112. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Terrorism Items in the United Nations General Assembly

Our efforts to obtain urgent action on one of the items related to terrorism at the United Nations General Assembly received a setback October 20. The First Committee voted (54-40 (US) with 20 abstentions) a Czechoslovak-sponsored amendment which would have draft articles on the protection of diplomats referred to the 28th (1973) Assembly “with a view to the final elaboration of such a Convention by the General Assembly.” There is some slight consolation in a Soviet expression of readiness to work with us to improve the resolution in the plenary by placing added emphasis on the need to conclude a convention at the 28th session.

We had been pressing a Canadian draft which would have convened a plenipotentiary conference in early 1973 to adopt a convention. Arab opponents of any action on terrorism issues had pushed two resolutions (Mauritania and Mexico) which would have buried the issue.

The key element in our setback was the inability of the United States and co-sponsors of the Canadian resolution to achieve any significant support among the Africans and Asians. A “compromise” amendment which would have called for a plenipotentiary conference in August was put forward by the Afghans and the Yugoslavs. In spite of our backing, this effort fell apart: when supporters of the Mauritania and Mexican amendments withdrew their amendments, threw their weight behind the Czechoslovak amendment, and induced the Yugoslavs and, to a lesser extent, the Afghans not to press their “compromise.”

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We will now concentrate our efforts on mustering support for a resolution which would advance the prospects of a convention on terrorism. we have concluded that the optimum tactic is to seek approval of a working group which would work on the text of a draft convention for action by the 28th (1973) Assembly and agree to a second working group which would meet the Arab insistence that the underlying causes of terrorism be “studied.”

Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
Executive Secretary
  1. Source: National Archives. RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23-8. Confidential. Drafted by Armitage and cleared by De Palma, Bettauer, and Meyer. M.J. Habil signed for Eliot.
  2. The Department reported on a setback to U.S.-supported terrorism items at the UN General Assembly.