260. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

376. Subject: (U) UN Population Commission: Summary of Proceedings. Ref: A. USUN 365, B. USUN 314, C. USUN 270.2

1. (LOU) Entire text.

2. Twenty-first session of the twenty-seven member UN Population Commission ended today with achievement of U.S. objectives and passage of substantive resolution on strengthening actions concerned with fulfillment of the World Population Plan of Action (introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by France, Greece, Indonesia, Norway, and Thailand), and on convening a World Population Conference in 1984 (introduced by Egypt and co-sponsored by France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Zaire). A dominant theme of eight-day meeting was surprisingly strong and broadly based LDC emphasis on adverse effects of high fertility on economic and social development and need for actions to reduce excessive population growth; unexpectedly, a Nigerian Cabinet Minister was among the most eloquent and powerful speakers on these lines. In contrast, the Soviet Union, supported by the Ukraine and, less prominently by Hungary, made persistent efforts to remove reference to excessive population growth and fertility in commission reports and resolutions. In the end, the Soviet Union was, to its evident embarassment, isolated with the Ukraine (Hungary not being present) in being formally recorded as not joining in the Commission’s consensus on the two substantive resolutions.

3. As reported in ref. A, the resolution on the International Population Conference, together with the accompanying Commission report to ECOSOC, contained all U.S. points regarding magnitude and [Page 723]urgency of population problem at national, regional, and global levels, emphasis on limitation of conference to selected population issues of highest priority, necessity for minimizing cost of conference, and role for UNFPA in conference. Resolution, as approved today, is virtually identical to text in ref. A, with omission of operative para. 5 at U.S. suggestion, in accordance with U.S. position on similar clauses from other UN subsidiary bodies.3 U.S. Representative (Benedick) delivered formal statement noting that U.S. support is contingent with the understandings relating to economizing the cost of the conference and the major focus on problems of population growth. He stressed that USG will monitor carefully all preparations for this conference in light of these criteria.

4. Resolution concerning strengthening of actions in fulfillment of the World Population Plan of Action, introduced at U.S. initiative, stressed (over Soviet objections) that the population factor is a central element to any strategy designed to improve quality of life. Resolution urged that relevant international conferences and international instruments give full consideration to population factors, and called upon WHO, FAO, World Bank, etc., to integrate population more fully into their work programs and deliberations. A new element in this resolution was an operative paragraph urging international organizations, including UNFPA and WHO, and national governments to give high priority to research on human reproduction and the development of more acceptable, safer, and more effective means of fertility regulation; this clause reinforces the mandate of UNFPA in this important, and relatively neglected, area.

5. The USSR Delegation, evidently acting on rigid instructions, clearly swam against the mainstream of the Commission. This was epitomized in a heavy-handed attempt this morning to block Commission consideration of the two substantive resolutions. A new spokesman replaced the Soviet and Ukraine demographer representatives and argued that the Commission had violated Rule 52 requiring 24-hour advance notice in submission of resolution texts. Chairman (W. Weerasooria, Sri Lanka), supported by the Secretary (Agbasyo, Nigeria, ECOSOC), reminded Soviets that Rule 52 had been suspended earlier by the Commission without debate. This had evidently slipped by the Soviets who, supported by the Ukraine and Hungary, continued to insist that they could not discuss the resolutions. Following interventions by Egypt, Netherlands, U.S., Norway, and Indonesia, the chairman ruled against USSR point of order. USSR explicitly avoided appeal of this ruling which would have resulted in formal vote. In his final [Page 724]statement this evening, the Soviet Representative stated that the resolutions were “imposed upon” the Commission, a charge which brought strong reactions from both the Chairman and the Indian Representative.

6. Detailed report follows septel.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810054–0597. Limited Official Use; Priority. Sent for information to USUN Geneva.
  2. In telegram 365 from New York, February 4, USUN outlined a proposed resolution to hold an International Population Conference in 1984, stating that it contained key U.S. points. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810052–0457) In telegram 314 from New York, January 31, USUN reported that U.S. statements in favor of the conference had been received positively by foreign delegations. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810047–0120) In telegram 270 from New York, January 29, USUN transmitted the text of a statement made by Benedick. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810047–0246)
  3. Operative paragraph 5 discussed the financing of the conference.
  4. In telegram 388 from New York, February 5, USUN transmitted a report on the activities of the Population Commission. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D810060–1041)