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

533. Subj: 25th GA—Measures To Improve Assembly’s Work Methods.

Department will recall that in document circulated last Dec. (A/7633), Canada proposed that 25th GA consider initiation of study GA workings and noted that one way pursue matter might be establish committee of three wise men to examine procedures and practices and report to 26th GA with any appropriate recommendations for improvements.
With reference this proposed initiative, USRep has received letter dated March 12 from Canadian PermRep indicating intention convene small informal group in near future to consider ideas for improving GA procedures, with broader consultations to be carried out later in an effort to secure general agreement on desirable modifications prior 25th GA. In addition Canada and US, small group is to include PermReps of Australia, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and UK.
In participating these discussions we propose take general position along following lines:
We regard 25th GA as highly appropriate occasion take action designed streamline procedures and practices in light extensive experience to date, with view maximizing GA’s effectiveness, economizing on time and minimizing duplication and overlapping.
We tend believe that adoption initiative this direction likely be facilitated if proposed by middle and small powers, although we have no strong views on this and would ourselves be prepared co-sponsor if friendlies consider this would be helpful.
While extensive consultations in advance upcoming GA which Canadians have in mind may reveal widespread agreement on a few specific reform measures which could be readily adopted in 25th session, it seems impracticable for 25th GA itself undertake general review of procedures and arrangements and come up with worthwhile and generally acceptable reforms. Consequently, we believe that focus of initiative at 25th GA should relate to establishment of machinery to undertake review and report to 26th GA in 1971.
We would favor having 25th GA establish working group as small as feasible but representative enough to offer prospect that group’s recommendations can command adequate support in 26th GA. Therefore we would doubt advisability of confining group to three wise men. More practicable size likely approximate that of General Committee (namely 25) appointment of which might best be left to GA President following informal consultations as appropriate. (We would assume membership would include Big Four.)
It would seem appropriate for President 25th GA (presumably Hambro of Norway) to serve as chairman Committee on Procedural Reforms.
Also with view promoting general acceptability of Committee’s conclusions, it would be appropriate for resolution this subject to provide that comments of governments should be solicited in advance Committee’s meetings and taken into account in its deliberations.
If Dept. agreeable proceeding along foregoing lines, it may be useful at some point brief 25th Anniversary Presidential Commission on exercise and invite commission members to submit informally to Dept, in time to be factored into US submission to GA working group, any specific ideas they may have for improving GA operations.
Mission would appreciate comments ASAP on foregoing and, re para 3(C) above, any ideas Dept. may have on specific reforms which could be enacted by 25th GA.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 GA. Limited Official Use.