The Many Ways the U.N. Serves the USSR

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The Many Ways the U.N. Serves the USSR

May 3, 1984 17 min read Download Report
Juliana Geran
Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies
(Archived document, may contain errors)

I I i I I I I I I 349 May 3, 1984 THE WAYS THE U.N. SERVES THE INTRODUCTION While the U.S. is constantly under siege at the United Nations and reluctantly has come to regard it as hostile terrain, the U.N. seems to work quite satisfactorily for the Soviet Union In 1982, for example, the majority of U.N. members, the so-called nonali ed, voted with the USSR 83 percent of the time in the Genera 9" Assembly. The U.N.Is New York headquarters has becom e a agenda almost always is furthered by U.N. actions base for Soviet espionage and propaganda. And the Soviet A main reason for MOSCOW~S success is its adroit manipulation of the U.N. rules, at times in violation of the U.N. Charter. From the,outset, the USSR saw

e U.N. as a forum for spreading Soviet views. It has behaved with a more cynical but also more realistic assessment of the U.N. Is capacities and prospects than have Western nati0ns.l The result is a sharp contrast between how the U.N. serves the USSR and how it serves the United States. Examples o None of the Soviet citizens working in the U.N. Secre tariat are permanent international civil servants; they all report regularly to the Soviet Mission to the U.N.

By contrast, there is no coordinatio n whatsoever by the U.S. government of American U.N. employees, the vast majority of whom are permanent U.N.-civil servants Alexander Dallin, The Soviet Union at the United Nations Soviet Motives and Objectives (Ne Praeger, 1962 p 25 An Inquiry into 2 Ove r one-third of Soviet employees are involved in espio- nage activities, according to the FBI. By contrast, knowledgeable insiders doubt that any American in the U.N. is working for U.S. intelligence agencies.

Soviet fronts use the U.N. for propaganda activities. No comparable American efforts exist.

The Soviets have infiltrated several key departments in the Secretariat and have access to privileged personnel information. No American has such access.

The Soviet Union has three votes in the General Assembly; the U.S. has only one.

The U.N. recognizes Soviet oriented "national liberation movements II but blacklists pro-Western or anti-communist liberation groups.

The USSR is nearly 200 million in default to the U.N paying much less than its fair share of peacekeeping opera- tions; the U.S..pays over 25 percent of those operations.

Moscow will continue manipulating the U.N so long as the organization's rules remain unchan ed. And while the U.S. could feel uncom fortable and probably be criticized b Congress. What the original spirit of the U.N. Charter try to emulate Soviet tactics SUC z actions would make Americans is needed, therefore, is modification of the ru 1 es to recapture HOW U.N. RULES WORK IN MOSCOW'S FAVOR Articles 100 and 101 of the U.N. Charter The spirit of these articles is clear: Secretariat employees are to be international civil servants, loyal to the U.N. rather than to any particular nation. Yet Article 101, paragraph 1, opens a loophole, all o wing the Secretary General to appoint staff accord- ing to General Assembly recommendations. I1fixed-term1l appointments, known as Ilsecondment I2 Secondment permits U.N. employees to serve the U.N. temporarily, an average of five years, and then return t o service with their own govern- ments This has permitted All Soviet Secretariat employees are on secondment from The Preparatory Commission, in 1945, provided for fixed-term appointments in the the Secretariat (PC/20 at 85, 92-93)--a practice later adopte d by the General Assembly in Resolution 13 (I) of February 13, 19

46. In 1956 the merits of career vs. fixed-term appointments were dealt with in the report of the Salary Review Committee, established under General Assembly Resolution 975 (X) (1955 For det ails of the history, see Theodore Meron The United Nations Secretariat (New York: Lexington Books, 1977 pp. 28-33. 3 Moscow. These employees, moreover, reportedly turn their U.N. paychecks over to the Soviet government, of which only a fraction is returne d. This amounts to a U.N. subsidy of the USSR.

