38. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Progress Report Concerning United States Government Participation in UNESCO

In my memorandum to you of March 30, 1971 on “Assessment of and Department Policy Toward United States Government Participation in UNESCO2 I stated that I would submit to you, by December 1, 1971, a progress report.

Attached is that report.3

In preparing this report the Department has indicated the progress made in achieving the strategy objectives outlined in the March 30, 1971 memorandum, i.e.:

increase the number of Americans holding professional positions in UNESCO;
exercise greater influence in UNESCO policies and programs;
improve the quality of our delegations to conferences and meetings;
clearly establish United States policy and program positions for UNESCO;
utilize UNESCO more effectively to demonstrate American achievements;
advance the United States as an example of an open and free society and so counter Communist distortions;
strengthen the United States National Commission for UNESCO in order to capitalize on its potential for support of UNESCO programs.

Progress in keeping with the strategy objectives has occurred in the following areas:

all UNESCO-oriented offices in the Department have been consolidated in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs to provide more effective and coordinated utilization of human and material resources;
under the leadership of the United States, the major Western contributors to UNESCO (the so-called Geneva Group) agreed on setting a ceiling for UNESCO’s 1973–1974 budget beyond which they were not prepared to support the Director-General’s budgetary request;
planning for closer harmonization of activities between the United States National Commission for UNESCO and the operational office in the Department is well under way, and will result in giving the Commission a more constructive role in furthering our interests in UNESCO;
frank and useful discussions were held with UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, an American citizen. He was put on notice that the United States would be seeking a reduction of its share of the assessed budget (currently 29.80%) and alerted to the programs of prime interest to the United States;
a series of fact-finding trips were taken to various countries in Asia, Africa and South America. 98 UNESCO projects were inspected and a critical evaluation of their worth and contribution to UNESCO’s aims is being made;
American positions in UNESCO’s Headquarters Staff increased from 84 on January 1, 1971, (12.5% of all professional posts) to 96(13.8%) on November 15, 1971. During the same period, Americans in posts in field projects increased from 41 (4.7%) to 55 (5.3%);
the Department submitted a major paper to UNESCO as a part of the continuing effort to influence the Organization’s future course. The paper stressed the need for examination and review of the value of UNESCO programs, the elimination of peripheral projects, the diversion of funds to areas of prime interest to this nation, and need for sound evaluation procedures. These points were stressed orally during the October 1971 meeting of UNESCO’s Executive Board;
UNESCO convened and successfully concluded three major scientific conferences during the past eight months. Each was of significance to the United States scientific community and to the United States Government;
the United States Delegation to the recently-concluded Executive Board meeting of UNESCO, supported by eight co-sponsors, submitted a resolution calling attention to Soviet manipulation of texts of the Russian language edition of the UNESCO Courier, UNESCO’s official monthly publication. Although action on the item was postponed [Page 63] until the Executive Board’s meeting in the Spring of 1972, the view was clearly expressed and the item will be vigorously pursued;
major newspaper and magazine editorials and news articles on UNESCO’s 25th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremonies held in Paris on November 4–5 were highly favorable and reflected the reservoir of good will that exists around this country for UNESCO;
during the short period under review not all objectives were subject to progress due to certain uncontrollable external factors. Such an item is number three concerning delegations, inasmuch as there was no UNESCO General Conference during the review period.

I am convinced we are making progress in reaching our goals in UNESCO. Given additional time and steadfastness in our determination I know further advances will be achieved.

U Alexis Johnson 4
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IX. Confidential.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., Box 301, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VII) A May 3 memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon summarized the Department’s conclusions as follows: “We should stay in UNESCO. We should take steps to improve the quality of our participation in the organization. We should maintain our current financial contributions to UNESCO, but vigorously resist budgetary increases.” The second page bears Nixon’s handwritten response: “This sounds much too ‘go along with things as they are but have a 7-point program to appear otherwise.’ I want a deliberate policy of cutting up UNESCO at every opportunity when we can get away with it—foreign policy wise. Prepare new program to achieve this goal. The difference I have with whoever prepared this paper is that they believe in UNESCO. I do not.”
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Johnson signed for Rogers above Rogers’ typed signature.