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Although this Briefing Document contains a small sample of UFO cases, the global nature of the phenomenon is shown by its geographical distribution. The cases studied include: Germany (foo fighters), Scandinavia (ghost rockets), several regions of the United States (Alaska, Washington, Washington, D.C., Texas, New Mexico, northern tier near Canadian border), England (Suffolk), Canada (Manitoba), Brazil, Spain (Canary Islands), Iran, France, Belgium and Russia. UFO cases can be easily found for the rest of the world.

While the air forces (and in some cases other military, intelligence, space, and/or scientific agencies) in these countries have dealt with the UFO problem at one time or another, there is little evidence of any long-standing open international cooperation effort. However, some examples of bilateral, regional and global approaches have been found.

I. 1975: Bilateral: USA-USSR

A curious clause about "unidentified objects" exists in an Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear War between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics. The Agreement was part of the policy of detente during the Nixon and early Brezhnev administrations. It was signed on September 30, 1971 by Secretary of State, William Rogers, and Foreign Minister, Andrei Gromyko.

The Agreement has nine articles on issues such as informing each other "against the accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons under its control," notification in advance of missile launches that go beyond the national territory of each country, and other measures of cooperation in order to avert "the risk of outbreak of nuclear war." Article 3 reads:

"The Parties undertake to notify each other immediately in the event of detection by missile warning systems of unidentified objects [emphasis added], or in the event of signs of interference with these systems or with related communications facilities, if such occurrences could create a risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the two countries."153

The interpretation of Article 3 as including the possibility of UFO incursions seems inescapable. It is indeed reassuring in view of the cases where UFOs hovered over military facilities with nuclear weapons (SAC bases in USA, NATO bases in England, missile bases in Russia). On the other hand, attorney Robert Bletchman has pointed out that "unidentified objects" (UOs) include non-UFO situations as well (such as an accidental overflight by a civilian aircraft or a terrorist attack), but in the final analysis,UOs do include UFOs. What degree of cooperation about UOs/UFOs existed between the USA and USSR (and currently with Russia), is hard to say, but Article 9 stated: "This Agreement shall be of unlimited duration."

II. 1977-78: Global: United Nations

In the mid-1970s, the Prime Minister of the new member state of Grenada, Sir Eric Gairy, began a lobbying initiative to incorporate the UFO problem in the United Nations agenda. Prime Minister Gairy and UN Ambassador Wellington Friday raised the UFO issue at a meeting of the thirty-second General Assembly Special Political Committee on November 28, 1977. Grenada was proposing 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 (UFOs) and related phenomena." 154

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 further stated that:

"3. The General Assembly requests the Secretary-General to transmit the text of the draft resolution, together with the above-mentioned statements, to Member States and to interested specialized agencies, so that they may communicate their views to the Secretary-General."155

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."156  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 Drs. Allen Hynek and Jacques Vallee, and a first-hand witness account by Lt. Col. Lawrence Coyne of the U.S. Army (Reserve) on the famous 1973 UFO-helicopter near collision case in Ohio (see Quotations, section on Military/Intelligence). A letter of endorsement by astronaut Gordon Cooper, who was then Vice-President of Research & Development of Walt Disney Enterprises, was also read into the record (see Quotations, section on Astronauts).

At the 87th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 19, 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, coordinating 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."

Point 4 finally stated that the Outer Space Committee would permit Grenada "to present its views" in 1979 and the Committee's deliberation would be included in its report to the thirty-fourth General Assembly. The Grenada initiative was gradually opening the door to UFO cooperative international investigation, but unfortunately the effort came to an abrupt halt when the Gairy government was overthrown by a Marxist revolution led by Maurice Bishop. 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.

