[At the Sixth World UFO Symposium held in, and hosted by, the Republic of San Marino in early April, 1998, delegates from fourteen nations drafted a charter requesting that the government of San Marino, as a U.N. member state, undertake to establish an official UFO research effort at the United Nations. This would actually mean reviving an initiative begun in 1977 by the nation of Grenada, an effort that failed partly because of the untimely Marxist overthrow of the Grenada government.
Internationally respected ufologist and journalist Antonio Huneeus presented a paper at the San Marino UFO Symposium which outlined the history of UFO initiatives at the United Nations. CNI News is grateful to Antonio Huneeus for allowing excerpts from his paper to be reproduced here. Following his text is the San Marino Charter.]
Copyright (c) 1998 by Antonio Huneeus
Before chronicling the history of UFO initiatives at the UN, I want to insert a personal note. Although I have never worked for the UN, several members of my immediate family have. My late father, the Chilean Ambassador Sergio Huneeus Lavin, was a UN official in the late '40s and early '50s (that is the reason I was born in New York City and not Chile), serving in the first UN mission to Kashmir, India. My elder brother Jorge served with the Chilean Mission at the UN in the late '60s, [and] my sister Paz has worked in various posts at UN Headquarters for the last ten years.
The very first UFO event that I attended was the famous UFO Hearing before the UN's Special Political Committee on October 28, 1978, convened by the government of Grenada. It was there that I met for the first time Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallee and others. We shall discuss the Grenada initiative later in this paper.
U Thant was the first [U.N.] Secretary-General to express an interest in the subject [of UFOs]. News of it was published on June 27, 1966 in Drew Pearson's highly influential syndicated newspaper column. Under the title of "U Thant and UFO's," Pearson and his assistant Jack Anderson wrote: "In the middle of the Near East crisis, UN Secretary General Thant took time to do a very significant thing. He arranged to have one of the top advocates of the theory that flying saucers -- UFOs -- are from another planet, speak before the Outer Space Affairs Committee of the UN." The columnists added: "Interesting fact is that U Thant has confided to friends that he considers UFOs the most important problem facing the UN next to the war in Vietnam."
The lecture to the Outer Space Affairs Committee mentioned in the column was delivered on June 7, 1967 by the late Dr. James E. McDonald, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Arizona. McDonald noted that, "because of the global nature of the phenomenon, it immediately falls into areas where the United Nations Organizations must accept responsibility for encouraging immediate escalation of scientific examination of the problem."
On June 18,  U Thant met privately with Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was still then scientific advisor to the US Air Force's Project Blue Book, and author John Fuller. In his landmark book "The UFO Experience," Hynek discussed briefly the meeting, saying that U Thant expressed "his strong interest in the UFO problem. During an hour-long discussion with us he pointed out the similar concern that had been expressed to him by General Assembly members from several countries. He told us that he was sympathetic to UN action but that UN action would have to be initiated by a member nation."
The newly independent Caribbean island of Grenada, the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere, became that nation in the 1970s. Grenada gained independence from Great Britain in 1974 and its first Prime Minister was sir Eric Gairy, an eccentric politician who first lobbied about UFOs to the Organization of American States (OAS). When this failed, his strategy shifted to the United Nations General Assembly. Gairy recruited the assistance of several prominent ufologists including Leonard Stringfield and Dr. Hynek.
On November 28, 1977, the UFO issue was raised officially by Prime Minister Gairy and UN Ambassador Wellington Friday at a meeting of the Thirty-second General Assembly Special Political Committee. Grenada was proposing the "establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, co-ordinating and disseminating the results of research into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and related phenomena."
Grenada made further statements on November 30 and December 6, 1977. As a result of this effort, at the 101st plenary meeting on December 13, 1977, the General Assembly adopted Decision 32/424, which acknowledged "the draft resolution submitted by Grenada" and "requests the Secretary-General to transmit the text of the draft resolution... to Member States and to interested specialized agencies, so that they may communicate their views to the Secretary-General."
Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim duly forwarded "Decision 32/424" to the Member States by a "note verbale" on March 13, 1978. However, only three governments responded (India, Luxembourg and Seychelles) and only two specialized agencies (International Civil Aviation Organization and UNESCO) replied with a flat "no comments to offer." Of the three countries, only Seychelles supported Grenada's motion. India rejected it, although it left open the possibility of the UN organizing "a discussion on the question" and having scientists from the Outer Space Group "study and analyse such data on the question of unidentified flying objects... and make recommendations for further action."
Not deterred, Grenada launched a new offensive during the thirty-third General Assembly. A group of recognized experts was brought to testify before a Hearing of the Special Political Committee on November 27, 1978. Besides Sir Eric Gairy and Wellington Friday, the Hearing included testimony by Dr. Hynek, Jacques Vallee, Stanton Friedman, and a first-hand witness account by Lt. Col. Lawrence Coyne of the US Army (Reserve) on the famous October 18, 1973 UFO-helicopter near-collision case in Ohio. A montage of UFO photos and film clips compiled by the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) was also shown. Finally, a letter of endorsement by astronaut Gordon Cooper, who was then vice-president of Research & Development of Walt Disney Enterprises, was read into the record.
