January 1972 Home   Newsletters

February 1972

March 1972

General Meeting - "The Problems of Renting in Hawaii"
February Calendar
Announcements
Congress Study II
Second Chance (Susan Martin)
Background Information Planning Study #1 (Diane Hastert)
Community Announcements
Membership Memo (Fran Burgess)
Convention 1972
Who Votes in Hawaii
Highlights of the 26th General Assembly Session of the UN
Eight Member LWV Delegation to Japan
Bills of Major Interest to the League: 1971 and 1972
League Action Service

This foreign policy wrap-up on the United Nations was written by the National office of the League. It will bring you up to date on what is happening at the U.N. so please read for your own edification. Clip and save for future reference.

Highlights of the 26th General Assembly Session of the UN

The cliff-hanging, last minute selection of a new Secretary-General was typical of the event-packed, crisis laden 26th General Assembly session. It focused more attention on the UN than had any other session in years. But, when the General Assembly adjourned on December 22nd, it had neither made decisions nor created an atmosphere promising significant changes in the future operations and capabilities of the world organization.

Members of the delegation of the People's Republic of China, erected by intense curiosity end en emotional welcome when they took their seats in the Plenary Hall on November 15th, were an accepted and familiar fact by December 22nd. The dramatic vote of October 25th and the 20-year struggle for representation which preceded it (sec the _attest NATIONAL VOTER) were almost forgotten by most members of the UN if not by members of the U.S. Congress and public, among whom memory of the U.S. "defeat" lingers as a potential rationale for curtailing U.S. support for the UN, (Following the October 25th vote, editorial comment ran 7 to 1 and mail to Senators ran 4 to 1 against the UN; and Gallup Pell figures show .d UN prestige in the U.S. at an all-time low).

The Chinese presence his added a new axis to power relationships at the UN. Limiting their participation primarily to political issues and a few committees, however, the Chinese have presented few surprises in their speeches and actions, other than the degree of bitterness expressed in, their political and ideological debates with the Soviet Union, Their bid for third-world leadership, attacks on super-power dominance, support of liberation movements and opposition to U.S. policies in southeast Asia had been anticipated. The distant hope that the entry of Chins_ would revitalize end reform the UN was not fulfilled.

The war between India and Pakistan and the failure of the Security Council to prevent or call s_ halt to it provided a tragic illustration of the UN's organizational inability to supersede big power interests in dealing with the issues of war and peace. In spite of earlier efforts by the Secretary-General to bring India and Pakistan. to sock a peaceful solution to their differences through the UN, their opposition to outside "interference," compounded by Russian and Chinese stakes in events on the subcontinent, restricted the role of the UN to provision of humanitarian relief until after the formal declaration of war. Even then the Security Council, blocked by Soviet vetoes, was unable to call for a ceasefire and withdrawal until after Pakistan's capitulation. Confronted by Council disagreement, the General Assembly voted 104-11 for a ceasefire resolution; however, this overwhelming vote merely provided additional evidence of the impotence of UN organs to make or keep the peace when national interests of one or more of the five permanent powers are involved.

Selection of a now Secretary-General was not the cause for another impasse between big powers, as had been feared; and, after several Council meetings, a candidate was selected who aroused some reservations but no serious objections. Kurt Waldheim of Austria succeeded U Thant and began serving his five-year tern as Secretary-General on. January first.

Secretary-General Waldheim will need all the skills he has acquired as an experienced diplomat with 16 years of experience at the UN to cope with the organization's urgent need for administrative reform and, more immediately, the task of replacing most of his Secretariat's top personnel.

The severe financial crisis confronting the organization will be the now Secretary-General's most difficult and immediate problem. The UN's ten-year accumulation of debts has reached close to $200 million. The UN stands near bankruptcy, with barely enough cash reserves to moot its obligations. in the next two months. Seven months of hard work on a plan to eliminate a cash deficit of over p50 million has failed in the fare of Russian and French refusal to wipe out past peacekeeping debts by voluntary contributions; NO solution is in sight

U.S. pressures to reduce financial commitments to the UN were given concrete form by the administration's December 2nd announcement that it would sock to reduce the present U.S. share of the regular budget from 31.5% to 25%. However, in his General Assembly explanation of U.S. abstention in the vote for the UN's 1972 budget of 4213 million - (up 10%) - U.S. delegate Rep. Edwin. Derwinski (R. - Ill.) said the U.S. did not intend, through this cut in its assessment, to reduce its overall contribution to the UN system. (See Wrap-Up of July, 1971 on Lodge Commission.)

Even more than fiscal actions, recent passage of a law that would permit the U.S. to resume the importation of chrome from Rhodesia threatens to undercut U.S. support of the UN. Five years ago, the Security Council imposed an embargo against all trade with Rhodesia to protect that country's racist policies. An. end to U.S. adherence to the embargo would constitute a violation of U.S. treaty obligations under the Charter, as the General Assembly, on November 16th, noted in what was probably its most overwhelmingly critical vote on a U.S. policy.

U.S. policies toward southern Africa were further protested by Rep. Charles Diggs (D. - Mich.), who became the first member of a U.S. delegation to the UN to resign in a policy dispute. Explaining his resignation, Rep. Diggs cited U.S. extension of economic credits to Portugal, negative votes or abstentions on resolutions dealing with South African, Portuguese or Rhodesian racism and colonialism, as well as the action on chrome.

Among other significant actions taken. by the 26th General Assembly, were votes to:

  • Endorse a treaty banning production and stockpiling of biological weapons;

  • Enlarge the Economic and Social Council from 27 to 54 members (pending ratification of a Charter amendment by 2/3 of the members, including the five permanent powers);

  • Urge total withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied Arab territories;

  • Admit five new members (for a total of 132);

  • Confirm Rudolph Peterson (who chaired the President's task force on foreign aid) to succeed Paul Hoffman as Administrator of UNDP.


January 1972 Top   Home   Newsletters March 1972