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

172334. Subject: US Position on 1971 Budget.

SYG’s October 5 address to Fifth Committee on 1971 budget must be commended for courage and forthrightness.2 Seems apparent from his remarks that earlier approaches of U.S. and other major contributors made significant impression on SYG. We support in full his recommendations for reductions in budget.
Stringent U.S. budgetary policies require that we seek maximum possible reductions. Moreover growing Congressional disenchantment with international organizations a matter of record. $2.5 million excess currency requirement FY 1970 and 1971 appropriations may presage strong Congressional reaction to sharp increase in UN assessment associated with budget level now forecast. Although reduction in appropriation for ILO resulted from other than budgetary considerations, precedent of these Congressional actions should not be overlooked.
U.S. cannot accept $200 million budget. We applaud and support SYG’s proposals for $7 million reduction in budget by acceptance ACABQ reductions, cutting back on new construction and freezing staff at authorized 1970 level. Result of such reductions would bring budget down to about $193 million according SYG’s calculations. However we believe there are other areas of budget where further cuts can be effected. Immediate goal is to bring budget down to $188–$190 million without impairing essential UN programs.
As heretofore, U.S. will support ACABQ recommendations for reductions in initial and revised budget estimates. Although we wish avoid undercutting of ACABQ recommendations, we would seize upon ACABQ observations or comments which may provide basis for further budget reductions.
Prime target for cut, in addition reductions proposed by SYG and ACABQ, is proposed 8% pay raise which SYG supports. As indicated CA–52593 we do not support 8% figure particularly in view of anomalies apparent in ICSAB study. If raise held to 5% a further $3.3 [Page 298]million could be cut from budget. If cut to 5% fails, we will send further instructions.
Second goal is to maximize absorption within existing appropriations of costs resulting from inflation and/or new and expanded programs plus reduction of conferences and documentation expenditures for a further saving of $1.5 million.
Progress made in reducing documentation should be commended but redoubling of effort in this direction imperative. Convinced that progress in reducing documentation can be met only on basis Draconian measures, US Del should propose reduction of $1.0 million in appropriations for this purpose. One particularly soft spot is $700,000 item for documentation for 1972 Stockholm Conference on Human Environment. A further proportionate reduction should be absorbed in area of conference services. Recommended increase of $522,000 for temporary assistance for augmented Geneva meetings schedule and 26th GA appears excessive and should be questioned. Schedule of conferences and meetings should be stretched out so bodies meet less frequently, not only for purpose of economy, but, even more importantly, to enable both secretariat and member states to prepare adequately for each session. Greater recourse should be made to approval of measures by mail poll or consultation with resident delegations as means of reducing agendas and duration and frequency of meetings. A more pointed effort is needed on part of substantive committees to restrict number of conferences held away from headquarters. U.S. should oppose reconstituting Committee on Conferences unless it can be given adequate authority to be effective and its terms of reference so written as to ensure that its basic purpose is to reduce the number, frequency, duration and costs of conferences.
The prospect of UN budget bordering on $200 million dramatically underscores need for strictest economies and for review and reorganization of budgetary and programming procedures. Proposals for budget reform which SYG will present to GA should receive careful attention. In addition possibility should be explored of reconstituting Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to Examine Finances of UN and Specialized Agencies (Committee of 14) and charging it with responsibility for recommending ways in which greater order can be introduced in terms of establishment of priorities, program budgeting, and coordination with other UN agencies and programs, as well as establishment of more comprehensive means of inspection and evaluation of UN system. (This proposal to be discussed in greater detail under Agenda Item 80.)
US Del should strongly emphasize importance of manpower survey and of adherence to AMS recommendations as integral part of effort to restore confidence in UN. Believing that SYG and staff must give fullest cooperation to ACABQ in its inquiries re budgetary implications [Page 299]of surveys, we welcome Oct. 8 announcement of USYG Stark that SYG will provide Committee with full report on personnel policy recommended by AMS manpower survey.
US Del may support ACABQ recommended draft resolution on unforeseen and extraordinary expenditures, which would continue same procedure for such expenditures as follows in past.
As heretofore, US Del should consult with members Big Four and other like-minded delegations to extent possible to seek concerted action for budgetary restraint.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10. Confidential. Drafted by Patrick T. O’Connor; cleared by Allen, Paul W. Jones, Frechtling, John W. McDonald, Fox, and Richard W. Murray; and approved by Allen. Repeated to Vienna and the Mission in Geneva.
  2. Printed in Official Records of the General Assembly, Twenty-fifth Session, Annexes, agenda item 73, document A/C.5/1309.
  3. Dated October 7. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10)