354. Circular Airgram CA-4850 From the Department of State to Multiple Posts1 2


  • 24th United Nations General Assembly


  • (A) CA 10681, September 6, 1968;
  • (B) CA 4110, July 22, 1969

The twenty-fourth Regular session of the Unlfed Nations General Assembly is scheduled to convene in New York this year on Tuesday, September 16. As usual, a large number of Foreign Ministers and some heads of state are expected to attend the opening and the early days of the session devoted to General Debate. Guidance on reporting planned attendance by high-ranking officials is contained in Ref. B.

As in the past, action addressee posts are requested informally to exchange views on the forthcoming UN General Assembly with foreign ministry officials before the departure of host government’s UN delegation. The purpose of these discussions is to make known, and where appropriate to request host government support for, the US position on the major issues and to determine positions and likely initiatives of the host government. (USUN should be included as an info addressee on all reports in response to this airgram.) This airgram deals with political and legal issues. A separate message will cover economic, social and budgetary questions. Supplementary guidance and instructions on specific issues will be provided in subsequent messages as necessary.

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[Omitted here is material unrelated to seabeds.]

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The General Assembly will receive the Report of the 42-member Seabeds Committee created by the 23rd General Assembly. The Assembly will review the work of the Committee, including its effort to reach agreement on principles governing the exploration and exploitation of the deep seabed in the area beyond national jurisdiction and the views within the Seabeds Committee on the nature of an international regime for this area. The Assembly will also discuss efforts toward international cooperation in oceanographic research and safeguards against marine pollution.

We continue to urge agreement on a set of principles which would generally follow the substance of those we first presented in the Ad Hoc Seabeds Committee in New York in June 1968 and those we supported at the Ad Hoc Committee meeting in Rio in August 1968.

In the Assembly we plan to point out the need for establishment of an internationally agreed precise boundary for the area beyond national jurisdiction and to make clear that in the meantime exploitation should continue. We also plan to describe our view that some kind of international machinery as a part of an international regime for the deep seabeds might be desirable, including the possibility of an international registry operating on the basis of agreed criteria.

We recognize that the major issues which underlie discussions of the seabeds, including particularly the location of the boundary and the nature of the international regime, will not be solved overnight, but we believe it is important that these issues be resolved by international agreement as soon as possible. We want to keep the Seabeds Committee as the central point of focus for substantive debate and to avoid a situation where the Assembly might itself attempt to work out substantive agreements on the ground that the Committee had been unable to cope with its task. The Seabeds Committee has already developed a considerable degree of expertise and is the forum best suited for serious discussions on-seabeds.

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[Omitted here is material unrelated to seabeds.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, UNGA-3. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by the IO/UNP staff and approved by Greene. The published section of the enclosure is enclosure 5 and is classified as Limited Official Use. Sent to all posts except the following to which it was repeated for information: Algiers, Bern, Bonn, Bucharest, Budapest, Khartoum, Moscow, Prague, Saigon, Seoul, Sofia, Warsaw, USINT Cairo, USUN, USOECD Paris, US NATO, the mission at Geneva, and USEC Brussels. The remainder of the airgram, which deals with General Assembly issues unrelated to Law of the Sea negotiations, is not published.
  2. The Department requested that the addressed posts discuss major issues with members of the host governments’ delegations to the forthcoming 24th UN General Assembly meeting. The published section of the enclosure deals with seabeds issues.