185. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • U.S. Efforts to Reduce our United Nations Assessment
[Page 342]

The following responds to Mrs. Davis’ memorandum of August 29 on the above subject.2

We have begun intensive efforts to reduce the U.S. rate of assessment in the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies to 25%. We have instructed our posts in capitals of UN member states to request support for the U.S. position in the General Assembly this fall. We have complemented these démarches with approaches both to the permanent missions in New York and to Secretariat officials of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies and have called in selected Embassy representatives in Washington. The levels at which contacts have already been made have been those customarily utilized for issues on which we are planning to pursue a strong initiative at the General Assembly. The Secretary will no doubt be discussing the matter in his conversations in New York at the outset of the General Assembly.

Thus far the results of our approaches have been inconclusive. We had not expected an early favorable reaction because what we are in effect asking other members to do is to pay more so that the United States may pay less.

A recurrent note in most reactions to date is one of dismay at what is regarded as further evidence that the U.S. is downgrading the UN. Many have asked what we plan to do about voluntary contributions, particularly the UN Development Program. A few have not only expressed understanding for our proposal but gone on to say that they believe it is in the best interest of the UN.

Initial reactions of the Scandinavian members have encouraged us to hope that they will be willing to provide some of the leadership toward establishing a new UN ceiling rate of 25%. They would be doing this in our judgment in an attempt to save the United Nations from the consequences of a U.S. short-fall in meeting our assessed contributions.

Gibson Lanpher 3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Confidential. Drafted by Hennes and cleared by Assistant Secretary De Palma, von Peterffy, and South-worth. A copy was sent to Stottlemyer at USUN.
  2. In this August 29 memorandum the NSC requested information about the U.S. campaign to negotiate a reduction in its UN assessment, especially the level of foreign officials to be approached and the arguments that were expected to be most persuasive. The NSC requested periodic reports, with the first one due by September 5. (Ibid.)
  3. Lanpher signed for Eliot above Eliot’s typed signature.