H.W.King, FCO, to FCO Planning Staff, 1969

H.W.King, UN Department, FCO, to Mr Powell, FCO Planning Staff, 16 October 1969

“The overwhelming consensus of advice of posts in countries where we have significant UK interests…is that our attitude at the UN, at least on economic and social issues…has little relevance to our bilateral relations or to our influence with governments…In default of any evidence to the contrary, our assumption should be that the UN will continue to matter to us as little as it does now, as least so far as furthering our bilateral policies is concerned… The more we speak of ‘full support for the UN’ and of our ‘general interest in increasing the authority and prestige of the UN’ (paragraph 27), the more do we place ourselves in positions at the UN which are in conflict with our own practical interests – and the more do we sound hypocritical as we try to bridge these conflicts. We give up some of our freedom in pursuing our interests, without gaining any useful reputation for so doing… We conclude that it is a fallacy to assume that the UN is an organisation which we can hope to use, across the board, to promote our interests, and that we should recognise that the UN has its own, rather perverse nature, and that it is only occasionally, and in certain fields, that we can profitably try to use it, when the interests or inclinations of the majority of the States members happen to coincide more or less with our own”.

National Archives: FCO 49/250