Article IV, Section 11, of the U.N. Headquarters Agreement 194'1 I This allows U.N. employees, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and other persons invited to the headquarters to travel freely a nywhere in the U.S. Soviet Union has abused this privile e by using at least one-third of its nationals in the Secretariat i! or espionage missions in the U.S According to the FBI, the Resolution 1296 of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC J 1968 This facilitates cooperation between the U.N. and so-called nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Through various front groups, such as the World Peace Council, which have gained NGO status in the U.N. and are affiliated with the Department of Public Informati on, ECOSOC, and other U.N. organs, the Soviet Union uses U.N. forums and U.N. funds to stage conferences that promote Soviet foreign policy objectives.

General Assembly Resolution 35/210 (1980 This codifies a longstanding practice in the Secretariat it ens ures that, when vacancies occur at posts staffed on a fixed-term basis (that is rimarily Soviet bloc nationals the replacements will be from t R e same country as their predecessors. This has allowed MOSCOW, through years of clever maneuvering, to capture some ke Secretariat osts, and along with them, access recruit new agents the Department of Public Information (used for propaganda purposes and the U.N. library (whose copy machines can provide an abundance of material from U.S. public and university libr a ries In addition, Soviets run the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs and coordinate the activities of the Center against Apartheid to personnel fi I es (used by &e KGB, the Soviet secret police, to Article 3 of the U.N. Charter This decl a res all Ilstatesll that ratified the U.N. Declaration of January 1, 1942, to be "original Members of the United Nations Accordingly, the Soviet Union is represented at the U.N. by three countries: the USSR proper, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia, despite the fact that these two republics enjoy no independence in the Soviet system today. This not only allows Moscow three votes in the General Assembly, but also permits three separate New York- based Missions, about a third of whose employees are, according to t h e FBI, heavily involved in espionage 4 General Assembly Resolutions 2105(X 1965) and 2708(XXV 19'/0 In this, the General Assembly recognizes the legitimacy of national liberation movements (NLMs) and of U.N. funding for them. With the help of various U.N. organs, notably the Committee of 24, this boosts, and gives legitimacy to, Soviet supported insur- gent groups that use military means to reach their objectives contrary to the spirit of Article 2 of the U.N. Charter urging restraint from support for the use of force against Member States.

Article 17 of the U.N. Charter Section 2 of Article 17 states that Vhe expenses of the Organization [U.N shall be borne by the Members as apportioned by the General Assembly The Soviet Union has taken advantage of the Ch arter I s failure to mention peacekeeping operations speci- fically to contribute virtually nothing to missions designed to keep peace in the Congo, the Golan Heights, or Lebanon. Currently, the USSR is in arrears in its payments to the U.N. by about $200 million, nearly all of which is peacekeeping nonsupport.3 The ambiguity of Article 17 also gives the Soviet Union the option of paying its share of the U.N. budget in rubles--at an exchange rate determined by the Soviets (which greatly overesti- mates the real value of the ruble). 1n.recent years, the USSR has chosen to make its voluntary and assessed payments in rubles, which are virtually useless outside the USSR SECONDMENT: UNDERMINING THE SECRETARIAT'S IMPARTIALITY As early as 1961, the Soviet Union st a rted undermining the concept of a permanent U.N. civil service.4 In 1968, Platon Morozov, the Soviet member of the 1968 Committee on the Reogani- zation of the Secretariat, demanded that permanent employment contracts no longer be issued. In 1975, E. N. M a keev, the Soviet delegate to the Fifth Committee, stated that members of the Secretariat "were not citizens of the world but nationals of Member States,Il and asked for an end to appointments that bene- fitted Iloverrepresented states" (by implication, pe r manent contracts). Today, every one of the approximately 200 profes- sional Secretariat employees from the USSR are on a fixed-term I I I In July 1962, the International Court of Justice (ICJ at the request of the General Assembly, gave an advisory opinio n declaring that the expenses of the U.N. Emergency Force and the U.N. force in the Congo should be paid by Member States.

