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

4704. For the Legal Adviser and Assistant Secretary DePalma. Subj: Legal Aspects of 25 Percent—Action Message.

DelOff followed up AM conversation with Sloan of UN Legal Office (reported septel)2 with discussion with UN Legal Counsel late 15 Nov. Stavropoulos took distinctly harmful position that “Of course your resolution involves a ‘budgetary question’ within the meaning of Article 18(2)” and therefore would require a 2/3 vote for adoption by plenary. DelOff noted that, were Stavropoulos to take this position, he might by his own hand bring about a crisis in US relations with the UN. He replied he understands the importance that Washington places on 25 percent but said he cannot, for political reasons, advise Trepczynski that the law is what he, Stavropoulos, thinks the law is not. He asked expressly specifically that the Legal Adviser be told that, if he is to be of assistance, Stavropoulos must be given a paper by the US that seeks to establish that our narrow interpretation of “budgetary” to include only immediate appropriations or expenditure questions is correct. He would consider with the greatest care such a paper. He said Sloan and his staff were trying to produce the arguments “for you” but had not yet done so.
Stavropoulos argued that, were it not for the US resolution, prospective contributions to the UN budget by the two German states would redound to the benefit of other members, their budgetary contributions being lessened thereby. DelOff pointed out this would not in any event be the case with the large majority of members whose contributions are at the 0.04 percent floor; even following Stavropoulos’ argument, the U.S. resolution would not as to these members involve a “budgetary question”. Moreover, DelOff argued, the recent practice of the UN showed that, off-again-on-again US contrary arguments notwithstanding, the GA had pretty consistently interpreted “budgetary question” narrowly to include only appropriations or expenditure proposals, which were not involved in our resolution. Indeed, a broader interpretation would have meant that practically every action proposed by the 5th Committee would require a 2/3 vote, which had certainly not been the case in practice. Stavropoulos repeated several [Page 362]times that our proposal involves questions of “income” for many members and must therefore be a “budgetary question”.
Comment action requested: (A) We hope that reiteration of importance of 25 percent to whole character of US attitude may have stopped Stavropoulos from discussing his view with other delegations, at least for the moment. (B) Request that Department prepare a paper that can be given Stavropoulos on the 18(2) question.
Discussion with Stavropoulos will be reported septel Thurs AM.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Confidential; Priority; Limdis.
  2. Document 198.