253. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • The Problem of Paul Hoffman and the UNDP

The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) is the UN instrument for handling multilateral economic assistance to developing countries. Its health and vigor, therefore, is of great potential importance to us, although it is now much less important than the World Bank, and some other international financial institutions.

Paul Hoffman has been the head of the UNDP since it was founded. He is now 79 years old, and there had been widespread hope that Hoffman would step down gracefully and in glory when his term ended in December.

Hoffman is determined, however, to stay on until he has completed the important reorganization of UNDP now afoot and Secretary General U Thant has reappointed Hoffman for another one-year term. (There is, however, hope that Hoffman will step down in July or August.)

Hoffman’s reappointment is the source of general disappointment, but will be accepted without overt opposition in view of the fact that nobody wants to end his long public service on a sour note.

Hoffman is very sensitive about being replaced, and is irritated at the speculation as to his probable successor. There is, of course, no way to stop such speculation, and we cannot, in our own interests, any longer delay the process of tying down the job for an American successor.

The maneuvering to replace Hoffman is already well underway. Deputy UN Secretary General Narasimhan hungers for the job, and is moving actively and deftly to line up support. Narasimhan is a devious character, and if he succeeded Hoffman, it would be a grievous blow to U.S. interests.

If we are going to go multilateral with our aid, it is essential that the head of the UNDP continue to be an American in order to facilitate Congressional support for the program. It is, however, by no means certain that we will succeed. The Secretary General has complete discretion [Page 455] to name the UNDP Chief, and there will be considerable international sentiment for naming someone other than an American.

To get our candidate appointed, we will need broad international support. To get that support, we will have to have a candidate of stature and proven administrative ability. He will not only need to be overwhelmingly qualified, but to be internationally recognized as such. A lesser-known figure, however deserving and competent, would probably not make it, and the job would go to a non-American, possibly Narasimhan.

On the other hand, if we start now, we should be able to obtain U Thant’s support and that of other leading nations in the UNDP. Both U Thant and the British have indicated that they will support a qualified American candidate—but both have stressed the word “qualified”. The next month or so will see basic decisions taken on the reorganization of the UNDP and the filling of some key executive positions therein. It is obviously desirable that Hoffman’s replacement be identified so that he can work with Hoffman in making these decisions.

In short, there is an overwhelming need to select without delay the man we want to succeed Paul Hoffman.

I have four names to suggest for your consideration. We have no idea of the availability of the last three.


Graham Martin. Martin has had extensive experience in the development work starting with the Federal Security Administration in pre-World War II days and including significant roles in the Marshall Plan, the U.S. Economic Assistance Program, and the Alliance for Progress. In Thailand, he did an outstanding job of tailoring our AID program to outside sources of assistance and in stimulating widespread interest in Southeast Asia regionalism. Martin knows international organizations (he was our Ambassador to the European Office of the UN and U.S. Representative to the 21st Conference of the International Red Cross) and his various activities should insure widespread international sympathy for his candidacy. Martin is the kind of person who could bend the UNDP to his will and make the thing begin to function well. In short, I think he could win the job—and I think he could do the job.

The only argument against Martin is that he has an important task in Rome. However, it will be easier to find someone to do Rome than to find someone equally qualified for the UNDP. Martin is interested in the UNDP job and would take it gladly if—but only if—you preferred to have him there rather than in Rome. Martin and McNamara have had their troubles in the past, but I think we can count upon that personality conflict resolving itself into “creative tension”.

Rudy Peterson. Peterson’s fatherhood of the study recommending the multilateralization of American economic aid would make him a logical and sympathetic candidate for this job.
Franklin Murphy. Murphy’s administrative experience and reputation as a person who enjoys your personal confidence should make him a viable candidate.
Tom Killefer. Killefer is now an executive with Chrysler, and was previously Vice President of the Export Import Bank and U.S. Executive Director of the Inter-American Bank. His experiences, therefore, directly relate to the UNDP function. He is by far the youngest of the names we are suggesting, an asset in view of the present dissatisfaction with Hoffman. Maury Stans’ office has checked Killefer out and gives him high marks both on political and professional grounds.

Whoever we select, it is essential that we consult with U Thant and our allies quietly on the selection before we make any public announcements. U Thant and the British have specifically asked for such consultations. Others expect it. If we meet these expectations, it will greatly enhance the likelihood of our candidate’s success.

George Bush vigorously concurs with this memo. I am attaching at Tab A a brief note from George to a member of my staff which shows the importance and the urgency with which he views this problem.2 Peter Flanigan also concurs.


That you indicate which, if any, of the above names you wish us to approach to determine their availability for the UNDP job.3





  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 300, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VI. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. “The President has seen” is stamped on the memorandum.
  2. In this January 28 note to Marshall Wright, attached but not printed, Bush endorsed Kissinger’s memorandum, but expressed misgivings about Peterson’s age. Bush recognized the need for “a vigorous new administrator” and for a tactful handling of Hoffman’s replacement, and expressed his willingness to sit in on any meeting between Nixon and Hoffman.
  3. Handwritten numbers on the names below indicate that Nixon’s choices, in order of preference, were Peterson, Killefer, Martin, and Murphy.