94. Memorandum From the Representative to the United Nations (Yost) to President Nixon 1

With the closing of the 25th General Assembly, the number of problems immediately facing the United Nations and the United States Mission has declined. Nevertheless in the month ahead there may be significant developments on the Middle East, Chinese representation, seabeds, peacekeeping, UNDP, ECOSOC, Second Development Decade and budgetary matters. Some stir may be created by the United States decision to withdraw from the Committee of 24 on Colonialism. The problem of the security of United Nations Missions in New York, and particularly of the Soviet establishments here, will undoubtedly become more serious in the months to come.

1. Security of UN Missions in New York

The most serious aspect of the New York security problem concerns the Soviet Mission and other establishments (Amtorg, Aeroflot, Intourist) here. The problem was aggravated during the holiday season by protests over the Leningrad trials. Almost daily violent incidents perpetrated by the militant Jewish Defense League are already becoming a serious aggravation in US-USSR relations, and there have been threats of assassinations or kidnappings which if carried out could have disastrous effects. We have been in constant contact with New York City authorities and are studying additional preventive measures that can be taken, such as a court injunction against the Jewish Defense League.

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2. Middle East

With the reactivation of the Jarring talks, we may expect increased pressure from the USSR supported by France and the UK for Four Power preparation of guidelines for a settlement. Prime Minister Meir, in her December 29 speech to the Knesset, reiterated the strong Israeli opposition to increased activity by the Four as unwarranted interference in the negotiations under Jarring. In the Four Power talks on December 9 and December 21, I repeated the United States position that while the Four, collectively or individually, would be able to play a more useful role in assisting Jarring and the parties once talks were resumed, the preparation by the Four of a detailed blueprint for peace would be counterproductive. I also noted our view that the general subject of guarantees for a peaceful settlement might well be usefully discussed by the Four, after talks have resumed, although our Government has not yet taken a final decision on the question.

The Secretary General is required to report to the Security Council on the progress of the Jarring Mission by January 5. We have urged both U Thant and Jarring to avoid criticism of Israel’s delay in returning to the Jarring talks in the report. We hope that it will be possible to avoid a meeting of the Security Council to discuss the report which can be circulated as a Council document. If the Arabs insist that the Council meet, we hope the discussion can be kept pro forma in nature. We would point out that discussion of substance could endanger Jarring’s efforts.

3. Chinese Representation

There may be a move to challenge the Chinese credentials at the first Security Council meeting of 1971, predicated on the fact that the General Assembly has for the first time mustered a simple majority in favor of admission of Peking and expulsion of Taiwan. We are consulting on tactics with potential supporters on the Council.

During January, consultations on tactics concerning the Chinese representation item at the next General Assembly will intensify. Those who have supported the United States position on China in the past will be pressing us for a decision on how to proceed in 1971.

4. Peacekeeping

We continue to believe that one of the most important tasks before the United Nations is the strengthening of the organization’s capabilities in the field of peacekeeping. Six months of painstaking bilateral negotiations on this subject with the Soviet Mission appeared to have narrowed the gap substantially; in late June we gave the Soviets a Working Paper, reflecting the negotiations, which offered a practical modus operandi for the key questions of establishment and control of UN peacekeeping operations. Despite promises of a detailed and [Page 169]considered reply, none has been received to date. Although the General Assembly took no specific action at this session, a large number of delegations stressed the urgent need for agreement on measures to strengthen United Nations peacekeeping and the resolution adopted reflected this view; consequently, the Soviets are under pressure to move forward. We will press bilaterally for their reaction to our June proposals.

5. Withdrawal from Committee of 24

This Committee of 24 members was established for the purpose of implementing a so-called “Declaration” on the granting of independence to colonial peoples which the General Assembly adopted in 1960. For some time now the United States has felt that the Committee of 24 has produced absolutely no positive results, multiplies points of friction between the United States and the Afro-Asian group and generally detracts from the effectiveness and credibility of the United Nations in the entire colonial area. This year the Committee again acted irresponsibly, adopting an “action program” condoning violence in order to achieve independence from colonial rule and riding roughshod over proposals and amendments offered by the United States and other Western members of the Committee. Australia and Italy have already withdrawn from the Committee; Norway resigned after two years. The United States is going to withdraw in January, and the United Kingdom may decide to follow suit.

Our move will no doubt give rise to charges that we have changed our policy towards Africa, but those familiar with the United Nations understand that the irresponsible actions of the Committee are bringing about its collapse. We shall take pains both at the United Nations and in African capitals to seek similar understanding by the Governments concerned.

6. Law of the Sea and Seabeds

In a major advance towards the objectives set by you in May, the General Assembly adopted resolutions in its waning hours setting forth principles to govern exploitation of the seabeds beyond national jurisdiction and convening a conference on Law of the Sea in 1973. Preparatory work for the conference begins in March 1971 in Geneva and January and February will be occupied with intensive consultations and planning looking towards this preparatory conference.

