and documentation and we should make every effort seek adoption of recommendations of Committee of Seven as best way to achieve this end.
Certainly in discussions with other three caution must be exercised to avoid compromising our ultimate freedom of decision. In final analysis U.S. position may be influenced by number of factors not yet known or evaluated including amount and nature of addons, 1971 planning estimate, Assembly action on report of Contributions Committee, negotiations with respect to Headquarters expansion and possibly other issues. Therefore you may adhere closely to position contained in paragraph 3 of (Ref C) except that you should avoid any indication of how we might vote for budget above $161 million level.
Subject to outcome of initial talk with UK, you are authorized use above views as basis for Big Four discussions.
Regarding 1971 planning estimates you should discuss with other three measures which might be taken to insure these be kept within acceptable limits, indicating we wish defer decision about possible approach to SYG until we have clearer indications his thinking this regard and are able assess likely Fifth Committee action on 1970 estimates.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, UN 10. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Edward W. Lawrence; cleared by Ralph S. Roberts, Paul W. Jones, Fox (BOB), and John W. McDonald; and approved by Ward P. Allen. Repeated to London, Vienna for IAEA, and the Mission in Geneva.
  2. Dated May 8. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated August 22. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 2753, August 22, asked for U.S. budgetary objectives before the Four-Power representatives met to discuss the next UN budget. (Ibid., UN 10–1)
  5. Dated August 29. (Ibid., UN 10)
  6. Dated October 24, 1968. (Ibid.)