III. 1990-93: Regional: European Parliament

As a result of all the activity registered during the UFO wave in Belgium, the European deputy, Mr. Di Rupo, who served as Minister of Education for Wallonia (the French-speaking region of Belgium where the wave occurred), proposed a motion in 1990 to set up a "European UFO Observation Center" under the aegis of the Committee on Energy, Research and Technology (CERT). The Di Rupo motion proposed that this Center "should collect together the isolated observations made by members of the public and by military and scientific institutions and organize programmes of scientific observation." 158

The matter was eventually entrusted to another Eurodeputy, Professor Tullio Regge, an Italian member of the European Parliament with a Ph.D. in physics, who released a "Draft Report" on August 17, 1993. Professor Regge sought the advice of Jean-Jacques Velasco, who heads SEPRA (Service for Assessment of Atmospheric Re-entry Phenomena) at the French National Center for Space Research (CNES) in Toulouse, as the only official European organization with experience in UFO investigations. The section titled "Motion for a Resolution" further stated that:

"The European Parliament... proposed that SEPRA be regarded as a responsible partner of the EC [European Community] so far as UFOs are concerned and that it be given a statute enabling it to carry out inquiries throughout the Community's territory. Any additional costs which might arise as a result of SEPRA's increased role must be covered by agreements between the French government and the other EC Member States or, where necessary and with the approval of the governments involved, directly between SEPRA and other EC research institutes or organizations."159

The section titled "Explanatory Statement" in Regge's report, consisted of a 7-page discussion of the UFO subject covering the following scientific, sociological and political items:

  1. "Military secrets;

  2. Alien civilizations;

  3. Supertechnologies;

  4. The role of the mass media;

  5. Various explanations;

  6. Link between show business and sightings;

  7. Analogy with group religious experiences;

  8. The recent spate of sightings in Belgium;

  9. Unknown atmospheric phenomena;

  10. Interviews with witnesses;

  11. Air forces in the EC;

  12. Conclusions."

The tone of the report was very cautious and did not endorse the extraterrestrial hypothesis. However, the report did recognize that a small percentage of UFO cases remain unexplained and warrant further scientific attention. The section on "Various explanations" concluded:

"A second conclusion is that the few remaining inexplicable sightings (about 4%) must for the time being be regarded as UFOs (unidentified flying objects) in the literal sense of the term. The lack, perhaps temporary or accidental, of an explanation in no way allow us to regard a sighting as certain proof or even an indication that aliens exist, with technological capabilities vastly superior to our own. However, scientists still have a duty to continue researching into these events in order to arrive at a satisfactory explan- ation."160

Regge's final conclusion was to propose that SEPRA expand its UFO activities to cover all the EC Member States:

"It might be worthwhile, however, setting up a central office to compile and collate information concerning UFOs throughout the EC. Such an office could help, first and foremost, to stem the flood of uncontrolled rumors that confuse the public and become a point of reference when, as very frequently happens, sightings are reported... Lastly, the office could have an invaluable role to play in exploring the existence and nature of rare meteorological phenomena and could draw on the support of existing organizations. Given that SEPRA has acquired considerable experience in this field, the logical and economical solution would be to assign it a Community-wide role and Community status, thereby enabling it to conduct investigations and disseminate information through the EC."161

Unfortunately, the European Parliament did not have the necessary votes to implement and fund Professor Regge's recommendations and so the matter lies essentially dormant for the time being. As with the General Assembly Decision 33/426, however, the Regge motion for a European UFO Center linked to SEPRA remains as a potentially useful framework should the political will change in the future.



153. United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, Volume 22, Part 2, 1971, "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Measures to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear War Outbreak."

154. United Nations Office of Public Information, "Special Political Committee Begins Debate on UFO Item," November 28, 1977.

155. United Nations General Assembly, Thirty-third session, Agenda item 126, "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," Report of the Secretary-General, October 6, 1978.

156. Ibid.

157. United Nations General Assembly, Thirty-third Session, "Decisions adopted on the reports of the Special Political Committee."

158. European Parliament, "Draft Report of the Committee on Energy, Research and Technology on the proposal to set up a European centre for sightings of unidentified flying objects (B3-1990/90)," Rapporteur: Mr. Tullio Regge, August 17, 1993.

159. Ibid.

160. Ibid.

162. Ibid.