101. Telegram 169556 From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations 1 2


  • Handling of Terrorism in UNGA


  • USUN 3167 and 3256
Dept has not reached final position on content of res we hope to emerge from UNGA debate on terrorism but in general we plan for res to focus on as concrete steps as are feasible, such as urging ratification of three conventions on civil aviation safety, cooperation in drafting of enforcement convention underpinning those conventions, calling for states not to encourage or give sanctuary to terrorists but to take necessary measures to deter or punish them. We have given extensive consideration to prospect of convention on terrorism but have not yet reached firm conclusion on how this aspect should be handled.
We fully share SYG’s desire to take advantage of present international mood deploring recent terrorist acts. We believe that we must do all possible to build momentum within Assembly to translate this general attitude into specific desirable actions. In our view best way to stimulate delegates to a will to act is to air problem in all its aspects in course of general debate and to obtain maximum attention to subject at very opening of UNGA. Secretary’s speech will be directed toward this purpose and as you know we are urging other Foreign Ministers [Page 2] and representatives to highlight problem of terrorism and call for Assembly action to cope with it. Initial indications are that number of other speakers in general debate will be doing so. Following this full airing in general debate we see advantage in General Committee having referred item directly to Sixth Committee for action. We would not see advantage in having plenary take up substance of issue prior to committee consideration, as lengthy debate in that forum would be most likely to delay consideration of substance and do little if anything not accomplished in general debate to improve chance of obtaining optimum resolution.
In addition we wish to have Sixth Committee act as expeditiously as possible on report of ILC which contains ILC draft articles on protection of diplomats, which scheduled to be first item on agenda. These articles are in relatively good shape and constitute significant substantive step forward in measures against broad problem of terrorism. However, we do not wish two items to be intermingled as ILC report stands much better chance of quick positive action if explicit connection between two issues is avoided. We hope that draft articles on protection of diplomats will lead to earliest possible convention and hope for GA resolution which would convene a conference prior to 28th UNGA with states requested to submit their written observations on draft articles prior to conference. USUN is requested to inquire of Secretariat if dates are available for scheduling three week conference. An early WEO meeting to consider best tactics on this item would seem desirable.
You should seek earliest opportunity to convey above views to SYG stressing our conviction that allocation of item on terrorism to plenary prior to Sixth Committee consideration would not be advantageous and urging tactical approach which would get item referred promptly to Sixth Committee for its action on resolution. You should assure SYG we are making every effort to induce extensive attention to this item in general debate speeches of others.

Info: [Page 3] Ottawa, Paris, Reykjavik, Rome, NATO, The Hague, Stockholm, Bern, Wellington, Canberra, Tokyo

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23-8. Confidential; Routine. Repeated to 21 additional posts. Drafted by Armitage, and cleared by De Palma, Stevenson, Atherton, and Sisco.
  2. The Department discussed its strategy on handling terrorism issues at the UN General Assembly.