7. United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

The “consensus” adopted by the Governing Council of the UNDP as the basis for UNDP’s reorganization and shift to country programming, was adopted by the General Assembly last month. Now the reorganization must be carried out and this will require our continuing [Page 170]attention for many months. Moreover, there are a number of issues from Sir Robert Jackson’s Capacity Study related to reorganization which have not yet been discussed by governments—these will be taken up at the session of the Governing Council in January.

The most troublesome, delicate and potentially disrupting aspect of UNDP reorganization, however, continues to be the question of Mr. Paul Hoffman’s successor. The Secretary General, in the course of the General Assembly, extended Mr. Hoffman’s appointment for an additional year through December 31, 1971. In our letter to the Secretary General agreeing with his decision to extend the Hoffman appointment, we indicated that we would want his successor to be an American and that we would shortly be submitting names for consideration.

It now appears that Mr. Hoffman has construed our position as making him a “lame duck” and he does not seem willing to acknowledge that it is necessary for the United States Government to seek a successor now in order to insure that we have a first rate candidate, and to reassure those countries who increasingly fear that we are not taking the question of succession with the seriousness it deserves. Additional pressure is exerted on the issue of succession by the increasing disposition of many important contributors to conclude that meaningful reorganization of UNDP is no longer possible with the present Administrator and his senior colleagues.

8. Economic and Social Council and the Second Development Decade

The continuing and fundamental issue before the Economic and Social Council is the question of the respective roles of the Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in the United Nations development system and, extended, the international development system—in other words, which of these organizations shall have the primary task of overall coordination and synthesis of development efforts within the United Nations system and, eventually, outside of the United Nations system as well.

The immediate task before us is the interest in reorganizing the Economic and Social Council to make it more generally acceptable to both developed countries and developing countries, and the development of a review and appraisal system for the Second Development Decade as a vehicle for surveillance of development progress as well as rationalizing the organization of international development efforts. Informal discussions concerning reorganization of the Economic and Social Council have already been started and we will participate in these continuing discussions with deep interest. There is a close relationship, not widely understood or appreciated, between these discussions and review and appraisal, since we feel strongly that the Economic and Social Council should have the principal responsibility for [Page 171]this function. Pursuant to a General Assembly resolution, the Secretary General is required to submit a report to the Economic and Social Council this summer outlining the details of a system of overall appraisal.

Decisions as to how the Secretary General will undertake this report will have to be made in the course of the next month. Many feel that the quality and substance of this report, or its lack thereof—along with the role of the Economic and Social Council—will have an irrevocable impact on multilateral assistance and the international development system, and is in a sense a watershed for the Economic and Social Council and multilateralism.

9. United Nations Administrative and Budgetary Problems

United Nations Deficit Problem. At my urging, the Secretary General told the General Assembly at its closing Plenary session that he would devote special and priority attention during the coming year to finding a solution to the United Nations financial deficit problem, and that he had enlisted the good offices of outgoing Assembly President Edvard Hambro (Norway) to assist in this effort.
United Nations Headquarters Expansion in New York. The General Assembly voted to appropriate two million dollars as the first installment of a total of twenty-five million dollars which the United Nations has decided to appropriate over a ten year period towards the eighty million dollar cost of constructing an extension to the Headquarters building complex in New York. This money cannot be spent unless and until there is favorable congressional action to appropriate twenty million dollars in the form of a Federal grant towards the construction costs. After authorization by both Houses of Congress the matter is now before the Appropriations Committee. (The balance of the construction costs are assured from New York City, the United Nations Development Program, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.) It is essential that construction is underway at an early date to ensure that the rise in the cost of labor and materials do not exceed the total authorized for construction.
Professional Salary Scales of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies. The General Assembly approved, over United States opposition, an 8% professional salary increase for the United Nations, effective July 1, 1971. (The United States delegation was instrumental in deferring the effective date of the increase from January 1 to July 1, with a resulting saving of 4.4 million dollars in 1971. However, we failed to obtain a majority for our proposal to limit the increase to 5%.) The Assembly also decided to establish an Expert Committee representing 11 member states, including the United States, to review the United Nations salary system, and decided additionally that there would be no further increase in base professional salary scales until the review had been completed and its results approved by the General Assembly.
United Nations Budget. Experience during the past few years has demonstrated that the United States must keep constant pressure on the Secretary General during the course of each year to ensure that the annual United Nations budgets are as low as possible, consistent with our policy objectives. It was primarily as a result of my approaches during the spring and summer of 1970 that the Secretary General announced in October, 1970 that he intended to reduce the anticipated budget requirements for 1971, then estimated at two-hundred million dollars, by an amount of about seven million dollars, primarily by “freezing” the Manning Table for 1971 at the 1970 level.

Charles W. Yost
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 300, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VI. Secret.