CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
APRIL 4, 1962
UNITED NATIONS BONDS
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, the issue before us today goes far beyond the immediate question of the United Nations financial crisis. It goes beyond the specific method which may be adopted to empower the President to help overcome that crisis.
The underlying question is the place of the United Nations in our national policy, and the acceptance of responsibility for financial support of the United Nations by its members.
Last Sunday morning I had occasion to raise this question in a speech to the graduate student council of Catholic University. The title of my address was "The United Nations -- Is It Worth It?" Commenting on the question of financial responsibility, I said:
The United Nations isn't worth it unless it is worth it to the other nations as well as to ourselves. * * * It is fundamental that the United Nations is not worth it unless there is a chance that it can work, and it won't work unless its members believe in it and are willing to contribute to its resources and to give it support.
Mr. President, the basic objective of the proposed bond issue was to get the extraordinary expenses of the United Nations into the regular budget where the members would be subject to the charter penalty for failure to pay. I am in fundamental agreement with that objective, because I believe it is essential that the members of the United Nations, who have accepted the obligations of the principles of the organization, must accept financial responsibility. Both the committee recommendation and the compromise proposal meet the objective.
We should also note that however the loan or bond issue is handled, the ultimate effect of the shift in extraordinary U.N. expenses to the regular budget will reduce our proportion of the cost from 47.5 percent to 32.02 percent. This makes sense from our point of view and it makes sense from the point of view of the United Nations.
Mr. President, because of the questions which have been raised about the place of the United Nations in our national policy, and because my observations may serve a useful purpose in indicating the point-of-view of one Member of the Senate on this critical issue, I ask unanimous consent that the text of my remarks to the graduate student council, Catholic University, April 1, 1962, be printed in the RECORD at this point.
There being no objection, the remarks were ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
THE UNITED NATIONS -- IS IT WORTH IT?
(Remarks by Hon. EDMUND S. MUSKIE, a Senator from Maine, to the Graduate Student Council, Catholic University, Washington, D.C., April 1, 1962)
The subject, in this form, was suggested to me by your program committee. "The United Nations -- Is It Worth It?"
My first response to the question in this form is another question: "Is it worth what?" Is there a cost, in connection with our association with the United Nations, with which we should be concerned?
Is the United Nations worth the financial support which we give to its regular budget? The regular budget for 1962 is a little over $74 million of which we will be assessed 32.02 percent.
Is the United Nations worth the cost of supporting its peacemaking operations in the Congo? The alternative might have been a direct confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. The cost of these operations, since their beginning in July 1960, has averaged out at about $10 million per month. Of this cost, the United States has contributed 471/2 percent.
Is the United Nations worth the cost of supporting the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East? This operation has had the mission of stabilizing the situation in the Middle East since the Suez crisis and has had substantial success.
This cost has been running at about $20 million a year, of which the United States has contributed 45.98 percent.
Is the United Nations worth the cost of supporting the various voluntary programs? For example, there is the United Nations expanded technical assistance program and special fund, with a 1961 goal of $150 million, and a United States share of 40 percent. Its purpose is to enlist the resources of other western nations to assist developing nations.
The United Nations Children's Fund, known as UNICEF, runs at about $22 million a year, with a United States share of 44 percent.
When we are asked, "Is it worth it?" is it these sums of money with which the question is primarily concerned? Are they so large as to be burdensome, in and of themselves? Although they are large sums from the point of view of the taxpayer, they are not excessive in the context of our own Defense budget of about $50 billion and our own foreign-aid program of $4 to $5 billion.
What, then, is behind the question? Does it refer to the effort in manpower and energy which might be used elsewhere, the frustrations and the disappointments with which the United Nations has been involved? I doubt that these have been of such a disproportionate order of magnitude when compared with the effort, frustrations, and disappointments which have been involved in other ventures designed to promote peace in the troubled postwar world.
"Is it worth it?" Is the questioner concerned with certain risks which may be involved in our association with the United Nations?
