8. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • U.S. Assurance of Contribution toward UN Headquarters Building

In the light of your decision in September not to seek specific funding authority for a U.S. contribution at that time toward construction of an additional UN Headquarters building, our Delegation has been reviewing its preparations for handling the Headquarters issue when it comes before the General Assembly about November 15. To help keep the concentration of UN activities in the United States, the Delegation has recommended that it be authorized to state in the General Assembly debate that the U.S. Government strongly supports construction of the proposed additional UN Headquarters building and will request Congressional authorization and an appropriation in its fiscal year 1971 budget for a U.S. contribution not to exceed $20 million toward the construction of this building. (This is a $5 million increase over the previous figure, an increase which has resulted from an up-to-date architectural and engineering survey of the contemplated construction and a consequent total cost estimate by United Nations officials of $75–$80 million for the project.)

The Delegation reports that an assurance of this nature is the minimum necessary to counter growing pressures of a number of members, including the Soviet bloc, France and the Arab states, to shift the focus of UN activities from New York to Geneva or some other European location and that such an assurance would hopefully enable the UN Secretary General to obtain from this session of the General Assembly approval for the construction and financing of the new building, subject only to agreement on an acceptable financing package.2

I concur in this recommendation. I would point out that in any event no U.S. funds would need to be turned over to the United Nations for about 18 months, when hopefully the risk of inflationary [Page 12]pressures will have been contained. I concur in the judgment of the Delegation that failure to be able to give such an assurance at this session would run the grave risk of being unable to check the movement of the United Nations away from New York at the expense of U.S. prestige and influence in the organization, as well as an appreciable loss of revenue.

I therefore recommend strongly that you authorize an assurance related to the fiscal year 1971 budget request.

Arrangements would of course be made to inform selected Congressional leaders before the assurance would be given so that Congress would not feel that its power of decision had been pre-empted.

WPM
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, UN 10–4. Confidential. Drafted by Ward P. Allen and Richard V. Hennes (IO) on November 1, and cleared by Ambassador Horace G. Torbert, Jr. (H), Assistant Secretary Frank G. Meyer, Louis Frechtling, Stephen M. Boyd, and Roberts. At the top of the page is the typewritten note: “Approved by memo of 11/25/69 from Mr. Watts to Mr. Eliot, recd 11/27,” and a handwritten note reading: “IO informed 11/28.”
  2. The views of the delegation were summarized in a November 3 memorandum to Rogers from Assistant Secretary De Palma. (Ibid.)