104. Information Memorandum From Assistant Secretary of State, International Organization Affairs (De Palma) and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco) to Secretary of State Rogers 1 2

Scenario for Handling Terrorism Item at the General Assembly

Our objective at the General Assembly will be to stimulate intensive international concern over the problem of international terrorism and to seek as much concrete action as we are able to obtain. We have in mind circulating a resolution which would (a) urge ratification of the three existing conventions dealing with offenses against civil aviation, (b) call for urgent ICAO drafting of and a plenipotentiary conference on an enforcement convention underpinning these conventions before the end of the year, (c) urge states not to aid or give sanctuary to terrorists but to take necessary measures to deter or punish them (d) ask that a plenipotentiary conference be held in early 1973 to consider adoption of a convention against terrorism, a draft of which we will have circulated, and (e) urge members to address the political problems which may provide a pretext for terrorist acts (draft text of resolution is at Tab A).

The International Law Commission has prepared draft articles of a convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against diplomatic agents. These draft articles are in the ILC report which we will want to have taken up as the first item in the Sixth Committee in order that the committee can act on the report outside the context of its debate on terrorism which is bound to create sharp [Page 2] controversy. We will ask that the Sixth Committee complete a convention based on these articles and that this Assembly adopt and open it for signature.

The Assembly will be initially seized with the item on terrorism when the General Committee meets September 21. We will seek to obtain a recommendation that the item be referred promptly to the Sixth Committee where we will push for urgent action. The Assembly debate on the General Committee report is limited and we would anticipate sufficient support to have the item inscribed and assigned as recommended by the General Committee on or about September 22.

Your speech on September 25 will launch the effort to stress the urgency of the problem and elicit public expressions of concern and support. Initial responses to your letter have, in general, been encouraging and we will be continuing in the corridors our efforts to have others speak out on the issue. We would plan for you to use the occasions of your lunches with the Latin Americans and African representatives, and selected bilateral discussions to urge your colleagues to include stress on the problem of terrorism in their addresses (see Tab B for more detailed suggestions), and to support General Assembly action along the lines of our draft resolution. The ten Foreign Ministers of the European Community have already issued a statement expressing their concern and their intent to concert their positions on the subject at the UN. We would expect further support from Latin American and possibly some Asian or African representatives. There seems little doubt that the subject will receive a full airing in the course of the general debate.

Our major parliamentary problem will be to prevent the formation of a solid African front against the item as an expression of solidarity with the Arabs and on the grounds that it will be [Page 3] used against national liberation movements. The item will also give rise to a far-ranging debate, covering the Middle East and possibly Vietnam, and the final resolution may well include some language distasteful to us. Efforts may be made to have a general debate on the item in plenary, prior to its allocation to a committee, in order to provide a larger forum for such a political debate.

Sixth Committee consideration of the item would probably take place in late October. There will be extended debate in the committee but we would hope to have a resolution reported out for vote in the General Assembly by early December.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23-8. Confidential. Drafted by Armitage and cleared by Fessenden, L, Ross, EA, Atherton, and ARA. Tabs A and B are attached but not published.
  2. De Palma and Sisco briefed Rogers on the Department’s scenario for handling the terrorism item at the UN General Assembly.