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United States Participation in the United Nations Message to the Congress Transmitting a Report.

January 18, 1979

To the Congress of the United States:

I am pleased to send Congress this report of United States Government activities in the United Nations and its affiliated agencies during calendar year 1977.

This 32nd annual report strengthens my conviction that the United Nations is of great and growing importance to the conduct of U.S. foreign relations. We cannot effectively advance world peace and our other national interests if we ignore the potential of this global organization.

Ambassador Andrew Young called the 1977 General Assembly the "most constructive session in many years." It was largely free of the wasteful tactics of confrontation that had marred other recent sessions.

The other organs of the United Nations and the various specialized agencies also made progress on many of the difficult issues that humanity faces.

I am proud of the role we played in encouraging this constructive atmosphere. We are committed to resolving problems through reason and discussion, not confrontation.

Our national interests are best served by such cooperation, and by listening with respect to the problems of all nations, large and small. Our delegations paid particular attention to the views of those developing nations which make up twothirds of the UN's membership and worked with them to identify points of common concern.

The interests of America and of many other UN members coincided in the search for peace in the Middle East and southern Africa, the promotion of human rights, the Panama Canal Treaties, and economic development to help meet the basic human needs of more than a billion of the world's people.

One of my first acts as President was to invite UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim to the White House, and I have discussed international issues with him on a number of occasions since then. During 1977, I was also privileged to speak at the United Nations twice-once during March, and again at the opening of the 32nd General Assembly in September. Also while in New York, I took the occasion to sign the two United Nations human rights covenants which for many years had lacked U.S. signature.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has taken extraordinary pains—including direct participation in Security Council and General Assembly meetings—to make the United Nations an increasingly vital factor in the conduct of this country's foreign relations. And Ambassador Young has worked with great skill and unusual effectiveness in improving our relationship with the UN and its member states.

Events in the United Nations system will not always go the way that this country might desire. The changing makeup of these organizations, the increasing diffusion of global power and the growing complexities of all issues make this inevitable. But those occasions should not make us withdraw our support, for the UN reflects the reality of the world in which we must live. We should, instead, feel challenged to develop imaginative and thoughtful new approaches in our diplomacy so as to advance our interests, and to play a constructive role in the world community. In particular, we need to continue demonstrating our faith in the basic purposes of an organization whose strength and effectiveness are essential to us and to the world.

The attached report details U.S. positions and policies on the issues which arose in the UN system during 1977. It includes:

—The extensive conduct of the so-called "North-South" dialogue—the discussion of economic and other issues between industrialized countries and the developing nations;

—Our support for the social and economic development activities—including those of the UN Development Program. Some 90 percent of the funds expended by the UN system benefit these activities;

—U.S. efforts to support new progress on human rights throughout the UN system;

—preparations for the 1978 special General Assembly session devoted to disarmament;

—the adoption by consensus of a General Assembly resolution on aircraft hijacking, to make the world's airways safer for people everywhere;

—the beginning of extensive efforts against great odds to pursue peaceful settlements in Namibia and Rhodesia; and

—U.S. ratification and support of a new UN specialized agency—the International Fund for Agricultural Development-which will provide new resources to improve food production and nutrition in low-income countries and can benefit us by stabilizing the global food market.

Also included in this document is an analysis of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the International Labor Organization in November 1977. I took this decision with regret, since U.S. interests in international organizations are better met through membership and active participation than through withdrawal. Nevertheless, since announcement in 1975 of U.S. intention to withdraw, we believed that insufficient progress had been made in resolving a number of difficulties in operation of the ILO. I still hope that the United States can return to the ILO when its operations clearly return to the organization's basic purposes.

Finally, among the activities of 1977—but not included in this report—was steady work within the Administration on ways that the United States can work to strengthen the United Nations. My report on that topic, sent to the Congress on March 2, 1978, outlines reforms which can make the United Nations even more effective as the world's major forum for discussion and action on global issues.

I welcome the continuing interest of the Congress in U.S. participation in the United Nations, and I urge its increased moral backing and financial support as the United States addresses in the United Nations the increasingly difficult issues that lie ahead.


The White House,

January 18, 1979.

Note: The 335-page report is entitled "U.S. Participation in the UN—Report by the President to the Congress for the Year 1977."

Jimmy Carter, United States Participation in the United Nations Message to the Congress Transmitting a Report. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249416

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