252. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Mr. Paul Hoffman’s Request for an Appointment with You

Recommendation:

I recommend that you see Mr. Hoffman, Administrator of t e United Nations Development Program, in order to stress that the selection of a well-qualified American successor is of crucial importance to U.S. interests and to U.S. support for the UN Development Program.

You may wish to point out that we have delayed proposing a successor while awaiting his decision about another term. Since we now understand he may retire by July 1971, you hope to be in a position to propose a successor soon with whom Mr. Hoffman would be able to discuss personnel and organizational problems and thereby facilitate the transition.

You may want to make clear that the United States greatly values the outstanding contribution he has made as Administrator.

Discussion:

We understand that Mr. Hoffman is seeking an appointment with you and may protest any action to propose his successor while he is still in office.

Ambassadors Phillips and Olds of our Mission to the United Nations called on Mr. Hoffman December 11 under instructions from the Department to discuss several matters, including the campaign undertaken by C. V. Narasimhan (Indian member of the Secretariat who serves simultaneously as Hoffman’s deputy and U Thant’s Chef de Cabinet and who possesses an inordinate vanity and appetite for power) to insure that he succeeds Hoffman. Phillips and Olds pointed out we have solid evidence that Narasimhan has been soliciting support for his candidacy in Europe and the Far East, and that he has also been recommending appointments in UNDP which would provide him with a power base in the organization.

Hoffman was greatly distressed at this overt discussion of his succession and seemed disturbed by the report of Narasimhan’s tactics. [Page 453]Hoffman indicated he was unhappy that the U.S. Government was talking about his successor at this time and said it would be extremely unfortunate for the UNDP if the selection of his successor was pursued before he was ready to retire.

Mr. Hoffman’s intentions about his own future with the UNDP are still unknown. His contract has been renewed by U Thant until January 1, 1972, but, although he has never informed us directly of his intentions we have been told that the Secretary General understands Hoffman plans to retire in July 1971. He has indicated that he would like to be succeeded by David Morse, former head of the ILO, on an interim basis at some time in the future. We oppose Morse because of his age and his specialized agency orientation, which the UNDP must counter if it is to achieve the effectiveness we and other major donors desire.

Hoffman’s advanced age (79) and the major role of UNDP in multilateral economic development make it essential that a capable successor take over the Program at an early date. His sensitivity on the subject of his retirement has made this problem worse. The growing resentment among other delegations on the UNDP Governing Council at the elderly “set-in-their-ways” leadership of UNDP may soon reach such proportions as to lead to their public repudiation of Mr. Hoffman, despite their admiration for the outstanding job he has done over the years in developing the UNDP. Such resentment might also lead to suggestions for the appointment of a non-American as Administrator, even though most major donors believe an American should hold the post.

It is also possible that Hoffman might resign immediately in pique if he feels he is being badly treated. His resignation now would probably result in the appointment of Narasimhan as Acting Administrator and his use of the next six to twelve months to stack UNDP with his own men.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 300, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VI. Confidential.