Court's opinion.

See Meron, op. cit., pp. 28-33.

A/C.5/SR. 1753, November 28, 1975, paragraph 33 In December 1962, the Assembly acc epted the Yet the Soviet Union ignored the ICJ's decision I 5 I contract. In addition, virtually all but the highest-ranking Soviet personnel are obliged to live in a Soviet-controlled diplo- mats' compound in the Riverdale section of the Bronx These Sovi e t employees of the U.N observes Richard Jackson, a professional foreign service officer and political advisor to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. during 1980-1983, are "indistinguishable from govern- ment apparatchiks I6 All the actiyities of Soviet Secretari a t employees, moreover, are coordinated in detail by the Soviet Mission to the U.N According to Arkady Shevchenko, the Soviet who was U.N. Under Secretary General until his 1978 defection to the U.S Soviet employees are obliged to turn their U.N. salaries o ver to the Soviet government and receive only a fraction in return. One Western diplomat said: "The whole world is underwriting their work It is estimated that about $15.2 million of the $22.7 million earned each year by the Soviet Secretariat staff ends up in Moscow.

UNRESTRICTED TRAVEL As the FBI long has known, the U.N. headquarters i n New York rovides an excellent base for Soviet espionage. R. Jean Gray ead of the FBI's New York division, told The Heritage Foundation that there were about 1,100 communist bloc officials in New York. About 200 to 250 are Soviet professional Secretariat employees; one-third of these are estimated to be agents of the KGB and other Soviet intelligence services.

FBI attempts to monitor the activities of Soviet Secretariat employees are greatly hampered by the privileges conferred by the U.N. headquarters ag reement, which allows all U.N. employees unlike Mission personnel-to travel freely anywhere in the U.S. Arkady Shevchenko agrees, stating that Soviet KGB agents in the Secretariat take advantage of this privilege frequently to conduct high technology espi onage actions, after calling in "sick.

MOVING UP THE RANKS The USSR has been remarkably successful in increasing its numbers in the high-level posts of the Secretariat Senior Posts as a Percentage of Total Posts USSR U.S 1977 12.7 10.5 1983 15.0 9.7 See Ri chard L. Jackson, The Non-Aligned, the U.N. and the Superpowers (New York: Praeger, 1983 p. 162.

Juliana Geran Pilon MOSCOW'S U.N. Outpost Heritage Foundation Back fxact updated figures are difficult to procure, partly because of the relatively large turn over of Soviet personnel rounder No. 307, p. 2 6 One reason for the Soviet success is Resolution 35/210 which allows those countries that provide staff members on fixed terms, or on secondment, to provide replacements on a continuous basis In addition to the occupancy of high-level posts, moreover, the Soviets have penetrated key departments.

Office of Personnel Services. personnel rules and th e tiles ot the U.N. Personnel Office is a key to MOSCOW~S success in the Secretariat. The Director of Policy Coor dination in the Personnel Office, Victor Elissejev, is only one of several Soviet bloc employees with access to U.N. personnel files; they are in an excellent position to manipulate the U.N.Is job promotion procedures. According to several U.N. sources, i n cluding former Under-Secretary General Shevchenko, Moscow uses this opportunity to repay Secretariat employees who cooperate with the USSR and punish those who do not. A former employee in this Office, David Arnold, a U.S. foreign service officer currentl y at the Columbia University Center for Human Rights, states that the U.S. has been virtually "eased out" of policy positions in the Personnel Office in recent years. He also indicates that the previously unbroken tradition of having an American as one of t he three Directors in this Office was discontinued in the spring of 1983 Department of Public Information. External Relations Division ot th is Department, Anatoly Mkrtchyan, has been identified by Arkady Shevchenko as a KGB colonel. Mkrtchyan directs the dissemination of U.N. material to all 64 U.N. Information Centers throughout the world.' His powers were strengthened by the January 1982 transfer of the centers' Admin- istrative Unit from the Office of General Services (headed by an American le The Depa rtment's tendency to slant U.N. DPI publi- cations in line with Soviet propaganda efforts has been amply documented.ll The DPI, for example, has managed to avoid any reference to the Soviet destruction of KAL Flight