Senator HENRY JACKSON of Washington, raised some questions along this line within the past 2 weeks which have stirred up controversy. He wonders whether or not the United Nations absorbs a disproportionate amount of the energies of our highest officials -- often devoted to defensive actions, trying to defeat this or that ill-advised resolution rather than on more constructive programs. He wonders whether or not the tendency to bring every issue to a vote tends to sharpen and even exaggerate points at issue and emphasize divisions of opinion rather than possibilities for agreement. He wonders whether or not the United Nations makes too much of talk and too little of deeds, thus "drum beating every nerve tingling issue." He wonders whether or not concern with the United Nations and its deliberations is given undue weight in our national policy formulation.
And so, Senator JACKSON raises three questions:
1. Do our present relations with the United Nations assist the wise definition of our vital interests and the establishment of sound policies?
2. Do we sometimes defer to the United Nations in the hope we may somehow escape the inescapable dilemmas of leadership?
3. Are we failing to make the most of the United Nations by encouraging it to attempt too much?
These are not unfriendly questions. They are entirely appropriate questions. It cannot be successfully denied that the United Nations has fallen short of perfection. Under these circumstances, any questions intelligently designed and motivated to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations should be applauded, not criticized. It should be borne in mind that, if the answers to the questions raised by Senator JACKSON were unfavorable to the status quo, we would not have proven that the United Nations has no value, but rather that Its value would be enhanced if it were modified in some respects.
Is it worth it? The questioner may have had in mind the following: "In such an international organization isn't there an implicit diminution of our sovereignty, a dilution of our ability to defend ourselves and to insure our security which create an unacceptable danger to our vital interests?" The alternatives. of course, are isolationism or reliance upon the old power alliances, which themselves raise comparable questions of equal gravity.
I do not think we can really answer the question of the United Nations' worth without giving some thought to the kind of world we would like to have and the obstacles on the road to achieving it.
The United Nations was born in 1942, when 26 nations signed the declaration which affirmed their union against the Axis Powers. The charter was signed by 50 nations in June of 1945 and went into force on October 24, 1945. There are now 104 members, not including Germany and Communist China, among others.
What were the aims of the charter nations?
Let us read the preamble of the United Nations Charter:
"We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women of nations large and small; and
"To establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained; and
"To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and
"For these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors; and
"To unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to insure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest; and
"To employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
"Have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims."
Is it worth it? Certainly these aims are worth it. The peoples of the charter nations believed in them with a purity and clarity refined in the crucible of a war from which they were emerging.
If all the peoples of the earth today were given an opportunity to reply in concert to a question raising the worthwhileness of these aims, they would answer with a thundering, "Yea".
The real question, in my judgment, is not, "Is it worth it?", but rather, "Can it do the job?" I think we have demonstrated that if, through the United Nations, we are pursuing the noble aims of that organization, and, however slight progress toward them may have been in the past, we have prospects for some progress in the future, then the United Nations is worth it. The financial costs are worth it. The risks are worth it. But the "if" is a big one.
Can it work?
The four basic purposes of the United Nations as stated in the charter are (1) to maintain international peace and security; (2) to develop friendly relations among nations, based on the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; (3) to encourage the achievement of international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character; and (4) to serve as a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
The most important of these objectives is the maintenance of international peace and security. But before we explore the performance and promise of the United Nations in that vital area, let us examine the record of the world organization in the other three categories of its purposes.
The development of friendly relations among nations is difficult to measure in objective terms. Like all human relationships, personal and collective, the relationships of nations are fluid. We cannot measure national interchanges in the same way we can chart the metabolism of an organism, the temperature of a furnace, or the orbit of a satellite.
But we can say, I think, that an organization of nations which has grown from 50 members in 1945 to 104 members, today, demonstrates a substantial trend toward self-determination. The fact that each of these nations, large or small, has an equal voice in the General Assembly -- no matter how inconvenient such equality may be for us from time to time -- is a remarkable achievement in a world dominated by monumental power struggles.
The growth of friendly relations depends to a large degree on the successes we may have in breaking the ancient barriers of ignorance, suspicion, poverty and disease. Outside the halls of the General Assembly and beyond the chambers of the Security Council, the United Nations has carried out the mundane tasks of eradicating disease, easing hunger, caring for the refugees, providing for the needs of children, stimulating education, encouraging economic and fiscal stability, aiding scientific cooperation, and providing vehicles for international conferences and programs on such varied subjects as labor and civil aviation. Its Human Rights Commission has been a moral force in encouraging the recognition of such rights in many areas of the world.
