167. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1
Summary: Serious and reasonably successful efforts already have been made by USUN and Dept during year to limit level of UN budget for 1972. All possible efforts to achieve this objective, consistent with US interests in political, economic and social activities of UN, will continue to be made, but it is unrealistic to expect that necessary two-thirds majority of UN member states will support further substantial reductions in budget level. End summary.
- USUN fully appreciates and shares Dept’s concern at prospective UN budget level for 1972. However, in assessing possibilities of reducing presently foreseen level, we must take into account, (a) developments which have already taken place this year, (b) our own objectives in political, economic and social areas, and (c) views of other UN members.
- As Dept aware, USUN has been actively engaged throughout year in attempting make certain budget level for 1972 be held to lowest possible figure consistent with US interests. Amb Bush discussed this on number of occasions with SYG, latest instance being July 27, 1971, and stressed importance of holding budget level to minimum (reftel G). Further, USUN arranged for Turner (UN Controller) to visit Dept last Feb to hold detailed discussions with Ass’t Sec DePalma and staff re 1972 budget. USUN has also held discussions in NY with Missions USSR, UK and France to persuade them to make approaches to SYG re need for maximum restraint in 1972 budget estimates. (These Missions each made one approach to SYG but failed follow up with second approach despite USUN’s efforts to persuade them to do so.)
- When viewed in total context, efforts of USUN and Dept have borne considerable fruit, as evidenced by record. When Turner visited Dept in Feb, he presented preliminary initial estimates representing what he considered to be austerity budget. Those initial estimates amounted to $211.5 million—an increase of about 10.3 per cent over 1971 appropriation level of $192.1 million. As result discussions in Wash and subsequent pressure from USUN and Missions USSR, UK and France in NY, Turner reduced initial estimate to level of $207.7 million, representing an 8.1 per cent increase over 1971 appropriation level, and this is figure which SYG has formally presented to GA. SYG pointed out in foreword to initial estimates that, of total increase of 8.1 per cent, only 1.3 per cent represented an expansion of existing resources and the balance of increase represented increased cost of maintaining 1971 establishment, rate and wage increases, and other unavoidable increases relating primarily to construction program.
- In its report on 1972 initial estimates, ACABQ (of which USUN officer a member) recommended they be reduced by $2.4 million to level of $205.3 million which represents increase of 6.9 per cent above 1971 appropriation level.
- Above record shld demonstrate that whatever might have been considered “water” in SYG initial estimates has been squeezed out and that these initial estimates retain almost no capacity to absorb additional expenditures. Action taken by SYG was largely in response to US pressure.
- SYG, when presenting his initial estimates for 1972 to ACABQ, informed Comite that he foresaw potential revised estimates which wld call for an addition to 1972 budget of about $7.3 million (i.e., an additional increase in budget level of about 3.8 per cent). These revised estimates wld relate to items which cld not be costed in initial estimates such as decisions taken in late spring re UNIDO programs, 1971 decisions of ECOSOC (spring and summer sessions) and its subsidiary bodies, effect of revaluation of Austrian and Swiss currencies, etc. A number of items in this total have since been adjusted—some upward such as UNIDO, some downward, such as losses on exchange resulting from revaluation of Swiss and Austrian currencies, and there have been some additions, deletions, and changes due to recent ECOSOC decisions— however, total remains approximately same. In addition, ECOSOC decided to add $1.8 million for advisory services to Part VI of budget. Further, can expect SYG to submit revised estimates (a) in amount of about $1.5 million to cover new posts in Secretariat, many of which are recommended by Administrative Management Service (AMS), and (b) roughly $0.5 million to meet increased costs in 1972 for electronic data processing as reported reftel F. An additional $1 million likely to be required as result dollar float beyond $3 million earlier estimated by SYG for revaluation of Swiss and Austrian currencies.
- Result in minimum 1972 budget estimates which can be forecast at present likely to total around $218 million, with other add-ons possible. Most of add-ons to $205.3 million revised base (para 4 above) result of either (a) increased costs to UN which cld not be anticipated and over which SYG has minimal control, or (b) actions by various UN governmental bodies over which almost no control possible by SYG. Inability of SYG to exercise greater control is caused by and reflection of present program and budget “system” in UN.
- Shld be recognized that none of proposed revised estimates has yet been scrutinized by ACABQ, which is likely to recommend at least some reductions in them to 5th Comite.
We have carefully considered views set forth in reftel A re potential savings in light of foregoing, and our comments are fol:
[Omitted here are USUN’s comments on specific budget reductions.]
- As in past, US Del will press hard for any potential reductions 1972 budget which appear to be in our interest. We must remember, however, to be successful this effort US Dels must avoid, to greatest extent possible, supporting creating of new Comites or Secretariat units, convening of new conferences, and calling for new studies and reports by Secretariat. We assume Dept’s position paper for GA will fully take this essential fact into account. In this connection must recognize that in past US has supported majority of GA reses calling for reports by SYG and various UN bodies and that we are now paying price in budgetary increases.
- To assist US Del in securing budgetary reductions USUN urges Dept make concerted effort to identify programs reflected in SYG budget estimates which marginal and/or nonessential, and which not in interest of US Govt. While this exercise difficult in absence of program budget in UN, USUN believes this approach to budgeting has some chance of restraining and/or directing growth. Programs thus identified wld provide US Del needed info to consult with other dels and to focus discussion in GA. Also this wld provide clear guidance to US Del in various comites, especially 2nd and 3rd, when considering and acting on program proposals before 5th Comite takes up budget estimates and cost implications.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10. Limited Official Use.↩
- See Document 165 and footnote 3 thereto.↩
- Telegram 160825 is dated September 1. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 17–1) Telegrams 2509 and 2532 from USUN are dated September 2 and 3, respectively. (Ibid., UN 10) Telegram 2593 from USUN is dated September 9. (Ibid., UN 13) Telegram 2035 from USUN is dated July 28. (Ibid., UN 10–1) Telegram 5627 from Vienna is dated September 13. (Ibid., INCO 10 UN) Telegram 2638 from USUN is dated September 9. (Ibid., COMMERCE DEPT)↩