7. In its press releases, DPI has refer red to !!the Korean airliner draft decision, If the destruction of Korean aircraft Ithe Korean airlines inci- dent the loss of a Korean airliner the disappearance of a Korean airliner, If Itthe downing of Korean aircraft, If Ifthe airliner tradgedy but ab s olutely never to its Soviet perpetrators Soviet skill in using the The Director of the The resolution, to be sure, also affirms that "no post should be considered the exclusive preserve of any Member State The contradictory language has been seen as an at tempt to meet the concerns of developing countries while protecting the interests of Soviet bloc countries practice indicates that Soviet nationals are permitted to hold on to a position almost on a permanent basis.

Roger Brooks, "The U.N. Department of Pu blic Information: A House of Mirrors Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 332 Secretariat lo A/AC.198/61, p. 4. l1 7 Department of Political and Security Council Affairs. This is the Soviet stronghold in the it provides Secretariat servicesU& the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, which allow it .great political influence in the U.N. apparatus. According to Arkady Schevchenko, the Center against Apartheid, one of its principal divisions, is under KGB guidance Headed by Viacheslav Ustinov The Dag H a mmarskjold Library. Headed by Vladimir Orlov, the library is potentially a usetul Soviet tool. ties give the Soviet Union access to documents throughout the U.S., unobtrusively, and their copy machines offer reproductions at no charge of any materials tha t Moscow finds useful.

Wyzner, the DCS is controlled by Soviet bloc citizens. The Russian translation section, for example, is widely known to U.N. staffers as a significant KGB stronghold. its translators and interpreters come from outside the Soviet Unio n, although there are plenty of non-Soviets who are excellent Russian- speaking translators. fessor Theodore Meron Library loan facili Department of Conference Services. Headed by a Pole, Eugeniusz Headed by Boris Fotin, none of According to New York Univ e rsity law pro it appears that one of the understandings reached between the U.N. and the Soviet Union pertaining to the [programme subsidized by the U.N in Moscow to train translators and interpreters for the U.N was that in the future the U.N. would not r ecruit Russian inter- preters (and translators) except from the Soviet Union. Thus, an exception was established to the salutary policy of the U.N. whereby language staff (which is not subject to the principle of geographical distribution) is recruited on the basis of competitive examinations open to all.12 As a result, the translation section is free of 'Iintrusionll by non-Soviets who might expose the real activities of the Soviet employees. No other nation has such privileges. Indeed, one high- level U. N. official gives this as a clear example of the principle that "what the Soviets want, the Soviets get."

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY An important Soviet advantage in the General Assembly stems from additional votes and representation in committees--a result of t heir being three Soviet Member States of the U.N.--Byelorussia, the Ukraine, and the USSR proper. cates, the Soviet Union gained this advantage by threatening to disrupt and stall preliminary talks leading to the formation of As the historical record indi le Meron, op. cit p. 32. 8 the U.N.13 ships for the Ukraine and Byelorussia by claiming that under "the recently amended Soviet Constitution [these republics] could maintain independent relations with foreign governments. That claim, however, is contrary t o reality, for Byelorussia, the Ukraine and every other Soviet llrepUblic" are anything but inde- pendent. On February 22 1984, Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) revived a 1971 congressional resolution urging the President of the U.S. to seek to end this a n omaly and urge the U.N. to expel the two additional Soviet republics from the U.N The USSR justified requesting the additional member NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs privileges extended to the NGOs through the U.N especially those affiliated with the U .N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).lS of Trade Unions, created partly to counter the efforts of Western unions on behalf of free trade associations, culminated in the WE'TU's gaining Ilconsultative statusi1 in ECOSOC. allows a NGO to be an observer a t all public ECOSOC sessions and submit statements that can be circulated as Council documents. ECOSOC resolution 1296 adopted in 1968 placed 30 organizations in the consultative category In addition, NGOs have consultative status in the DPI--and several h ave been identified as Soviet fronts.16 Among the most active in the U.N. is the World Peace Council, which uses such U.N. organs as the Center against Apartheid to stage conferences. The proceedings of one such, the IIInternational Conference on the Unho l y Alliance between South Africa and Israel cosponsored with the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization in Vienna from July 11-13, 1983, were subsequently seconded or reaffirmed by the General Assembly. This means that the United Nations disseminated t his material using regular U.N. funds and the official U.N. emblem The USSR was responsible to a considerable extent for the MOSCOW'S efforts on behalf of the World Federation Such status Ruth Russell, A History of the U.N. Charter (Washington, D.C Brooki ngs Institution, 1958 pp. 596-5

