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475. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

104340. Subject: Second Meeting of PrepCom of UN Special Session on Disarmament: Guidance for US Delegation.

1. Begin summary: This message provides guidance on key issues expected to arise at the second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Special UNGA on Disarmament. It supplements the position paper prepared for the first meeting2 as well as the general statement of US views contained in our response to the SYG’s request for views (State 90685).3 Specific guidance is set out below on (A) the agenda of the Special Session, (B) role of the Secretariat, (C) non-governmental organizations, and (D) scheduling of further PrepCom work and intersessional working arrangements (May through August). Additional guidance will be provided as needed. End summary.

2. Guidance for second meeting of PrepCom of UN Special Session on Disarmament:

I. Introduction:

The first meeting of the PrepCom was concerned largely with the election of a Chairman and Bureau, participation, rules of procedure, and the role of the Secretariat and other questions regarding support. We expect the second PrepCom meeting to devote its attention to:

A. Development of the agenda of the Special Session,

B. Role of the Secretariat,

C. Role of non-governmental organizations (NGOS),

D. Scheduling of further PrepCom work and intersessional working arrangements (May through August), and

E. Creation of subcommittees or working groups.

This paper provides general guidance for the US Delegation on these issues. Additional guidance will be provided as needed, taking into account the Delegation’s reporting and recommendations.

II. A General Approach and Objectives:

Our general appoach to the Special Session on Disarmament is that contained in the US letter of April 22, 1977, to the Secretary General, [Page 1171]and the Delegation should draw on it in its private and public comments. Our immediate objective at the second PrepCom meeting is to work for an agenda which will reflect a realistic set of objectives for the Session. It should be general in its phrasing, neither anticipating the negotiation of specific arms control measures nor prejudging the results of the Special Session.

As at the first PrepCom meeting, we will want to strengthen the cooperative atmosphere that has existed so far by making it clear that Non-Aligned moderation facilitates our ability to be forthcoming.

III. Consultations and Coordination:

We will wish to continue to pursue actively consultations with all major actors and to strengthen our interest in on-going processes of open dialogue.

The Delegation should maintain especially close relations with our allies on the PrepCom, as well as with the Western group in general. Consultative group meetings consisting of NATO members, Japan, Austria, as well as the special WEOG working group established during the first PrepCom should be continued.

Consultations with the Soviets will also be important in view of our common interests in such areas as SALT and the CCD; the Delegation should make clear to the Soviets that we share important interests which could be adversely affected by the Session and we hope to work together throughout the preparatory processes to protect such interests. We do not expect, however, to develop a fully coordinated approach with the Soviets in light of our different approaches to certain elements of the Session; e.g., the World Disarmament Conference issue.

In consultations with key Non-Aligned, neutral and developing countries, the Delegation should seek to encourage openness, moderation, cooperation, and avoidance of block positions and atmosphere of confrontation. We will seek to give concrete evidence of our willingness to be flexible and to carefully consider reasonable Non-Aligned concerns. As at the first Preparatory Committee meeting, the Delegation should keep in close touch with leading Non-Aligned and neutral Delegations, including those of Yugoslavia, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, and Egypt, as well as others that may emerge as major players.

IV. Issues:

(1.) Agenda of the Special Session: We have indicated in our submission to the SYG that the US will adopt a flexible attitude toward the agenda. Although we would prefer an agenda that simply sets out an organizational framework (e.g., general debate, adoption of final documents), we are prepared to go along with the general trend in favor of a more thematic agenda along the lines proposed in the Non-Aligned in[Page 1172]formation paper (USUN 10694 and 1290).5 In seeking to work out a generally acceptable formulation, the Delegation should attempt to:

A. Keep the number of items to a minimum and as broad as possible; each item (other than general debate) should constitute a framework for a final document or section of document (if there is only one).

B. Avoid inclusion of specific arms control topics as agenda items.

C. Avoid tendentious, prejudicial, or judgmental language (such as the reference in the Non-Aligned paper to “stagnation” in disarmament or possible Soviet efforts to have an item on the “need” for convening a WDC).

D. Avoid language that might create false expectations by appearing to promise more than is possible; specifically, we believe it would be inadvisable at this point to commit the Session to adoption of a “declaration of principles of disarmament.” While it may be possible to develop some generally acceptable “principles” (or more modest “guidelines”) we believe this prospect should be kept open for the present by referring to the basic “declaration” as a declaration on disarmament or a political declaration.

All of these considerations have a bearing on the handling of the particular and probably contentious question of a World Disarmament Conference (WDC). The Delegation should make clear to others that our position on WDC has not changed. We continue to consider the Special Session a separate and self-contained proposition unrelated to a WDC and we do not believe its status and significance should be undermined by efforts to make it subordinate to or a step toward a WDC. The Delegation should seek to discourage inclusion of a WDC on the agenda. If such inclusion appears inevitable, we are prepared as a tactical measure to accept mention of the WDC question on the agenda as one of the institutional and organizational issues to be discussed at the Session, on a par with the UN First Committee, the CCD, the UNDC, and the UN Secretariat. We would not, however, favor isolating WDC as a special topic for consideration.

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Accordingly, the Delegation should seek to maintain the phrasing used in the Non-Aligned paper as a suitable compromise—i.e., review of the role of the UN and of disarmament mechanisms, including the question of convening a WDC. The Delegation should seek further guidance if agreement on a formula of this kind cannot be reached.