At the 87th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 18, 1978, Decision 33/426 was adopted with the same heading to the previous Decision 32/424 cited above, "Establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, co-ordinating and disseminating the results of research into unidentified flying objects and related phenomena." The "consensus text" informed in its Point 1 that the General Assembly had "taken note" of the "draft resolutions submitted by Grenada" and that:
"2. The General Assembly invites interested Member States to take appropriate steps to coordinate on a national level scientific research and investigation into extraterrestrial life, including unidentified flying objects, and to inform the Secretary-General of the observations, research and evaluation of such activities.
"3. The General Assembly requests the Secretary-General to transmit the statements of the delegation of Grenada and the relevant documentation to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, so that it may consider them at its session in 1979."
The Grenada initiative was gradually opening the door to UFOs, but unfortunately, the effort came to an abrupt halt when the Gairy government was overthrown by a Marxist revolution led by Maurice Bishop in March 1979. The new government launched a publicity campaign to discredit Gairy as a believer in voodoo and flying saucers. Decision 33/426 was never implemented, but its mere existence provides a useful framework for any future initiative on the matter.
[U.S.] Department of State documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act show that, while not enthusiastic about the Grenada UFO resolution, State was not totally opposed to it. A "draft US position" titled, "Agenda Item -- UN Agency for UFO's" was written by Irwin M. Pikus of the State Dept.'s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, on August 29, 1977. He first outlines Grenada's wishes: "In particular, Grenada wants... the establishment of a UN agency for UFO's..."
Pikus then proceeds with the substantive paragraph about the US position: "The US has no objection to inclusion of these matters on the agenda. The US has conducted extensive studies of this subject in years past and these studies have been inconclusive. While the results of past studies have been and will continue to be made available, the US has no interest in participating actively in further studies. The budgetary implications of the Grenada proposals should be examined. The US has no objection to the allocation of nominal sums to these proposals."
No official UFO-related action has taken place since 1979. After the violent collapse of the Gairy regime followed with the public discrediting campaign of his personality, no head of state has brought back the UFO issue to the General Assembly.
In 1998, for the first time in 20 years, there is a possibility that the Republic of San Marino, a full Member State since 1992, will reactive the dormant General Assembly Thirty-third Session Decision 33/426 of December 18, 1978: "Establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, co-ordinating and disseminating the results of research into unidentified flying objects and related phenomena."
Let's not be naive about this, however. Even if San Marino, which has sponsored UFO Symposia for the past six years, agrees to take the next step and reactivate Decision 33/426, there will be enormous obstacles ahead. I don't think that I will offend anybody if I say that, like Grenada, San Marino is not a political or military power. But unlike Grenada, which was only a 3-year old nation when it launched its UFO initiative, San Marino is the oldest continuous republic in the world, so it has seniority and culture.
Let's hope then that in the future, the UFO issue will be more than a mere footnote in the history of the United Nations. The subject belongs there naturally, but we all have to work hard to make it a reality.
[end of Huneeus text]
Following is the English translation of the San Marino Charter, drafted during the Sixth World UFO Symposium in San Marino, signed by the attending delegates (including CNI News editor Michael Lindemann) and duly forwarded to the Government of San Marino for consideration. As of mid-May, 1998, CNI News has not learned of any official response from the government of San Marino. The text (original in Italian) reads:
SAN MARINO CHARTER
Considering the positive results of our efforts during the last six years due to the hospitality and far-sightedness of the San Marino Government;
We, the UFO researchers, representing our countries at the 6th World UFO Symposium held from 3 to 5 April, 1998, in San Marino, are in agreement concerning this assertions:
1) Reports of sightings of unidentified flying objects of possible non-terrestrial technological nature have been occurring globally for at least half a century.
2) The interest of the general public for the subject is growing significantly throughout the world.
3) An open and international civilian interdisciplinary scientific study of this phenomenon is necessary.
Therefore, we request that the Chiefs of State and the Government of the Republic of San Marino present to the United Nations a motion urging the "Establishment of an Agency or a Department of the United Nations for undertaking, coordinating and disseminating the results of research into unidentified flying objects and related phenomena" as suggested by Decision 33/426 adopted at the 87th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 18th, 1978, as a result of the action of the Grenada delegation, and never implemented.
This could involve the San Marino International Permanent UFO Documentation Centre established in 1994 and an International Committee for UFO Research as proposed by the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Transport. The participants in the 6th World UFO Symposium in San Marino are available to give testimony, documentary evidence and any other support that might be requested through the Symposium Coordinator.
[signed by international delegates of 14 nations to the 6th World UFO Symposium]
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