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Message to the Congress Transmitting 16th Annual Report on U.S. Participation in the United Nations.

August 02, 1962

To the Congress of the United States:

Pursuant to the provisions of the United Nations Participation Act, I transmit herewith the sixteenth annual report covering United States participation in the United Nations in 1961.

In the course of that year the United Nations faced and surmounted several crises; dealt with a heavy parliamentary agenda; administered expanding programs in the economic and social field; and took several steps of potentially great significance for the future peace and prosperity of the world.

A detailed record of these events and accomplishments is set forth in the body of this report, but in transmitting it to the Congress I should like to call attention to three matters of compelling importance which the United Nations faced in 1961.

First was the administrative crisis at United Nations Headquarters. This arose when the Soviet Union sought to replace an impartial Secretariat with a three-headed directorate--representing the Communist bloc and the so-called capitalist and neutralist groups of nations--each with a veto. This attempt to destroy the executive capacity of the United Nations, following the untimely death of the late Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, was rejected decisively. In the unanimous election of U Thant to fill Mr. Hammarskjold's unexpired term, the full integrity of the office of the Secretary-General was preserved.

Second was the operational crisis for the United Nations peace-keeping force in the Congo. By the end of the year the secession of Orientale Province had been brought to an end, fighting in Katanga was replaced by a cease-fire, and the dissidents in Katanga had agreed to negotiate for reintegration of that Province with the rest of the Congo.

Third was the financial crisis. This was brought on mainly by the refusal or inability of some members to pay their share of the cost of peace-keeping operations in the Congo and the Middle East. In the course of the year the General Assembly adopted a three-point plan to meet immediate peacekeeping costs, collect arrearages, and provide adequate funds until a more permanent method can be devised for financing future peace-keeping operations.

Despite the dangers and strains of these crises, the United Nations in 1961 took three steps which I believe will be of great future significance to the world's security and wellbeing.

1. The United Nations created the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee agreed upon by the United States and the Soviet Union as a forum for renewed disarmament negotiations which began this spring in Geneva. In presenting to the General Assembly the United States proposals for general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world, the United States delegation made clear that steps toward disarmament must be matched, at each stage, by steps toward improving the peace-keeping machinery of the United Nations. It is this essential linkage which will make disarmament a practical proposition whenever nations can agree on the necessary goals and safeguards. Every improvement in the machinery of peace will make it easier for us, with confidence, ultimately to begin dismantling the machinery of war. Whatever obstacles and disappointments may lie ahead, the world must some day travel the road to disarmament. For in the nuclear age, armaments no longer offer fundamental security to any nation.

2. The United Nations also laid the groundwork in 1961 for a U.N. Decade of Development to help speed progress toward the economic and social goals of the newly emerging nations. The launching of a World food Program and the decision to hold an international conference on the application of science and technology to the less developed world are only initial steps. The United States intends to propose further measures to focus the resources of the United Nations on this 10-year drive against economic want and social injustice.

3. Finally, the United Nations, in 1961, turned in earnest to the critical search for international cooperation in the exploration of outer space. Within the framework of the newly created U.N. Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, discussions were under way at the end of the year looking toward international cooperation in outer space, including cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union in the development of communications and weather programs.

These were major constructive moves of the United Nations in 1961: to work toward the replacement of the machinery of war with the institutions of peace; to help guide the newly developing nations toward modernization; and to seek international cooperation in the exploration of outer space for the benefit of all. The United States played a major role in initiating these progressive steps in the United Nations. They served the foreign policy interest of this country. And they were wholly compatible with the mutually reinforcing policies which we have pursued through the institutions of the North Atlantic Community, through regional organizations, and through diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, the United Nations continued to play vigorously two indispensable continuing roles. It kept the peace in the Middle East and the Congo. And it continued to be absorbed in the often difficult transfer of dependent areas to nationhood.

Finally, it cannot be said too often that the Charter of the United Nations expresses well the basic precepts and standards of conduct that guide our own society. These precepts and standards are not destroyed because this nation or that, consistently or occasionally, violates them. The indestructible principles of the Charter exert a gravitational pull which adds strength to every aspect of our world-wide diplomacy. The United Nations, under that Charter, provides a framework within which we can pursue the highest goal of American foreign policy: a world community of independent nations living together in free association and at peace with each other.


Note: The report, "U.S. Participation in the UN," is Department of State Publication 7413, International Organization and Conference Series 33 (Government Printing Office, 1962, 414 pp.).

John F. Kennedy, Message to the Congress Transmitting 16th Annual Report on U.S. Participation in the United Nations. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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