295. Telegram 48681 From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization1 2


  • Enhanced East-West Cooperation on Environmental Problems


  • A. USNATO 1149; B. State 037255; C. State 027061
We are concerned by the apparent misunderstanding expressed by some PermReps at the March 25 NAC regarding our view of NATO’s role in enhancing the East-West aspects of the ECE’s environmental activities (Ref. A). We hope that details of specific issue that surfaced this misunderstanding have been clarified by NATO ECONADS meeting on ECE Plenary. To avoid further misunderstandings, we believe that following approach, including details on respective ECE and NATO roles, will helpfully complement efforts of US Reps in ECONADS this week.
We believe clarification US view must make three related points: first, great importance we continue to attach to CCMS; second, the necessity of strengthening [Page 2] those aspects of the ECE’s work in the environment that will broaden the base of East-West cooperation in this field; and third, our belief that both NATO and ECE Western Caucus in Geneva have distinct and useful consultative roles to play in support of this effort. Specifically, NATO PermReps may not be fully aware that ECE Western Caucus is in close touch with the ECE Executive Secretary and with Eastern European ECE reps, and has proved an effective means of coordinating Western positions for presentation to capitals.
We would propose to instruct Embassies in NATO capitals to convey detailed statement of our views to Foreign Ministries at appropriately high level, and to leave following text as aide memoire. We expect you would also wish to circulate copies of aide memoire to NATO Dels and to Secretary General Brosio. We also envisage asking missions, in their oral presentations, to lay particular stress upon paras 5 and 6 of aide memoire, which emphasize great importance we continue to attach [Page 3] to CCMS. Would appreciate your views on this proposed course of action soonest.

