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

757. Subj: Proposed Reduction of US Assessment Percentage to 25 Per Cent.

Summary: Discussions in New York indicated that proposed US effort to secure reduction of assessment percentage to 25 per cent will be strongly resisted and faces serious danger of embarrassing defeat. Action requested: (1) that Department inform USUN its thinking and planning this matter, and (2) that Department consider exploratory approach to capitals in order to assess chances of success and determine tactics to be followed.

During the past week Whalley (UK) and Matheson (Canada) have discussed with MisOffs the announced US intention to seek a reduction in its UN assessment percentage to 25 per cent. They have asked whether we seriously intended to propose such a decision by the GA at its next session.
When MisOffs stated their belief that the Dept would seek a GA decision at the next session which would reduce the US assessment percentage to 25 per cent, both Whalley and Matheson expressed disbelief. Whalley said Dept must be aware from fairly recent confrontation re ICAO scale of assessments that UK Govt would strongly oppose such an Assembly decision. They both said that they did not believe that more than a handful of member states could be persuaded to vote for such a decision.
When MisOffs spoke to Dept’s strongly held view that US assessment percentage above 25 per cent could no longer be justified and that it was in interest of UN that no one member state pay more than 25 per cent, both Whalley and Matheson said that while they understood the US position, they could not accept it. They both said that their govts had equally strong views that capacity to pay was the proper basis for assessments and that they believed that they were both already over-assessed in relation to the US. Accordingly, they said their govts simply could not accept the idea that they abandon their own valid interests simply because the US felt it should pay no more than 25 per cent. Even when MisOffs related reduction of US percentage to admission of new members, Whalley and Matheson said that they believed their govts would not accept the proposition that the US should obtain the maximum benefit from the admission of the two Germanies.
In view of foregoing, would appreciate Dept’s advise re
what specific action does Dept propose at next GA. (This will be earliest opportunity to raise matter since Committee on Contributions not competent to deal with it.) If we intend to link it to admission of new members and specifically to admission of two Germanies? Do we intend to seek a reduction immediately, or on fixed dates, or do we have in mind a reduction in principle effective over a period of years as new members may be admitted?
Does Dept intend to make an all-out fight on this issue, regardless of odds against our being successful and political consequences if we are defeated?
Has thought been given to possible impact of our proposed reduction on other major contributors such as USSR, France, Japan, China, and UK, who will necessarily be adversely effected by any reduction we might achieve? Can we propose action which adversely affects other major contributors and then expect them to work with us on other issues of interest to us?
Does Dept intend to go to capitals on this issue and, if so, when?
In our view, this is such a serious issue, and danger of suffering embarrassing defeat so great, that we recommend Dept go to capitals as soon as possible in effort to make our case and establish what our chances of success. Result of such a canvass should help US determine not only whether to proceed but also what approach is most likely to have chance of success.
If Dept decides to approach capitals, should be aware of a new and growing problem in relating reduction in US percentage to 25 per cent to admission of two Germanies. In attempting find solution to UN deficit problem, some UN delegates now discussing question of whether possible solution might be to carry assessment percentage of newly admitted Germanies outside regular scale of assessments for several years and to devote contributions of two Germanies during those years to replenishment of UN working capital fund. If this line of thinking gains further adherents, then there will be even greater reluctance than was earlier anticipated to accept proposition that assessment percentages of the newly admitted Germanies should be devoted primarily to reducing the assessment percentage of the US. Of course might be possible combine two approaches, using contributions of Germanies first to rebuild WCF and thereafter to reduce US percentage.
Would appreciate Dept’s guidance at early date.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Confidential.