The alphabets of WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF (United Nations Childrens Fund), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration), IRO (International Refugee organization), SUNFED (Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development), ILO (International Labor organization), and IMF (International Monetary Fund) represent a broad range of cooperative international ventures which would have been improbable if not impossible without the United Nations.
In my opinion, even if the United Nations had no other function than the stimulation of international cooperation in those areas of human need and interest unassociated with power politics, it would have a vital place in our world. In the long run, the relatively unpublicized work of the United Nations agencies in health, education, science, welfare, cultural interchange, economic development and adjustment, and human rights may be the most effective means of establishing true international understanding. Where men and women can work together for common goals which enhance the dignity of man they will learn the true meaning of brotherhood.
Increasingly, the United Nations is achieving its purpose of harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends, both through the cooperative agencies and organizations and the Economic and Social Council and through the encouragement of such enterprises as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the International Geophysical Year.
It remains to be seen whether the United Nations will be able to harmonize the actions of the nations in the attainment of international peace and security.
Understandably, it is the peacekeeping or peacemaking machinery of the U.N. which carries the greatest burden of responsibility. It is in this area of activity that it is judged most severely.
The recent debate, apparently about to be resolved, over the proposed United Nations bond issue, highlights this fact. Part of the opposition to the bond issue is made up of those who oppose the United Nations per se. However, the chief participants in the debate, on both sides of the issue, have been those who believe in the United Nations but who disagree as to the best means for giving it necessary financial assistance at this time.
The chief criticism of the United Nations by those who have opposed the bond issue is that other nations are too ready to avoid their obligations to contribute, too ready to let Uncle Sam carry the load. They argue that the bond issue would encourage such nations to believe that Uncle Sam will bail them out always. It is argued by some of these critics that we should not enter into a long-term financing scheme until the United Nations is reorganized and payment of dues is made an absolute condition of membership.
On the other side of the question, the proponents for the bond issue argue that it would make support of such peacemaking operations as those in the Congo a part of the regular budget and thus bolster the principles of collective financial responsibility for United Nations operations; that repayment over 25 years would allow most members to pay without hardship.
Implicit, therefore, in all of these arguments, pro and con, is general agreement that the United Nations isn't worth it unless it is worth it to the other nations as well as to ourselves.
On this point, it is timely to refer to pertinent provisions of the United Nations Charter.
Article II of the Charter states:
"All members, in order to insure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter."
The following provision is also found in Article 11:
"All members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter."
Article IV, containing the requirements for membership, is also pertinent:
"Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations."
All the present members of the United Nations, then, have accepted the obligations of the Charter, and have been found able and willing to carry out these obligations. Thus if the United Nations is worth it to them, there is no excuse for any failure on their part to support it.
In the very first session of the General Assembly in 1946 consideration was given to the question of assessing the costs of the organization. It was decided that, in general, costs should be shared on the basis of capacity to pay. The United States objected to the literal application of this standard for two reasons: (1) That because the equality of the sovereign members is recognized by equal votes in the General Assembly, no one state should pay a disproportionate share of the costs; and (2) it would not be good for one member to pay such a large share lest it have a predominating influence on the activities of the organization. And so, the General Assembly fixed a ceiling which started at 39.89 percent, which later dropped to 33.33 percent, and which is now 32.03 percent, on the amount which should be paid by any one member. It also fixed a floor of 0.04 percent.
Thus, it was recognized, at the very outset that the United Nations, if it is to succeed, must not be the financial ward of any one nation, and must be supported by all nations. However much we believe in its aims, we must recognize this principle as essential.
And so, it is fundamental that the United Nations is not worth it unless there is a chance that it can work, and it won't work unless its members believe in it and are willing to contribute to its resources and to give it support.
There are two other serious questions affecting the United Nations which ought to be considered by anyone interested in evaluating its future potential.
First, do we rely too heavily on the international organization in situations that affect our national interests? Is there a serious risk in entrusting the pursuit of important national interests to a mechanism the next twists and turns of which one cannot predict?
I doubt that these questions can be answered by a generalization. Only a case-by-case review of the crises, which have confronted the world since the United Nations was created, would give us a valid answer. I am sure that following such a review, it might be concluded that, in some instances, we have relied upon the United Nations too little, and in others, too much. I think it has been our general policy to use it as another tool, an important tool, in the arsenal for peace.
