316. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Maynes) to Acting Secretary of State Christopher1


  • Committee of the Whole Suspends Work Pending General Assembly Discussion of Mandate

After two days of intensive caucusing by the G–77, the Committee of the Whole met this afternoon to have the Chairman announce a decision to suspend the Committee’s work pending General Assembly discussion of its mandate. The G–77 decided that it wanted no further substantive discussion of issues until the question of the Committee’s decision-making authority is resolved.

Since Jamaica and others in the G–77 leadership came to the COW meeting with the purpose of forcing the issue of decision-making and fully prepared to pay the price of scuttling the Committee if their tactics didn’t work, there was an air of inevitability about the breakdown and little immediate bitterness expressed. Foreign Minister of Jamaica stressed the fact that “one country” was responsible for the failure to reach agreement, and further finger-pointing at the United States can be expected. However, a number of Western delegations supported the U.S. position with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

As a result of the impasse in the COW, the General Assembly debate on North/South issues will no doubt take on a confrontational [Page 1003] tone unless there are breakthroughs visible on the horizon on substantive issues under negotiation in other bodies.

We plan to make a major effort to get our position on the role of the COW across to developing countries prior to the opening of the General Assembly.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Richard N. Cooper, 1977–1980, Lot 81D134, Box 3, Memorandums—RNC—1978. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Robert Barry, Director of the Office of UN Political Affairs, Bureau of International Organization Affairs. Sent through Cooper.