195. Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts 1

200130. Subj: Reduction of U.S. Assessment Rate in UN. Ref: State A–8349, State 165200.2

During past two and one-half months we have conducted intensive campaign to obtain support from UN member states for our proposal to reduce United States’ assessment rate in United Nations to 25 percent. Focus of our campaign has of course been in New York but posts have provided much appreciated assistance for this priority effort.
We expect assessment rate issue will be debated beginning November 15 and brought to vote in UNGA Administrative and Budgetary (Fifth) Committee and in plenary session of General Assembly within following week. While we do not have clear picture at this time how voting will go, recent developments indicate that if we can maintain momentum of our campaign during these final two weeks, we will be able to obtain necessary majority in Fifth Committee and two-thirds majority in General Assembly. (Latter majority will be necessary if, as we expect, proposal is considered important question under Article 18–2 of UN Charter.) However, we must intensify efforts 1) to win over uncommitted and wavering member states to vote affirmatively, 2) to neutralize or convert opponents to abstentions or better and 3) insure that those who have promised support deliver it and do not reverse themselves at last moment. USUN’s most recent vote count indicates 40 countries are either firmly in our camp or likely support us, 30 are indicating opposition and 62 are more or less uncommitted.
In the lobbying process thus far, certain strengths and alleged weaknesses of the U.S. proposal have received particular attention. Accordingly, although the essentials of the argument remain as stated in the referenced messages, we are providing the following highlights for use in the continuing efforts of posts to advance the U.S. proposal. They can be of assistance in carrying out separate instructions many posts will be receiving on approaches desired during the period preceding and during the critical discussion in the General Assembly.
Following are key arguments for U.S. proposal:
Present U.S. legislation requires that no money be appropriated for U.S. payments to the United Nations and its affiliated agencies at more than a 25 percent assessment level after December 1973. It is not the intention of the United States Government to violate its international obligations but it will have no alternative but to go into arrears if the U.S. proposal for a reduction does not become effective bythat time.

No UN member’s assessment rate will be raised as a result of the U.S. proposal for a 25 percent ceiling. A key paragraph of our resolution will explicitly state: “The percentage contribution of member states shall not, in any case, be increased as a consequence of the present resolution.”

An unfavorable vote on the reduction of the U.S. assessment could result in Congress reducing our voluntary contributions to the UN which we would like to maintain at a generous level. Thus, all developing countries stand to be significant losers if we are unsuccessful in our effort to reduce our rate of assessment.

Posts may hear economic arguments against our proposal that emphasize either the capacity to pay factor in determining assessments or the profits that accrue to the United States from the presence of the United Nations in New York. It is true that on the basis of a strict capacity to pay, the United States’ rate of assessment would be higher [Page 359]than its present 31.52. It is also true that the United States benefits economically from the UN’s presence in New York. For these reasons we have justified our position on political and not economic grounds. To these arguments, posts should respond as follows:
Political equity requires that in an organization of sovereign and equal states approaching universality of membership, an extreme disparity between contribution levels must be reduced.
Prudence and political realism dictate that it is unhealthy for an international organization to be unduly dependent on one contributor for financial support.
Posts also may wish to stress that our proposal does not reflect a lessening of U.S. interest in the United Nations. We want the UN to perform its mission with greater effectiveness and with a more equitable sharing of responsibilities. To that end we want to maintain our substantial level of contributions to voluntary programs.
Action requested: Posts should take every opportunity to advance U.S. proposal that promises to be productive. Specific instructions to many individual posts have or will be forthcoming.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Everts; cleared by Hennes, Walker, McNutt, Chase, Monsma, and Rendall; and approved by von Peterffy. Sent to Manama, Nouakchott, and Sanaa and repeated to USUN, Brussels (NATO), Bern, Berlin, Bonn, Saigon, Taipei, Dacca, Vienna (IAEA), Paris (OECD), and Suva.
  2. For airgram A–8349, see footnote 2, Document 183. Telegram 165200 is Document 186.