291. Action Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) to Secretary of State Vance 1


  • United Nations General Assembly Address

Issue for Decision

Which theme would be most appropriate for the US statement to the 32nd General Assembly, to be delivered by you or the President.2


We have two general themes in mind. Whichever is chosen, however, an important part of the statement should be a discussion of this Administration’s attitude and intentions toward the UN, both the major organs and the agencies comprising the whole system. We should probably be in a position to state a judgment on the various proposals for restructuring the UN, now in preparatory discussion; this will also provide us with an authoritative occasion to state our arguments about our decision on the ILO 3 and its relationship to our overall attitude toward UN agencies. Our continuing human rights efforts will also be featured, whichever way the rest of the speech turns.

Building on this basis, we could then focus the address on international and US peacemaking efforts, the resolution of regional conflicts, conveying the foreign policy activism of the Carter Administration. The Middle East and southern Africa will be major items on the GA [Page 968] agenda, and it would be appropriate for the US to explain its policies before the Assembly as a whole. Developments between now and September could make it particularly important that these two regional issues be addressed in some depth. Cyprus is another GA perennial on which we might have some interesting things to say by September or October. By making these matters the centerpiece of our presentation, we would seem to be placing emphasis on the political/security role of the UN, rather than the economic and North-South function which we believe is often more effectively dealt with in discrete, functional forums.

Alternatively, we could go straight to the global issues, such as food, population, energy and basic human needs, which would signal our interest in pursuing North-South interdependence issues within the General Assembly, as well as the functional forums. We might be ready to come up with some specific initiatives on global issues; depending on the degree of specificity, we might be able to divert General Assembly energies away from the old New International Economic Order issues. We could give special pushes to the forthcoming UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development, as well as other development issues involved in planning the new international development strategy which will be one important theme of this GA.

We should begin comparing notes with the NSC staff, as the question of President Carter’s participation at the General Assembly could also influence the type of speech to be delivered.


Stress international peacemaking.

Stress global issues.

Prepare tentative outlines on both themes, for discussion with the NSC staff.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, Box 2, TL 7/16–31/77. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Grose; concurred in by Frank and Helman (IO). Grose initialed for both Frank and Helman. Wisner also initialed the memorandum.
  2. See Document 79.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 63.
  4. Christopher placed a check mark on the approval line beneath each of the three options. Background materials related to the President’s participation at the United Nations are in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Trip File, Box 3, President, United Nations, 10/4–5/77: Briefing Book.