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

4860. Subj: Reduction in US Assessment.

Summary: Ten reps spoke Nov 20 in UNGA 5th Comite on US draft res (A/C.5/L.1091). Three expressed support, 3 opposed, and 4 waffled.

Yugo kicked off debate with long elliptical defense of capacity to pay principle quoting Mexican, Canadian and UK interventions in defense of same during 1946 debate in UNGA on assessment question. Said “despite welcomed US voluntary support of UNDP, Yugo del cannot support US initiative.”
Ghana (Cleland) called for additional time to study US proposal since doubtful that implications on US and other dels of draft res had been fully studied. Referring to Lodge Commission recommendation that reduction in US assessment to 25 percent be achieved over number of years, asked whether US del prepared to consider postponement. [Page 370]Citing rumored US disenchantment with UN, particularly after PRC admission during 26th session GA, wondered whether submission draft res at this GA might confirm these apprehensions. Proposed whole issue of ceiling be referred to Contributions Comite for study and report to 28th GA. Believed US del shld not find it difficult to accept this proposal for delay, since US willing to wait for admission of two Germanys to UN to apply reduction.
Cuba (Rodriguez) made strong defense of capacity to pay principle, and questioned concept of ceiling on major contribution. Added that ceiling on maximum has brought about situation in which during past 15 years other countries have absorbed part of US share (used figure of 7 per cent being absorbed by other members each year), stated that with increases of GNP over past years all countries paying more to UN regular budget except one (US). Repeated arguments made during general debate in Comite that US deriving great economic advantage from UN being located in US. Said economic benefit to US averages $1 billion on gross yearly, and $700 million net. (FYI—Cuban figures up from $600 million two weeks ago.) Concluded that his del wld cast categorical no on US res.
Liberia (Morris) gave eloquent and forceful defense of US multilateral assistance since World War II. Questioned whether any member in chamber cld with clear conscience question US generosity. Rather than horde gold bullion in Fort Knox, said US had transformed it into international medium of exchange permitting expansion of world trade during past half century which had effect of binding world together. Re economic benefits to US, said those received from UN expenditures in US “pale in comparison with good accomplished.” Tracing US draft res to 1946 Vandenberg position, expressed firm support for US.
Haitian rep, in announcing support for US proposal, also stressed continuity of 25 percent goal since 1946.
Argentina (De Prat Gay) cited recent increase in liquidity among industrialized countries and increased ability to pay. In low key said GOA was opposed to US res. Wld support Brazilian res (A/C.5/L.1092) calling for increased budget to low per capita income members.
Sri Lanka opened by expressing appreciation for what US had done since World War II for developing countries, including his own. Added “when history of 20th century written this will be recorded as outstanding contribution to betterment of the world as whole.” However, had number of difficulties with US proposal, especially it violating capacity to pay criterion. Nevertheless, his del was prepared to accept in principle ceiling reduction to 25 per cent; cld not support this being done immediately; but shld be carried out progressively in accordance with existing criteria. Also concerned that use of points provided by new members wld preclude downward revision for less [Page 371]affluent countries. Said cld not support proposal in toto and requested para-by-para vote of US draft res in separate vote. Sri Lanka wld vote for subpara (a) against subpara (b) and abstain on subpara (c).
Nigerian member tied US proposal to failure of US to achieve its objectives when China question voted at 26th GA. Also concerned that US action now was sign of diminution of US interest in UN, including US use of veto for first time on an African issue (Rhodesia). Suggested US furnish Contributions Comite with appropriate info for detailed study of question at later date.
Dominican Republic (Dipp-Gomez) enthusiastically supported US proposal, noting that it provided opportunity for UN to establish its financial independence.
Saudi Arabia (Baroody), after consulting with US rep, made long and impassioned plea to Comite to “face the facts” of reality. On question, UN had been jolted by recent action of US Congress, but for UN reps to vote against US res wld have no salutary effect on US Congress; on contrary, it might cause vindictiveness by Congress. Speaking to all dels, but especially small members, attempted to reduce US proposal to its simplest terms, i.e., request by US to reduce its current contribution to UN by $13.5 million from total amount contributed of $400 plus million; members must make choice between former reduction and likely further reduction against other $400 million. Queried: “What will have been gained by opposing US resolution?” Losers wld be all members, especially LDC’s who need UN. Recalled that US Congress had reduced US payment to ILO. Saying he was “not pitching for US”, Baroody emphasized he was simply facing realities even though he didn’t like it. He pleaded against hasty action on part of members to vote against US res. At this point, Baroody took radical turn and drifted off into polemics re need for spending retrenchment policy in UN, freeze on UN budget in real currency for 8 to 10 years, a halt to proliferation of UN bodies, etc. Concluded by calling on US rep to consider phasing [in] over time 6.5 per cent assessment reduction; if not possible asked US to find funds from USG “reserves” in order to circumvent Congressional action. Baroody said he had not yet decided how he wld vote.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Limited Official Use. Repeated to Accra, Belgrade, Buenos Aires, Colombo, Jidda, Lagos, Monrovia, Port-au-Prince, and Santo Domingo.