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


  • Chinese Representation in UN-Related and Specialized Agencies

In the wake of the passage of the Albanian Resolution in the UN General Assembly, we need to formulate the US position with regard to the participation of the Republic of China (ROC) in UN-related and specialized agencies. The timing, the manner in which the issue will arise and the likely outcome will vary from agency to agency.2

We have already begun to face the question of Chinese representation in the specialized agencies. There are no scheduled plenary meetings of these agencies before the end of the year, but the UNESCO [Page 866]Executive Board is considering the question of Chinese representation on October 28. There are two proposals before the UNESCO Executive Board. One is an Algerian motion requiring the Director General to address all communications regarding the execution of the UNESCO program to the PRC rather than the ROC. The other is a Mexican proposal calling for the convening of a special session of the UNESCO General Conference to deal with this matter. We are opposing the first and seeking to delay the second on the grounds that there is no evidence of any PRC intention to participate in UNESCO. The executive organs of ICAO and the ILO will meet in early November and the IAEA Board of Governors in December.

As in the case of UNESCO, executive bodies of other specialized agencies meeting before the next sessions of their plenary bodies will probably be urged to take some interim action which would have the effect of excluding the ROC from participation. Even technical commissions or the secretariats of these agencies might undertake actions in this direction.

Although there is no indication as yet of any PRC intention to participate in these bodies, it has made known its view that the ROC should be expelled from all specialized agencies. The People’s Republic of China and its supporters will certainly press the position that the General Assembly action means that the Republic of China should not participate in the activities of most, if not all, of the UN-related and specialized agencies. As the vote on the Albanian Resolution signified, there will be strong support for this position generally. The UN Secretariat is also strongly disposed to accommodate the early entry of the PRC and the early departure of the ROC from UN-related bodies. We have requested USUN to inform the Secretary-General that we are opposed to any irregular actions by executive or subsidiary organs of these agencies seeking to prejudge decisions which should be taken by the membership as a whole.

The Republic of China has indicated that it regards its announced withdrawal from the UN to apply also to subsidiary UN organs (the Security Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council and its Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) and UNICEF). The Foreign Minister has stated that the ROC does not regard its decision as applying to those specialized agencies of which it is a member: International Labor Organization (ILO), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Development Association (IDA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Intenational Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), [Page 867]World Meteorology Organization (WMO), Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) or to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He also said that the ROC has decided in principle to fight to preserve its membership in each of the specialized agencies. We will want to obtain a more specific reading of the way in which the ROC envisages handling this issue in each agency. The position we propose to take may importantly influence the ROC approach.

In the past to protect the ROC’s seat we have consistently taken the position that specialized agencies should be guided by the UNGA Resolution 396 of December 14, 1950 which recommends that specialized agencies take into account the decision of the UNGA with regard to the representation of a member state. In supporting the ouster of the ROC from UN-related organs and specialized agencies, the Secretary General and other members are certain to cite this resolution and our previous position, the language of the Albanian resolution which passed (to expel the ROC from “all the organizations related to” the United Nations) as well as the language of our dual representation resolution which was not put to the vote (“recommends that all United Nations bodies and the specialized agencies take into account the provisions of this resolution in deciding the question of Chinese representation”).

In terms of the situations we will face, UN-related organs and specialized agencies can be divided into four categories:

