334. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (McIntyre), the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Press), and the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter1


  • S&T Cooperation with Developing Countries (U)

Cy Vance has sent you his recommendations on the US position at the August 20–31 UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development.2 On two of his proposals there was agreement in the PRC: increased and coordinated aid to developing nations in energy development and, similarly, in agricultural research; both of these positions were agreed at the Tokyo Summit. There also is agreement that we should stress our creation of the Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (ISTC). (C)

There is disagreement on Cy’s proposal that the US delegation, led by Father Hesburgh, announce support for creation of a special fund of up to $250 million in the UN Development Program and commit a US contribution of up to $25 million annually in FY 1981 and 1982. This commitment would be subject to a favorable pre-conference canvass of key members of congressional appropriations committees and assurance that the fund’s program would not duplicate ISTC. (C)

Press, Owen and Tom Ehrlich believe that the industrial countries should support, in principle, a modest alternative to the developing countries’ demand for a $2–$4 billion UN S&T fund. They believe, however, that we should not make a commitment to a specific US contribution until we can see how the fall budgetary situation stacks up, what other donors are willing to do, and whether other countries will accept our condition that the UNDP fund not duplicate our ISTC program. They would notify other countries of the US position and express a hope that they will take the same view, but refrain from spending political capital in persuading our allies to support the fund. They recommend that, with your approval and, if necessary, after notifying the chairmen of the two relevant appropriations subcommittees, the US delegation be authorized to say:

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The US supports the proposal in principle, provided the Fund’s functions are defined in ways that do not duplicate ISTC programs. A US contribution of up to $25 million annually, or 20% of a two-year fund of up to $250 million, will be considered in US budget planning this fall for FY 1981 and 1982, but before making a firm commitment we must know more about the size of the whole US aid budget, other donors’ plans, and Congressional sentiment. (C)

OMB opposes both the Vance and the Press–OwenEhrlich proposals. OMB recommends that the US delegation be instructed to avoid creating expectations of US contributions to such a fund because there is a strong probability that it will be found this fall to be a marginal claimant on a tight aid budget for FY 1981. A modest UNDP fund, OMB believes, is unlikely to satisfy the developing countries, whose demands include mandatory technology transfer, control of transnational corporations, and a vastly larger S&T fund. Several other OECD countries have taken a hard line in preparatory meetings against significant new aid commitments at this conference, and we have higher priority aid issues on which we must press them. OMB also fears that agreement to a special fund at this conference will encourage similar proposals at subsequent special purpose meetings. (C)

OMB recommends that the US delegation be instructed to give no encouragement of US support of the proposed UNDP fund but, instead, stress our contributions in the formation of the ISTC, our present spending of $200 million annually in AID S&T activities, and your commitment to double our development aid budget by 1983. (C)

Father Hesburgh urges approval of the Vance proposal or at least the Press-Owen-Ehrlich statement. Otherwise, he says he and his delegation (including 21 Congressmen) will have an inadequate US position. Zablocki shares this view, but he would stop short of a flat commitment without assurance of support by the appropriations committees. Such assurance is difficult to obtain through consultations during the Congressional recess, which is one reason that OMB, Press, Owen, and Ehrlich do not favor a firm commitment to a specific US contribution now. (C)

Alternative A: Specific commitment (Vance)

Alternative B: No commitment (OMB)

Alternative C: Conditional support (Press, Owen, Ehrlich) (NSC, CL)3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 116, Scientific Matters: 1979. Confidential. Sent for action. Carter initialed “C” at the top of the page.
  2. See Document 333.
  3. Carter did not indicate approval of any of the three alternatives. In the margin next to the alternatives, he wrote: “Get Approp. Committee sentiment. My own first preference is to emphasize ISTC, but if Cong commits, I’ll go with Alt (C).” The UNCSTD was held in Vienna August 20–31. For the opening and closing remarks by Hesburgh, head of the U.S. delegation, and Carter’s message to the conference, see the Department of State Bulletin, November 1979, pp. 51–54.