98. See also John C. Etridge Ukraine and Byelorussia in the U.N. Background and Arguments for and against Expulsion Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service November 5. 1971 The l4 lS Herbert Feis Churchill, Roose velt, Stalin (Princeton, New Jersey Princeton University Press, 1967 p 554 Harold Karan Jacobson, The USSR and the U.N.'s Economic and Social Activi- ties (South Bend, Indiana 22-28.

University of Notre Dame Press, 1963 pp l4 The Afro-Asian People's Solid arity Organization; The Christian Peace Conference; International Association of Democratic Lawyers; International Organization of Journalists; Women's International Democratic Federation World Federation of Democratic Youth; World Federation of Trade Uni ons Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; World Peace Council.

There are probably others. 9 SUPPORT FOR SOVIET-BACKED INSURGENT GROUPS The General Assembly's 1960 resolution on colonialism (1514 XV a project encouraged by the late Soviet lead er Nikita Khrushchev, stated that possessing colonies involves a denial of human rights. This enhanced considerably Soviet prestige in the Third World. With the help of the General Assembly's so-called Committee of 24, which is largely Soviet dominated, l 7 the General Assembly began adopting resolutions that became ever more explicit in approving armed struggle as a means for achieving independence. During the 1970s, moreover, several national liberation movements (NLMs) obtained the legitimacy of "observe r status" in the General Assembly and U.N. specialized agencies. Indeed in 1974, resolu- tion 3280 extended a "blanket invitation to observer status to all NLMs recognized by the Organization of African Unity An indictment of the Soviet Union's use of the U .N. machinery on behalf of NUS comes from Richard H. Shultz, Associate Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplo- macy The Committee [of 241 has been unyieldin in its commit with bo& conventional international practice an d the original tenets of the U.N that Committee's efforts, reflected in financial support as well as extensive publicity for NLMs ment to romote within the U.N. numerous princip 9 es which conflict The same criticism applies to the results of FINANCING THE U.N A FREE RIDE I The USSR is stingy when it comes to the U.N.: in 1981, it paid only 4.21 percent of the costs--voluntary or assessed--of the U.N. compared to the American taxpayers' contribution of about 25 ercent.18 What is worse, according to a congre s sional the House Subcommittees on International Organizations and on International Operations in late 1981, the Soviets at times have made assessed and voluntary contributions to the U.N in soft Soviet rubles, which can be used only inside the Soviet Unio n The U.S of course, pays in hard dollars Thus, states the report the Soviets can claim that they have fulfilled their legal obligation when, in reality, they have burdened the U.N. with a currency it cannot readily spend much greater considering the fact t hat the exchange rate is set by Moscow at far above the ruble's world market rate I staff ana lp ysis entitled U.N. Financial Managementt1 prepared for The burden is actually l7 The Committee's full name is "Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Inde pendence to Colonial Countries and Peoples For a fuller discussion of the Comittee of 24, see Arieh Eilan, The General Assembly Salva ed?, The Heritage Foundation, 1984.

