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United Nations Letter to the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Transmitting a Report.

March 02, 1978

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. Chairman:)

In accordance with Section 503 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1978, I am pleased to submit to the Congress a report on recommendations for reform of the United Nations. Also enclosed is a detailed analysis of various reform proposals provided to me by the Secretary of State.

I assumed the Presidency with a commitment to strengthen this essential instrument of world peace and U.S. diplomacy. I now reaffirm that the United States will make the fullest possible use of the United Nations to assist in solving the many political, economic, legal, and humanitarian problems that press upon the international community.

At the same time, I am aware of the need to maintain constant attention to reform of the UN. This report contains a number of positive proposals for reform that this Administration intends to pursue.

I welcome this opportunity to communicate with you on these issues, and I appreciate the Congress permitting a one month delay in submission of this report. I value highly the work of the Congress in support of U.S. participation in the United Nations, and look forward to a continuation of that cooperative endeavor.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John J. Sparkman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

On the same day, the White House issued the following statement on the report:

The President today sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report entitled "Reform and Restructuring of the United Nations System." In the report, the President called the United Nations an "essential instrument of world peace and U.S. diplomacy" but proposed a number of concrete steps for the U.S. Government to pursue in order to make the U.N. system more effective in the future.

Although the President sends annual reports to Congress on U.S. activities in the United Nations, this is the first report concerning reform of the U.N. organization itself and, accordingly, contains the administration's recommendations for realistically strengthening the U.N. organization in a number of areas. The report generally indicates the administration's commitment to giving a higher priority to resolving issues within the U.N. framework and its belief that reforms in a number of areas are urgently needed. A basic premise of the report is that under present circumstances, reform by amending the U.N. Charter is improbable, and it is, therefore, more productive to seek institutional and administrative reforms within the present charter framework.

The President's report (accompanied by a longer analysis by the Secretary of State) is organized around seven areas of concern to the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on Strengthening the Role of the Organization. These are:
1. Peace, security, and strengthening international law;
2. Decisionmaking processes in the United Nations;
3. Human rights;
4. Financing the United Nations;
5. Achieving greater efficiency in the United Nations system;
6. Improving United States participation in the work of the organizations and programs of the United Nations system;
7. The Secretariat of the United Nations system.

Among the major recommendations in the President's report are the following:

—to press for strengthening of human rights procedures in the U.N.

—to assist, upon request from the Secretary General, with airlift of troops and equipment required for establishing a U.N. Peacekeeping Force authorized by the Security Council.

—to offer factual information from aircraft reconnaissance technology to the Security Council, when the parties to a dispute agree and under Security Council authorization.

—to explore the possibility of establishing a Special Peacekeeping Fund on the order of $100 million to help cover initial costs of operations authorized by the Security Council.

—to work for better coordination of the U.N. Technical Assistance activities by making the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) the major channel for U.S. voluntary contributions and helping to strengthen the UNDP's programing and coordinating role.

—to hold periodic meetings of the Security Council at the Foreign Minister level as part of a general effort to strengthen the role of the Security Council in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

—to foster greater use of the International Court of Justice by a variety of means, including reevaluating existing disputes to see whether they are appropriate to submit to the Court.

—to give substantially greater weight in our national policy to decisions arrived at by consensus in United Nations bodies.

—to support recent General Assembly plans to restructure and reform the economic and social functions of the U.N.

—to explore new ways of meeting the U.N. financial deficit and explore the possibility of supplementing U.N. finances from sources other than contributions of member governments.

On the subject of weighted voting, the President's report states, "There is no prospect for the adoption of a generally applicable weighted-voting system in the General Assembly." The report suggests that instead of trying to work for weighted voting, "it would be better to employ our efforts toward defining voluntary, but common standards to curtail the use of the veto in the Security Council and reduce the necessity of invoking it."

The report notes that, "If we are to develop adequate machinery for management of the world's common problems, a central concern of our foreign policy in the remaining years of this century must be the building of a more effective U.N. system. To this end, this administration is committed to working for a stronger and more effective United Nations."

In the context of consultations with Congress, the United States will proceed to discuss these proposals with other members of the United Nations and with Secretary General Waldheim and to seek their support.

The presentation of this report was pursuant to Section 503 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1978 (Public Law 95-105 ).

Jimmy Carter, United Nations Letter to the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Transmitting a Report. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244577

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