264. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rogers in Brussels1

Tosec 45/222645. Subject: Succession to Ralph Bunche.2

We have made a further review of possible alternative courses of action and have concluded that our interests are best served in maintaining, and if necessary reinforcing, our position that the successor to Bunche should and will be furnished by the United States. While we understand that vacancy will be filled only after the new SYG has come into office, you should make sure that U Thant, Secretariat and others who ask are in no doubt that we expect to provide qualified candidate for that position.
As we see it, the Under Secretary General for Special Political Affairs is a key political position even though its effectiveness will depend on
the incumbent’s personal relationship with the SYG;
his caliber, stature and experience with UN; and
his understanding of US policy and decision-making processes.
We understand there can be no assurance that this Under Secretary will have the operating responsibilities and degree of autonomy in peacekeeping operations that Ralph Bunche exercised; but it seems to us that, given the kind of man who can operate effectively in the UN system, incumbent could exercise considerable influence on the SYG not only in broad range of political matters but in others as well.
We have considered the alternative of seeking instead to provide an American candidate for position of Under Secretary for Administration, but concluded that the past record does not augur well for incumbent of that position to exercise significant influence on administration and budgetary matters of greatest concern to us. There is a history of US attempts to use such positions in UN and other agencies to exert influence on key administrative decisions, and record is not encouraging. Moreover, in a period in which we shall have to bear down hard on UN for economy and efficiency, it could prove awkward to have a US national in charge of administration since his actions [Page 469] would appear to be directed by his Govt. On the other hand, we tend to believe that a capable Under Secretary for Special Political Affairs could exercise influence on the SYG himself in regard to some budgetary and administrative decisions as well.
As we see it, the key to proper utilization of the Bunche position will lie in coming up with the right kind of candidate who, by virtue of his qualifications and experience, will be able to get off to the right start with the new SYG.
At the same time, we hope to maintain US nationals in key deputy or similar levels in administration areas. Would appreciate USUN assessment whether US nationals now occupy adequate number such positions and if not which we should seek. Occurs to us that in process selecting new SYG we might wish make clear our desires in this area as well as nailing down Under Secretary position.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Herz and Assistant Secretary De Palma, cleared by Pedersen and Curran, and approved by Acting Secretary Irwin. Rogers was in Brussels for a NATO ministerial meeting.
  2. Bunche retired as Under Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs on October 1 and died on December 9, 1971.