Agencies and bodies with such integral ties with the UN that the ROC considers itself to have withdrawn from them. These include the Security Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council, ECAFE and UNICEF.
Agencies in which the question of Chinese representation will, for all practical purposes, have been virtually decided by the adoption of the Albanian resolution. These are agencies in which a substantial majority of the members voted for the Albanian resolution in the UNGA, most of whom will take a position in the agencies consistent with that vote. While there would in some cases be valid legal grounds for contesting the ouster of the ROC, since the supporters of the Albanian resolution insisted that the question was one of representation and not expulsion of a member, the voting strength to uphold this position would not be present in case of a challenge. These agencies include UNESCO, ICAO, IMCO, ILO, WHO, UPU, ITU and WMO. A preliminary study of the probable voting position of the members of these agencies indicates we would lose a fight to maintain ROC representation.
There are also the financial institutions, the IMF, the World Bank Group (IBRD, IDA, and IFC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). They have different provisions in their respective articles of agreement, which are under close study. In general, these economic institutions, of which the IMF and the World Bank Group have [Page 868]acknowledged themselves to be specialized agencies of the UN, have not always followed the guidance of UNGA resolutions. The possibility of ROC exclusion is, therefore, considered not to be so acute in these apolitical institutions in which we and other responsible nations enjoy a preponderant influence.
A case can be made for continued ROC participation in certain agencies by reason of their purely technical nature (ICAO, IAEA, UPU, ITU, WMO and IMCO) or because they engage in standard-setting or risk-limiting activities requiring the broadest membership to be effective (WHO and some others of the above). But, in the end, the decision is likely to be taken on political grounds and will be determined largely by the desire of a majority to assure PRC participation, if necessary on its own terms.
Lastly, there is the question of ROC participation in UN-related conferences and conventions. The normal position of the UNGA has been to apply the “Vienna formula” in issuing invitations. The Vienna formula provides for the invitation of states members of the United Nations, specialized agencies, the IAEA and parties to the International Court of Justice. Were the ROC able to continue to participate in the IMF or another specialized agency, there would be grounds for its inclusion under the Vienna formula. However, this position might be challenged on the grounds that, following the adoption of the Albanian resolution, the ROC is not a state recognized as such by the UN and the UN Secretariat and the General Assembly would probably support that interpretation. Our only recourse might be to ask for a ruling by the International Court of Justice, but that too would require approval by a majority.

This brief survey of the technical and voting considerations suggests that the realistic possibilities for the ROC retaining a position in UN-related organs and the specialized agencies are confined largely to the financial organizations and possibly some special arrangements could be reached in IAEA. Apart from these factors, our policy and posture toward the ROC and the PRC will, of course, bear on the positions we decide to take. We assume that:

We attach high priority to the normalization of our relations with the People’s Republic of China and accordingly would not wish to work intensively to impede its participation in the UN-related agencies and international conferences, particularly those where participation has significant political connotations. The PRC itself has given indications that it will want the ROC out of all UN-related activities if it is to participate in the UN and international conferences.
We wish to do what is feasible to avoid the rapid isolation of the ROC in the international community. This interest would be served if the ROC could participate in one or more of the UN-related or specialized agencies and thereby qualify for participation in the UN Development [Page 869]Fund and for inclusion in the Vienna formula and could therefore attend various international conferences and adhere to various conventions.

There will be a clear contradiction between these two objectives in most instances. We will, therefore, wish to examine each situation on a case-by-case basis before making a final determination. Moreover, the prospects of gaining sufficient support to maintain ROC representation in most of these agencies is dim and we shall have to consider how much more US prestige should be engaged in such an effort.

Pending further study of the matter, we can in the governing bodies where the question arises take the position that constitutional procedures must be observed and, without entering into the substance of the matter, vote against proposals based on irregular procedures or on attempts to prejudge decisions by organs competent to take them. We can also seek to deter action by the secretariats of the specialized agencies simply to decide to send correspondence and invitations to the PRC rather than the ROC without prior reference of the question to their plenary bodies or other organs competent to decide the matter.

We could also at this time speak to the ROC along the following general lines:

We wish to ascertain what the ROC position is with regard to its continued membership and participation in the various UN-related bodies and the specialized agencies.
We believe that the PRC may make its participation in the General Assembly contingent upon the expulsion of the ROC from all UN-related agencies. However, we do not have any clear indication regarding PRC intention to participate in the work of specific agencies.
We believe that the international financial institutions, the IMF and the other affiliated agencies, form quite a separate case in that they are apolitical and we and other responsible nations enjoy a preponderant influence in them. They offer the least likely possibility of ROC expulsion.
We would want to study very carefully the statutory and voting situation in UN-related organs and specialized agencies before formulating our position on a case-by-case basis. Frankly, the prospects for sustaining ROC participation do not appear bright in many of them.
We will, in any event, favor strict observance of appropriate statutory procedures in deciding the question of participation in the various agencies and will not support proposals aimed at by-passing competent organs or prejudging their decisions.

Ted Curran 3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 302, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VIII. Secret. An attached memorandum of transmittal from Marshall Wright to Kissinger is dated November 2.
  2. An Annex entitled “Chirep in the Specialized Agencies,” which provides a summary estimate of the situation in the agencies, is attached but not printed.
  3. Curran signed for Eliot above Eliot’s typed signature.