The United Nations Charter itself recognizes this -- that in the world of reality in which we live, the Organization itself will not be, and should not be, the exclusive tool. The charter recognizes regional arrangements such as NATO, and the Organization of Latin American States.
We have continued to use the normal channels of diplomacy and other approaches to nations with different points of view in an effort to accommodate those differences and to relieve tension.
To put all of our eggs in the United Nations basket would be a serious mistake. The United Nations cannot yet carry that kind of responsibility and it would be suicidal for us to entrust that kind of responsibility to it.
Therefore, it is highly appropriate that we review the charter and our experience under it, with a view to determining whether it is as effective a tool as present world conditions would permit.
And then there is the second question which I would raise, as I close. In a world dominated by the two superpowers is it reasonable to expect that an organization, which has no being outside of the members, can be an effective force for peace?
On this point I would like to suggest the following observations:
1. World opinion, whatever it is, does influence, and has demonstrably influenced, both of the superpowers. The United Nations is the best forum in existence for mobilizing such opinion.
2. The world constantly changes. New alignments of nations spring up. Old ones break down. Other forces, potential or actual, of a dimension to give the major powers pause, spring into being. Only a few illustrations are necessary to make the point. The European Common Market, with its rapidly accelerating economic force and its potential political cohesiveness, cannot be ignored by either of the superpowers. Red China, with its increasing independence of the Soviet Union, represents another change. The developing nations with their hundreds of millions of restless, yearning, underprivileged peoples, are an explosive force which can create havoc in the world if not directed into constructive channels.
3. Technological and scientific changes can shift the balance of power in the world overnight.
4. Internal changes, within the boundaries of the superpowers themselves, can affect the national goals and intentions.
And so, even the superpowers, as they face the uncertainties of the future, cannot regard themselves as self-sufficient. They cannot afford to be reckless. They must be concerned with the intentions, the growth, and the resources of nations other than themselves.
Is the United Nations worth it? Its aims, as stated in the preamble of the charter, certainly are.
There is no alternative means to seek those aims. If we were to abandon the United Nations we would have to create other similar means. We cannot isolate ourselves from the problems of the world. We cannot isolate ourselves from the impact of those who might seek to destroy us. We cannot isolate ourselves from the millions over the globe whose aspirations motivate them to break out of the prison of their present circumstances. Being of the world, we must be a part of it.
It is not easy to recall instances of United Nations successes. But there have been such. Most of them have related to its activities outside its peace machinery. Even with respect to the objective of maintaining the peace, in all fairness, I think it can be said that the world would be in a far worse state than it is but for the existence and the efforts of the United Nations Organization since 1945.
It is well to recall the frustrations and disappointments which plagued the Founding Fathers of our system of government in the years between the victory at Yorktown and the adoption of the Constitution. Those were the years when, for the first time in the history of the world, freemen were given an opportunity to choose their form of government and to govern themselves.
Their first choice, the Articles of Confederation, was a poor one. For lack of proper authority in the Central Government, national problems were neglected. The Thirteen Colonies began to emerge, not as a single nation, but as 13 nations, jealous of each other, erecting trade barriers against each other, creating competing currencies, and contributing rapidly to a declining prestige abroad. On both sides of the Atlantic, serious questions were raised as to whether or not it was possible for freemen to govern themselves.
So strong did the doubts become that veterans of Washington's army pleaded with him to make himself king.
When the forefathers gathered in Philadelphia, their primary concern was to find a practicable means for freemen to consider common problems and to arrive at common decisions. Their second choice was a good one. And since that time, this country has survived and prospered and grown in influence throughout the world because the means have proven to be practicable.
I am not suggesting that a central world government is the answer. That is too easy a parallel to draw and a dangerous conclusion to reach. I am saying that we have demonstrated that a government of law, under which people of diverse background and problems may reach common decisions, is possible.
The fact that the United Nations has not proved to be a perfect instrument -- and indeed it has been a very imperfect instrument -- is not a reason to abandon it. Rather, we should continue to work at it as the Founding Fathers did at Philadelphia to define the means for meeting the objective.
Sovereign nations of different traditions, races, problems, resources, and goals must learn to live
together under international law. Not only do I think this is not too much to hope for, but, on the
contrary, unless there is some hope for it, there is no future for mankind.