(2) Role of the Secretariat:

Mission’s report (USUN 1290) suggests that there may not be significant pressure for substantive studies by Secretariat at this stage. We are prepared to consider any proposals that might be made, but would not favor any studies requiring additional expenditures.

We see no advantage in opposing a request that the Secretariat prepare a report organizing the views contained in responses to the SYG into general categories or “themes,” although, in view of the vastly different approaches taken by various governments, we doubt that any precise categorization will be possible or that the results will be of great value. A committee request for such a report should be as specific as possible, making clear that the document should not attempt to interpret views, assess trends, or draw conclusions.

We have no objection to the preparation of the following support documents by the Secretariat:

—Presentation of disarmament resolutions adopted by the General Assembly.

—A paper on existing principles and proposals for the conduct of disarmament negotiations.

—A description of existing structures and machinery for disarmament negotiations.

—A compilation of presentation in thematic form of responses to the secretary general’s request for country views on the SSOD . . . provided the costs of such services fall within currently budgeted Secretariat funds ($90,000).

(3) Non-Governmental Organizations: Assuming the statement on NGOs to be prepared by the Chairman and rapporteur accurately reflects the agreement reached at the March 31 Bureau Meeting (USUN 1027)6 the Delegation may support it as indicated (State 82519).7

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(4) Scheduling of further PrepCom work and intersessional working arrangements: we believe it will be important to maintain a pattern of informal consultations and discussions during the summer so that Delegations can gain a clearer understanding of the positions of different governments and identify areas of likely agreement and possible disagreement to facilitate greater understanding of the expectations of different governments and identification of likely areas of accord and disagreement. Since there appears to be a growing expectation that discussions at the 32nd UNGA will significantly shape the course of preparations during 1978 as well as the Special Session itself, it is essential that a groundwork of common understanding be laid before then.

We do not believe that elaborate arrangements need be made for a series of informal meetings during the summer having a specific mandate (e.g., to report to the PrepCom in September). But we would strongly favor action at the May meeting to make possible periodic informal meetings for exchanges of views on the proposed agenda items and other issues. The Delegation should work with others to develop support for such meetings and to take the necessary administrative steps to make them possible.

Should it become obvious that the second Preparatory Committee meeting will not go beyond the development of a skeletal agenda for the Session (e.g., along the lines proposed in the Non-Aligned “information” paper), we would be prepared to consider a 4th, and as yet unscheduled Preparatory Committee meeting to take place during the spring of 1978 to allow further consideration of a detailed agenda by the Preparatory Committee.

(5) Creation of subcommittees or working groups: the Delegation should not object to a decision in principle on the creation of subcommittees or working groups of the whole corresponding to the major elements of the agenda and to the anticipated components of the final document. Care should be taken to avoid creation of a WDC sub-committee or a sub-committee focused on the so-called disarmament-development link. Further guidance on these issues will be provided as needed in the light of developments at the PrepCom meeting and the Delegation’s recommendations. Our major procedural concern with respect to the establishment of sub-committees or working groups would be to avoid an excessive amount of simultaneous meetings. We would prefer that subcommittee meetings be held at different times during the preparatory phase. If there is a proposal to establish any sub-committee or working group with a mandate to continue its work on an intersessional basis, the Delegation should report the details and further guidance will be provided.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770160–0899. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Sent for information to USNATO and the Mission in Geneva. Drafted by David Thompson (ACDA/MA/IR) and David Macuk (IO/UNP); cleared by Flowerree, Lyall Breckon (PM/DCA), Gerald Helman (IO/UNP), Martin Goldstein (DOD/ISA), and Thomas Hirschfeld (S/P); and approved by Charles Maynes (IO).
  2. Not found.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 474.
  4. Telegram 1069 from USUN, April 8, reported that the 10-member Non-Aligned steering group had given the Mission a paper containing a potential agenda for the SSOD or a World Disarmament Conference. The agenda included four elements: “(A) review and appraisal of the present international situation in light of the stagnation in the field of disarmament, the continuing of the arms race and close interrelationship between disarmament, international peace and security and economic development; (B) adoption of a declaration of principles on disarmament; (C) adoption of a program of action on disarmament; (D) review of the role of the UN in disarmament, of disarmament mechanisms, including the question of convening a WDC.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770124–0635)
  5. Telegram 1290 from USUN, April 28, reported that “recent conversation with other Dels indicate general expectation that second meeting of Special Session PrepCom will not go much beyond development of skeletal agenda for the Session along lines proposed in Non-Aligned ‘information paper’.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770150–0251)
  6. Telegram 1027 from USUN, April 6, reported that the members of the SSOD PrepCom agreed that NGOs should be “welcomed but that they have no right to ‘participate’.” This reflected the “deep and general fear” of “NGO ‘agitation’ or ‘interference’ in Special Session,” as the Soviet bloc was “adamantly opposed to NGO involvement” while “many Western Delegations fear domestic reverberations if ‘their’ NGOs, often affiliated with opposition political parties, are allowed any status; and many Non-Aligned seem to have vague fears that NGOs will inject extraneous (or even relevant) issues embarrassing to them.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770119–0388)
  7. In telegram 82519 to USUN, April 13, the Department of State informed the UN that it found “no objection to NGO participation formula” proposed in telegram 1027. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770128–0116)