Can it Be 11 c 4 I 10 The question of Soviet default on nearly $200 million for U.N. expenses, primarily for peacekeeping, has had a long history. In 1960, a U.N. Committee of Experts to Review the Activities and Organization of the Secretariat presented a proposal by a Sovie t expert which allowed any state to opt out of obligations it did not wish to assume. l9 While this was not adopted, Moscow began applying it to itself in 1963 when it refused payment for some budgetary accounts. Today, the Soviet Union still maintains tha t it is not required to contribute to peacekeeping operations-and has in fact contributed very little to total peacekeeping expense.

CONCLUSION The Soviet manipulation of U.N. rules runs counter in many cases to the spirit of the U.N. Charter. solely MOSCOW'S. Washington is at fault for making so little effort to require that the letter and spirit of U.N. rules be respected. There are a number of steps available to the U.S. that at least might modify Soviet behavior But the blame is not Among them The U.S. could seek to curtail the travel privileges of U.N. personnel from countries on the State Department's "restrictedtf list-which incl udes the USSR.

The U.S. could seek to limit the size of the three Soviet Missions to the U.N. in New York.

The U.S. could demand that the membership of the USSR in the U.N. be restricted to one seat, instead of the current three, thus bringin? it in line with Soviet diplomatic practice elsewhere in the world.

The U.S. could freeze its contribution to the U.N. until the practice of secondment, or fixed-term appointments, applies to less than one-third of the total Soviet staff.2L0 The FBI should be given a dditional funds for surveillance of Soviets connected with the U.N. Perhaps even more important, however, the FBI should coordinate its efforts with other intelligence services (including the New York l9 Ruth B. Russell, The United Nations and United Stat es Security Policy Washington, D. C incisive discussion of the history of Soviet default, see pp. 333-343.

In a report presented to the General Assembly in 1965, the Secretary a General explained that the practice of maintaining the proportion of staff ser ving on career appointments to those serving on fixed-term ap pointments at about 3 to 1 was designed to balance considerations of effi ciency of operation A/5841, 20 GAOR, Annexes, Agenda Item 84, at 3 2' 11 Police Department's intelligence section) to p ool infor- mation related to Soviet U.N. personnel and Soviet activi- ties through the U.N. FBI performance, moreover, should be monitored through the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board or some other appropriate administrative body.

The U.S. should curtai l the privileges of nongovernmental organizations NGOs) in the U.N. The proportion of the U.S. contribution should be withheld for all NGO sponsored conferences, including U.N. dissemination of their pro- ceedings through the Department of Public Informat i on o The U.S. should seek to place Americans at high levels on some of the key Soviet-infiltrated U.N. departments, such as Personnel, Conference Services, Office of Legal Affairs, and Department of Public Information. The U.S. should also seek to replace the Soviet head of the U.N. library with an American o o Congress should extend P.L. 98/164, Section 114, which provides that the U.S. withhold its proportion of funds for U.N. programs that help promote the South West African People's Organization and th e Palestine Liberation -0rgani- zation, to include the rest of the "national liberation movements recognized by the U.N all of which provide useful tools for Soviet propaganda and insurgency proportion of its U.N. contribution as does the Soviet Union. the U.S which pays twice as much to the U.N. in assessed contributions, should withhold 400 million until the Soviet Union pays o The U.S. should demand that the U.N. accept Soviet pay- ments only in convertible currency, thus excluding rubles o The U.S. shou l d explore the possibility of moving the U.N. headquarters out of New York and even from the U.S.--possibly to Vienna, or on a rotating international basis o Congress should recommend that the U.S. withhold the same Since the USSR is in arrears nearly $200 million Such measures would indicate that the U.S. is not overlooking Soviet misuse of U.N. rules. Unless it thus demonstrates its serious intent in the U.N the U.S. stands to lose more than it gains from participation in the U.N.

Juliana Geran Pilon, Ph.D. Senior Policy Analyst


Juliana Geran

Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies