74. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

3343. Subj: Comite 42 SWAPO in Comite.

Tothill (SA) informed MISOFF October 8 that he had picked up rumor that ASAF’s, particularly members of Council for Namibia, would be seeking to get observer status for SWAPO in Comite 4 this year. He interpreted various maneuvers by Egyptian Del re insuring separate discussion on Namibia as part of this ploy. Tothill asked Mis-Off what US planned to do and stated that he personally would not object to having SWAPO as observer, but felt that his government would request SA Del to withdraw from Comite 4 during discussion on Namibia.
In querying MISOFF re US attitude on possible observer status of SWAPO, Tothill pointed out that such a move could present serious precedent in which PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) would also seek observer status, as would members representing groups from Portuguese territories. MISOFF replied he unaware what US position would be on this matter, but pointed out that, in view UN legal situation re Namibia, it might be difficult to oppose observer status for SWAPO. MISOFF further pointed out, in response to Tothill query re other Namibian organizations, that OAU recognizes SWAPO and that by implication, if not in fact, UN would also recognize SWAPO as only Namibian group to deal with.
USUN would appreciate ASAP any comments Department may have re US attitude toward accepting SWAPO as observer to Comite 4.3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 UN. Confidential. Repeated to Pretoria.
  2. The Fourth, or Trusteeship, Committee of the General Assembly, was responsible for questions relating to non-self-governing territories.
  3. On October 14 the Department expressed its opposition to granting observer status to SWAPO. In addition to the reasons stated, it would be improper for the UN to endorse one group (especially a group representing a single tribe) in the absence of the exercise of the right of self-determination by the Namibian people. The Department had no objection to SWAPO representatives appearing before the Fourth Committee under the procedures usually followed by outside groups. (Telegram 188050 to USUN, October 14; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 UN)