57. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

228. Subj: UN Comite of 24 Chairmanship. Ref: Caracas 720.2

Opening meeting of Comite of 24’s 1970 session postponed to Feb 16 at request of Afro-Asian majority of Comite. Reason for delay is African group’s inability to decide on chairmanship of Comite during coming session, and its desire avoid contested election. A number of African and Asian members of Comite, perhaps abetted by Soviets [Page 92] and their Bulgarian and Polish cohorts, reportedly decided during informal discussions and caucuses this past week to renege on understanding they had previously reached with Venezuela representative on Comite, Amb Nava Carillo. Alleged reasons for change in position as follows: 1) During past nine years since its establishment, Comite has been chaired by a permanent representative (Nava is Venezuela Deputy PermRep); 2) All previous chairmen have been Africans, and some of this group probably consider the Comite of 24 chairmanship theirs by “right”; 3) 1970 will mark 10th anniversary of Comite (and 25th of UN) with greater than usual attendance of African Chiefs of State at 25th GA; 4) Coming Comite session will have to consider plans for future, and will therefore take on greater significance than previous sessions. For these reasons, Africans alleged to believe that giving chairmanship to any other than African PermRep would represent downgrading of Comite.
Rumors emanating from Afro-Asian caucuses indicate some confusion and divisions. However there is persistent story that Africans seeking to promote candidacy of Sierra Leone despite fact that Sierra Leone currently serving on Security Council, and, with small permanent mission, would have difficulty effectively chairing Comite.
Venezuelan candidate contacted MISOFF to say he was aware of Afro-Asian maneuvers but that LA group had decided to maintain his candidacy. Ecuador was inscribed at inaugural meeting to propose Venezuela, and Honduras agreed to second. Nava Carillo said that LA group refused to accept African argument that Comite of 24 was African preserve. Mission recommends that in event of contested election we cast our vote for Venezuela. But we should not lobby for Nava Carillo. Such efforts likely to be counter-productive rather than helpful in view of composition of Comite.3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 UN. Limited Official Use; Priority. Repeated to Caracas.
  2. In telegram 720, February 12, the Embassy in Caracas reported that the Venezuelan Government sought U.S. support for Nava Carillo’s candidacy for chairman of the Committee. (Ibid.)
  3. On March 5 Nava Carillo withdrew his candidacy after learning that the Asian and African members of the Committee of 24 had decided to support Nicol of Sierra Leone as chairman. (Telegram 346 from USUN, March 5; ibid.)