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At the meeting of the North Atlantic Council on March 25 there appeared to be some misunderstanding of the views of the United States as to the role of NATO in the environmental field and the importance of strengthening East-West cooperation in this field.
Ministers agreed in paragraph 12 of the North Atlantic Council Declaration issued at the meeting in Brussels on December 4 and 5, 1969, that “The benefit of the Alliance’s work in the field of human environment would be enhanced if it were to become the basis of broader cooperation. This could, and should, be an early objective, being one in which the Warsaw Pact Governments have indicated an interest…More intensive efforts in this field should be pursued either bilaterally, multilaterally, or in the framework of existing international bodies comprising interested countries.”
With a view to carrying into effect this expression of Ministerial intent, the United States has suggested to its NATO Allies that it would be advisable to strengthen the continuing work of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) on environmental matters. In particular we emphasized the desirability of enhancing the importance of the Conference on Environmental Problems which the ECE has scheduled in Prague in May of 1971. We suggested participation in the Conference itself by Ministers, or officials of equivalent rank, in order to help insure, within the various participating Governments, the degree of interest and attention that would be required for the success of the Conference and the specific cooperative efforts that should flow from it. We would hope the Allies could use the momentum of this high-level conference to orient further the ECE’s environmental programs toward decisions on tangible actions. We have suggested [Page 5] the ECE as the forum for enhanced East-West environmental cooperation because it seems preferable to build upon the useful environmental work of that Commission, and to work within an established organization with both Western and Eastern members rather than to attempt to convene a special international meeting for the purpose. This proposal was first broached in NATO on March 17, was discussed in the Council on March 25 and will be discussed there again on April 8.
Our basic rationale in offering this suggestion is that which is implicit in paragraph 12 of the December NATO Ministerial Declaration. All industrially advanced societies, regardless of their social systems, share increasingly urgent environmental problems, many of which cross national boundaries and can only be solved in an international context. Moreover, serious and practical joint endeavors of this kind could, in the long run, help to allay the suspicions and reduce the [Page 6] tensions that impede progress on resolution of fundamental East-West political issues.
At the same time, the continued success of the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS) is a matter of prime concern to the President, as he reiterated most recently in his Foreign Policy Report of February 18. Indeed, we believe the pioneering approach embodied by the pilot projects in CCMS can only enhance and complement work on similar problems in other international organizations. We do not believe that the added effort suggested in the ECE would detract from the work of the CCMS in any way. Moreover, we believe that the intimacy of our relationships with the NATO Allies, their weight in world affairs, the gravity of environmental problems that we and they face, and the extent of the material and human resources that we and they can bring to bear on these problems combine to assure the rising success of the CCMS. We are, [Page 7] encouraged by the progress registered to date within the CCMS and the interest that member nations have demonstrated in its activities. Our commitment to the success of CCMS will be strong and lasting, as is indicated by the extent of our support of its current endeavors.
It is our hope, then, that Allied Governments would agree upon the desirability of enhancing the environmental work of the ECE. An important element of this effort is raising the level of its 1971 conference, a goal we believe can and should be reached without interfering in any way with the quickening pace and growing importance of allied environmental cooperation within the CCMS. Environmental programs in the ECE context should be compatible with CCMS efforts, and we would envisage that as a rule the areas chosen for emphasis in East-West environmental cooperation would be those in which Alliance members have already developed the experience and the capacity for dealing with successfully. [Page 8] Moreover, East-West environmental cooperation should be the subject of regular and continuing consultation in NATO.
Specifically we believe that NATO should continue to consult on the basic political implications of this cooperation and on its relationship with CCMS and other Western efforts. At the same time, Western consultation with respect to the substantive aspects of international cooperative environmental efforts will also take place within the various multilateral organizations active in this field, including NATO and the ECE. In particular, we believe the procedural, tactical and technical problems that arise in the ECE context should continue to be discussed in the Western Caucus in Geneva, which includes Western nations not repeat not members of NATO and has proved itself to be effective in the past.
Prior to the United States’ suggestion outlined in paragraph 3 above, which so far has been discussed only with the NATO Allies, the ECE was seized of a [Page 9] proposal, originating with its Executive Secretary, to establish a Senior Environmental Advisors Group, whose organization and functions would roughly parallel those of its Senior Economic Advisors Group, established in 1957. This proposal was embodied in paragraph 15 of the Executive Secretary’s “Long-Term Programme of Work and the Organization of the Activities of the Commission” dated December 9, 1968, and in Annex 2, paragraph XVII (3) to that document. The April 1969 ECE Plenary session, in which all NATO member governments participated, endorsed the Executive Secretary’s proposals, including the proposal to establish a Senior Environmental Advisors Group.
The April 1969 ECE Plenary, however, did not formally establish the Senior Environmental Advisors Group, and the United States therefore tabled in the Western Caucus of the ECE on March 17, 1970, a draft resolution designed to accomplish this.
In discussions in the North Atlantic Council it has been suggested that the United States should have consulted in advance in NATO before taking this particular step. The United States’ view was that this proposal represented a useful procedural device but that, since it had already been approved in principle by all NATO Governments in the April 1969 ECE Plenary and did not have substantial political implications, prior consultation within the Western Caucus of the ECE was sufficient. In this connection, it is recalled that the NATO Committee of Economic Advisors meets before each Plenary session of the ECE to discuss its agenda. A meeting of the Economic Advisors was held on March 27, 1969, to discuss the April 1969 Plenary and provided an opportunity for members to register their views on the Executive Secretary’s Long-Term Programme, including the proposed establishment of a Senior Environmental [Page 11] Advisors Group.
The proposal for a Senior Advisor’s Group is consistent with but separate from the major United States proposal for enhancing the work of the ECE in the environmental area by raising the level of representation at the 1971 Environmental Conference and attempting to give the Commission’s programs a greater action orientation. This proposal, which flows directly from the NATO December Ministerial Declaration has, in our view, substantial political implications. Accordingly, our first step in advancing it was to consult our NATO Allies and to request their views.
We hope that the Government of ________________ will be able to register its support for this proposal during the discussions in the North Atlantic Council April 8 and thereafter. End text
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, SCI 41 NATO. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to the Mission to Geneva. Drafted by Floyd and Smith (IO) on March 28; cleared in EUR, SCI, IO, and the White House; and approved by Springsteen.
  2. The Department emphasized the importance of the Economic Commission for Europe’s Prague Conference on the Environment as a forum for East-West cooperation and as a means for orienting the ECE toward tangible action. It believed that this emphasis should not detract from the work of the CCMS.