43. Memorandum From the Acting Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Miller) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Report on Implementation of Lodge Commission Recommendations on the United Nations2

The President’s Commission for the Observance of the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations, chaired by Ambassador Lodge, last year made over ninety recommendations for improving the performance of the United Nations and the effectiveness of U.S. participation in international organizations. On the President’s instruction the Department has been assessing the conclusions of the Lodge Commission to determine to what extent and how soon they can be acted upon.

During the past year we gave an interim accounting before a Congressional committee and recently briefed the Department’s Advisory Committee on International Organizations on where we stand. At the urging of the Advisory Committee and because we believe the time opportune, we have prepared a report on the current status of action on the Commission’s proposals. We describe what we have accomplished, obstacles we have encountered and promising areas for future action.

We propose to send copies to members of the Lodge Commission and the Advisory Committee, and will also make it available on request to nongovernmental organizations and the general public.

Here are the highlights:

The paramount value of the Lodge Commission’s effort is that it focused public attention on the realities of the UN system. Accomplishments and possibilities for action through the UN are real but shortcomings must be corrected if we are to rely on international institutions in the coming years.
We agree with the Commission’s position favoring reform rather than a basic restructuring of the UN system which we think is out of the question. We shall take advantage of opportunities and trends in the UN to press for specific reforms.
While we may differ with the Commission on relative priorities and on the prospects for implementation, the philosophy and conclusions of the report are consonant with the outlook and approach the U.S. Government has taken toward international organizations and in many cases reflect policies and initiatives already being actively pursued. These include streamlining the General Assembly; accommodating microstates without swamping the membership rolls; putting new life into the Security Council and the World Court; putting the UN’s financial and administrative house in order; providing better coordination of UN efforts in economic, social, and technical fields; strengthening peacekeeping; and channeling more aid through multilateral agencies. The Commission’s thinking also parallels ours in urging that the UN system extend its reach further into social and humanitarian fields (population, drug abuse, disaster relief) and the frontiers opened by the new technologies.
During the past year we selected about a third of the Commission’s recommendations as timely for action; some have already been accomplished. In particular, we made progress in (a) more effective policy coordination of economic, social and humanitarian activities and (b) drafting rules and building institutions to deal with global problems of population, drug abuse, aircraft hijacking, ocean resources and law of the seas, and environment.
On the other side of the ledger, we have found the going quite heavy in trying to follow through on certain recommendations. For example, despite our best efforts we made very little progress in streamlining General Assembly procedures, providing associate status for microstates, or stirring even a faint interest in reviving the World Court. Also, we have yet to get around the roadblock to workable and desirable peacekeeping arrangements, though we have recently circulated in the UN our ideas for peacekeeping ground rules which we had proposed more than two years ago in bilateral talks with the Soviet Delegation. Nor have we found a way to accommodate the legitimate demands of emerging world powers for more continuous seating in the Security Council.
The reason for the slow motion is that while there is a broad consensus on the conceptual level—that the UN should be reformed and its agenda and management modernized—there is only limited agreement at the political and programmatic levels. Another hurdle is that some important steps urged by the Commission require Congressional support (e.g. a substantially increased contribution to the UN Development Program) and compete with other international and domestic priorities.
Nevertheless, we believe there are still possibilities for action on additional recommendations which span a broad range of U.S. interests in the UN.

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We believe this report will testify to the realistic and positive way we have responded to the work of the Lodge Commission.

Robert H. Miller
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. No classification marking.
  2. The report, dated August 15, is attached but not printed.