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

73021. Subject: U.S. Assessment Rate in UN. Ref: USUN 887.2

We agree that present circumstances not propitious for launching campaign to reduce U.S. assessment rate in UN to 25 percent. Nor do we intend at this time to publicize ultimate desirability of reducing U.S. assessment rate in specialized agencies to 25 percent and below. Nevertheless we may face need to comment on recommendation of Lodge Commission that, while affirming its intention to maintain and increase its total contribution to the UN, the U.S. seek over a period of years to reduce its share of the assessed UN budget to 25 percent. Commission has linked U.S. reduction to redistribution of responsibilities as new UN members with sizable assessment rates (e.g., Federal Republic of Germany) come in.
If queried about Commission’s recommendation you may respond: We understand the Commission to be talking about a future goal. While we want to study the particulars and have no present plan to obtain a UN assessment reduction to a specific level, the US will of course expect a significant reduction in its assessment rate as new members are admitted. Mission can explain that this is exactly what U.S. is [Page 300]doing in ICAO in effort to get fair U.S. share of reductions in assessment rates resulting from Soviet adherence. If ICAO discussions become known in New York, Mission can further note that reduction U.S. is presently seeking in ICAO is to vicinity of 26.5 percent.3
While we recognize difficulties, we have concluded that our long range goal should be to bring U.S. assessment rate closer to what is appropriate to organizations based on sovereign equality where more weight should be given to considerations other than capacity to pay in determining assessments. Situation of obligatory assessment differs from that involving voluntary contributions (to UNDP for example) where capacity of donors is key consideration in judging equitable shares. Without taking explicit stand now, request you carefully refrain from endorsing principle of capacity-to-pay as overriding element in establishing assessment rates. We should in future stress that other criteria need to be taken more into account. These criteria could be expected to include special responsibilities and privileges of permanent members of Security Council and special advantages pertaining to host governments, as well as basic concept that in organization of ostensible equals, membership dues should proceed in first instance from this very equality.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Confidential. Drafted by Hennes and Pelcovits, cleared by Allen and Robert L. Yoder, and approved by Assistant Secretary De Palma.
  2. Dated April 7. (Ibid., AV 3 ICAO)
  3. The United States had taken the position that all ICAO member states should share the costs proportionally as new members were admitted. When the ICAO Assembly held its 18th regular triennial session in Vienna (June 15–July 7, 1971), it agreed to reduce the U.S. assessment to 28.75 percent rather than 26.85 percent. ( U.S. Participation in the UN, 1972, p. 158)