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

1661. Subj: UN Financial Problems—BushWaldheim Meeting May 5.

Summary: Amb Bush had seventy minute in depth discussion with SYG and his senior advisors May 5 on certain UN financial matters SYG had raised with Bennett April 28. Reduction in US contribution to 25 percent, UNROD, US proposals in salary review committee were main topics covered. Bush reiterated US determination to work by negotiation toward reduction of US budgetary contribution to 25 percent as well as to narrow differential between total compensation paid UN personnel in NY and US civil service scales.SYG at length explained political and morale problems US actions causing him. End Summary.
Amb Bush accompanied by Newlin called on SYG to discuss certain financial problems SYG raised with Amb Bennett April 28. Contrary to his usual practice, SYG called in USYG Morse, Hennig and finally Narasimhan. Discussion was extremely frank on both sides.
Bush expressed pleasure that through combined efforts of USG and US House Foreign Affairs Committee in considering State authorization had voted not to reduce contributions appropriation or to legislate US contribution of 25 percent. Margin was narrow but we would continue to work on problem to see that recommendation not overturned on House floor. Bush and Department also in touch with Senate leadership.
SYG expressed appreciation. At same time, he stated he did not agree with statements attributed to U Thant and Narasimhan made before Waldheim was elected that US share should be reduced in absence of funds from other quarters. Unless amount of reduction could be made up by monies from other contributors, US reduction to 25 percent would be “disastrous.” When two Germanies admitted this would be new situation promising opportunity for relief but at present US policy created uneasiness among membership. Moreover, this stimulated anti-UN forces in Congress. SYG spoke with heat about members who professed support for UN but at same time would not provide resources so UN could function properly.
Bush closed this part of conversation by stressing US policy was to work toward announced goal of 25 percent through due process and negotiation and he required assistance of SYG in efforts to fend off attempts to legislate unilateral US reduction. SYG again expressed appreciation for efforts of Bush, DePalma and others.
Bush next took up salary review committee. SYG had told Bennett US pressing for UN salary reduction of 10 percent. There was obviously some misunderstanding here. US not proposing cut in present salaries, but proposing gradually to narrow differential between compensation paid UN personnel assigned to UNHQ and amounts paid for equivalent work in US civil service.
After lengthy technical discussion in which Narasimhan joined in, SYG admitted US was not, as he had stated previously, proposing immediate salary cuts. Rather, effect over few years as cost of living goes up and post allowances remain same would be to narrow differential between UN/US total emoluments from average of 25 percent to 15 percent. SYG said this would cause tremendous morale problems in Secretariat. Even more serious, it would make it impossible to recruit competent Secretariat officials from Western Europe. Recognized US made special arrangements for Americans overseas (i.e., “salary topping”) working for UN as did Soviets. SYG then at great length explained difficulty of recruiting personnel from Western Europe. UN had to depend on skilled personnel from missions and in almost all cases such personnel already less well compensated by UN than when they provided diplomatic allowances in missions. Consequently, only nationalities who would want to work for UN would be Soviets and Africans since they would be attracted by UN salary scales. SYG expressed serious concern that it thus would become increasingly difficult to recruit Americans for UN in N.Y.
Bush stressed that he and Dept. had difficulty obtaining support for UN in Congress and therefore it necessary to eliminate reasons for criticism of UN. Congress found it especially hard to understand why UN personnel assigned to N.Y. paid 25 percent more than highest paid civil servants in the world. Bush repeatedly emphasized that present circumstances required austerity measures in UN. US and other member states had taken such internal measures and UN would have to see what it could do.
Narasimhan observed US proposals would depart from concepts of last 25 years and would risk breaking up UN common salary system. In confidence, Narasimhan provided us with circular letter to members of CCAQ from Secretary Salary Review Comite reporting on progress of comite to date (pouched IO/Hennes).
On UNROD Bush and SYG had relatively brief discussion over lack of US funds for use in clearing of Chittagong harbor which had [Page 334]resulted in Soviets being asked by Mujib to do the job. SYG said he thought US had contributed millions but he was astonished when Hagen (UNROD) told him this was all in commodities and services and there no cash available to UN for this purpose. By time situation brought to attention SYG and alternate funds located, Mujib had lost patience with UN and approached Soviets who agreed to take on task. Bush said he not aware of this problem in time. On other hand, US had contributed aid to UN which was some 80 percent of total UN effort and such criticism did not sit well with USG. SYG admitted UN had been at fault for not raising problem earlier.
On administrative side, SYG assured Bush he did not intend to separate office of personnel from office of USYG, admin and management, retaining status quo for arrival of Davidson (new USYG/AM).
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. Confidential; Exdis.