Statement on the Withholding of United States Funds From the Law of the Sea Preparatory Commission

December 30, 1982

On December 3 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that would, among other things, finance the Preparatory Commission under the Law of the Sea treaty from the regular U.N. budget.

My administration has fought hard to uphold fiscal responsibility in the United Nations system and, in this case, consistently opposed this financing scheme. It is not a proper expense of the United Nations within the meaning of its own Charter, as the Law of the Sea Preparatory Commission is legally independent of and distinct from the U.N. It is not a U.N. subsidiary organ and not answerable to that body. Membership in the U.N. does not obligate a member to finance or otherwise support this Law of the Sea organization.

Moreover, these funds are destined to finance the very aspects of the Law of the Sea treaty that are unacceptable to the United States and that have resulted in our decision, as I announced on July 9, 1982, not to sign that treaty. The Preparatory Commission is called upon to develop rules and regulations for the seabed mining regime under the treaty. It has no authority to change the damaging provisions and precedents in that part of the treaty. For that reason, the United States is not participating in the Commission.

My administration has conducted a review of the financing scheme for this Commission. That review has confirmed that it is an improper assessment under the U.N. Charter that is not legally binding upon members. It is also adverse to the interests of the United States. While the United States normally pays 25 percent of the regular U.N. budget, the United States is opposed to improper assessments and is determined to resist such abuses of the U.N. budget.

In this light, I have decided that the United States will withhold its pro rata share of the cost to the United Nations budget of funding the Preparatory Commission.