Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Message to the Congress Transmitting the 12th Annual Report on United States Participation in the United Nations.

June 26, 1958

To the Congress of the United States:

Pursuant to the United Nations Participation Act, I transmit herewith the twelfth annual report, covering United States participation in the United Nations during the year 1957.

The United Nations can justly take credit for a record of solid achievement in 1957. The General Assembly was faced with a series of grave issues. It met these challenges in a spirit of moderation and with responsible action. In most instances, painstaking effort and patient diplomacy produced satisfactory solutions based on reasonable compromise. Thus, peace was maintained in areas where existing tensions ran high, and substantial gains were achieved in the promotion of the social and economic well-being of mankind.

In the period under review a major step forward was taken in the field of disarmament when the General Assembly endorsed by a substantial majority the Western proposals for arms limitation and control.

We had made our position on disarmament abundantly clear. We were, and still are, firmly convinced that an effective system of armaments control with an adequate system of inspection affords the greatest hope of achieving the just and lasting peace we seek. As a step toward this objective we continued in 1957 to press for a limited "first-stage" agreement which would eliminate the dangers of surprise attack, lessen the threat of nuclear war, and reduce the heavy financial strain which the present arms race has imposed on many nations. We firmly believe that any sound measure which can achieve progress in this respect can and should be adopted.

In its efforts to achieve these objectives, the United States, acting in concert with a number of other states, submitted to the twelfth session of the General Assembly a set of practical measures which would achieve some form of limitation and control over armaments and armed forces. I would like to summarize them briefly.

First, we would halt all future production of nuclear materials for weapons purposes. Second, we would begin at once the transfer of past production of such materials to peaceful uses. Third, nuclear test explosions would come to a halt. fourth, conventional armaments and armed forces would be reduced. fifth, zones of air and ground inspection would be established in order to prevent surprise attacks. Sixth, we would begin a study of the means by which all developments in the field of outer space can be devoted solely to peaceful and scientific purposes.

Almost immediately after these proposals had been submitted, the Soviet Union rejected them out of hand. Nevertheless, the General Assembly endorsed the Western proposals by a large majority. The Soviet proposals on disarmament were rejected by the Assembly. In response to Soviet insistence that the Disarmament Commission be enlarged to include all 82 members of the United Nations, the Assembly agreed to expand the Commission from 12 to 25 members to afford wider representation in the disarmament discussions. However, the Soviet Union threatened to boycott further meetings of the Disarmament Commission and its Subcommittee.

These United Nations actions constitute a most encouraging world endorsement of the positive program of disarmament set forth by the United States--an endorsement of great significance in future discussions of the subject.

I was particularly gratified by the launching of the International Atomic Energy Agency, an achievement of far-reaching importance. As you may recall, I proposed in an address to the members of the General Assembly in 1953 that an international body be established to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

My hopes in this respect are on the way toward fulfillment. Last October the International Atomic Energy Agency established itself in headquarters in Vienna and held its first conference. Mr. W. Sterling Cole, for many years a respected member of the United States House of Representatives, was elected Director General of the Agency.

The International Atomic Energy Agency shows great promise as an international center responsible for the sharing by all nations of information, technical skills, and radioactive isotopes and nuclear fuels for peaceful pursuits.

Nowhere was United Nations action more effective last year than in the troubled Middle East. The General Assembly dealt with these issues responsibly.

In the case of the Turkish-Syrian "crisis," full and frank debate of the issue in the Assembly failed to substantiate Soviet and Syrian charges of a Turkish "threat to the peace."

The Assembly was faced with Soviet and Syrian charges that Turkey was preparing to attack Syria. In addition, the Soviet Union accused the United States of encouraging such an attack. Responsible debate in the General Assembly not only showed that these charges were without foundation but also made clear that the Soviet Union, by advancing false charges, had sought to stir up an artificial war scare and increase tensions. The situation was abated by the responsible attitudes and actions of United Nations members. Notable in this connection were the calm attitude of our Turkish ally and the offer of His Majesty King Saud to mediate. In the end, the Assembly did not need to take any action. Its open discussion of the issue, to which Ambassador Lodge made important contributions on behalf of the United States, demonstrated to the world that Syria and the Soviet Union had manufactured the "crisis" as a propaganda maneuver against the West.

In 1957 the United Nations took an important step forward to maintain peaceful conditions in another troubled area of the Middle East. In an unprecedented action its members agreed to share the costs of the United Nations Emergency force on the same basis as their contributions to the United Nations budget. In this way the Assembly insured the existence of UNEF for another year as the chief deterrent to threats to peace in the Gaza Strip and the Sharm-el-Sheikh area. This truly international police force can boast an inspiring record since its creation more than a year ago. It has helped to reduce to a minimum tension-breeding incidents between Egypt and Israel. Its international character has provided living proof that men of different nations, backgrounds and religions can work together harmoniously to create peaceful conditions in an area where tensions might otherwise run high.

The Suez Canal is now cleared and operating. The significance of the United Nations action which reopened this vital artery of world commerce cannot be overstated. One of the most difficult problems connected with the clearance of the Canal was the determination of a satisfactory means to repay costs of the clearance operations. The Assembly found an answer in a resolution which provides for the imposition of a three-percent surcharge on traffic passing through this Canal. As a result of this reasonable compromise which required assent by Egypt and the support of the major shipping nations, we can hope that the total costs of this vital operation will be repaid in due course.

The reelection of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold to a five-year term is reassuring. The members of the United Nations owe him a debt of gratitude for the role which he played in the solution of many issues confronting the United Nations last year, particularly in the Middle East. His keen understanding of the spirit and objectives of the United Nations combined with an astute sense of diplomacy have contributed substantially to the growing stature of the office which he holds.

Two former non-self-governing territories, Ghana and the federation of Malaya, became politically independent during the year and were elected members of the United Nations, increasing its membership to 82. Continued progress was made toward self-government or independence in the Trust Territories--notably in the General Assembly's decision to supervise elections in the Trust Territory of Togoland under french administration.

The General Assembly as in previous years, decided by a large majority not to consider the question of Chinese representation. The effect of this decision was to maintain the position of the Government of the Republic of China in the United Nations.

The General Assembly again gave consideration to the Korean question and by a substantial majority reaffirmed the principles on the basis of which the United Nations believes unification of Korea can be achieved. The Republic of Korea, regrettably, was again denied membership in the United Nations because of another Soviet veto, as was the case also with the membership application of the Republic of Viet-Nam.

In Hungary the Soviet Government and its puppet regime continue to defy the will of the United Nations. In January 1957 the General Assembly established a special committee to investigate the Soviet Union's intervention in Hungary and its defiance of the United Nations, and to report its findings to the Assembly.

The Hungarian regime barred the Committee from entering Hungary, but the Committee carried out its mission by gathering evidence elsewhere mainly from eyewitnesses who fled Hungary. The Committee's report proved irrefutably that the Hungarian revolt was a spontaneous popular uprising and that the Soviet Union, in violation of the United Nations Charter, forcibly deprived Hungary of its liberty and political independence.

To consider this report, the Eleventh General Assembly was reconvened last September in a special resumed session. It condemned the Soviet intervention, endorsed the Committee's report and appointed Prince Wan Waithayakon of Thailand as its Special Representative to achieve its objectives on Hungary. Prince Wan's efforts to carry out his mission have been rebuffed so far by the Soviet Government and the Hungarian authorities. In his report to the Twelfth General Assembly, Prince Wan expressed the hope that he would be given an opportunity to carry out his mandate as the Assembly's Special Representative. Until the Soviet Union shows respect for the General Assembly's resolution, it will continue to feel the censure of world opinion.

Of particular interest to the Congress is the General Assembly's action in accepting 30 percent as the maximum share to be paid by the largest contributor (the United States) to the budget of the United Nations. The Assembly took a first step toward achieving this objective by reducing the percentage assessment of the United States from 33 1/3 percent to 32 1/2 percent in 1958. Member states have contributed to this financing of the United Nations budget through a cost-sharing system based on their capacity to pay. With the admission of 22 new members in the past three years, the General Assembly decided that old members, including the United States, should pay proportionately less and thus benefit from payments by the new contributors.

It was gratifying to me that the General Assembly endorsed by an overwhelming majority a United States resolution to extend the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for an additional five years and to revise completely the refugee assistance program in order to enable it to meet emergency refugee problems more effectively as they arise. This action by the Assembly reflects a general recognition of the fact that the refugee problem is a problem involving human beings rather than mere static issues and sets of statistics--a problem which is extremely sensitive to changes in international affairs.

No summary of achievements of the United Nations activities in 1957 would be complete without mention of its economic and social activities. The work of its Specialized Agencies and voluntary programs, carried on without fanfare, attracts few headlines. But these organizations are making steady progress in raising the standards of living throughout the world. In recognition of the increasing needs in the economic and social field, the General Assembly last year adopted the United States proposals for the creation of a Special Projects fund in order to expand the United Nations activities in the technical assistance field. The resolution embodying these proposals not only provides for the establishment of the fund but also contemplates an increase from $30 million up to $100 million in funds available for expansion of United Nations technical assistance programs.

The additional funds would be devoted partially to increasing the resources available to the technical assistance programs and also to the establishment of the Special fund itself. The fund will support technical assistance projects in certain fields of basic importance to the successful economic growth of the underdeveloped nations. It will make possible surveys of water, mineral and potential power resources; the staffing and equipping of training institutes in public administration, statistics and technology; and the setting up of agricultural and industrial research and productivity centers.

This practical United Nations program is in line with the United States policy of promoting the economic and social progress of the underdeveloped nations. The Assembly's action also indicates acceptance of the United States position that, since adequate financial resources are not prospectively available, the establishment of a multimillion dollar United Nations capital development fund such as was envisaged in the proposed Special United Nations fund for Economic Development would be meaningless and illusory.

By its accomplishments in 1957, the United Nations again justified our often expressed faith in it as an effective instrument for preserving the peace and improving the well-being of mankind. We shall continue to give it our vigorous support.


Note: The 12th annual report on United States participation in the United Nations is published in House Document 372 (85th Cong., 2d sess.).

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Message to the Congress Transmitting the 12th Annual Report on United States Participation in the United Nations. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233636

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