31. Memorandum From Herbert Levin of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • “Universality” of Membership in the U.N.

You asked for my views on this subject. These appear below. Universality of U.N. membership is also being dealt with in an internal NSC staff study2 and NSSM 107.3

Universality has a lot of superficial appeal; it appears to be a common-sense answer to our Chirep difficulty. Further examination, however, suggests this is not necessarily the case.

The quickest way to spotlight the difficulties is by examining the fact that “universality” of U.N. membership is undefined and probably undefinable. If we favored such a broad policy, and it was accepted by the U.N., we would find ourselves contending with the entry into the U.N. of Sihanouk, the South Moluccas, the PRC, Rhodesia, etc., to say nothing of the difficulties which would arise in our relations with the Micro-states.

If we try to get agreement on “universality” as meaning just the divided states, we might end up with it applying only, for example, to Korea. This could happen if the Germans are not ready to move or if the Soviets use the veto against South Vietnam.

China is a representation question; the divided states are membership problems. Thus, while these questions are inter-related in many [Page 51]ways, in actual handling they become quite different. The main point of difference is that whereas the divided states are agreed that they are divided, and might cautiously agree that someday they should be reunited, the two Chinese governments agree that China is not divided, and that the only question is to choose which is the “sole legitimate government of all China.”

This leaves us with only three likely options on Chirep:

  • —To maintain something like our past position in foreknowledge of the likelihood of early defeat, or
  • —to move to some sort of dual representation for “one China,” without linking to other states membership problems. There are also dangers for defeat for this position, though it holds out some possibility of preserving a U.N. position for the GRC while establishing U.S. policy in a more defensible and common-sense mold, or
  • —to define universality to meet our needs. This would bar expulsion of the GRC, not compel us to vote against Peking’s participation and not get us involved in anything which would appear to be a “Two Chinas” maneuver. This would be most complex tactically since it would encompass a number of questions along with dual representation for China, but might have some appeal at the U.N.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 299, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. V. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Document 312.
  4. Kissinger highlighted this paragraph and wrote below it: “How do we do that? Please explain.”