Charles Lichenstein

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Charles Mark Lichenstein (September 20, 1926 – August 22, 2002) was the American alternate representative for special political affairs to the United Nations, the second highest ranking American diplomat at the United Nations, from 1981 to 1984.[1] Lichenstein is best remembered for controversial comments he made welcoming the possibility of relocating the United Nations headquarters outside of the United States.


Lichenstein was staff assistant to Robert Finch during the Nixon administration,[2] and an assistant to Dean Burch during the Ford administration.[3]

From 1975 to 1979, Lichenstein was senior vice president of PBS.[4]

In 1981, Lichenstein was appointed by Ronald Reagan as the American alternate representative for special political affairs to the United Nations.

Comments regarding the UN following the KAL shootdown[edit]

Lichenstein is best remembered for comments he made following the Soviet shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, after which the states of New York and New Jersey denied Soviet Aircraft permission to land, in violation of the United Nations Charter that requires the host nation to allow all member countries access to the UN.

The United States [Federal Government], which opposed the [New York and New Jersey] legislation, offered the Soviet Union landing rights at a military base so its foreign minister, Andrei A. Gromyko, could fly in for the General Assembly meeting. But the Soviets refused. When the United Nations committee met to review the situation, the Soviet delegate, Igor I. Yakovlev, said the ban on landing "raises the question of whether the United Nations should be in the United States." A furious Mr. Lichenstein replied that if member states felt "they are not being treated with the hostly consideration that is their due," they should consider "removing themselves and this organization from the soil of the United States. We will put no impediment in your way," he continued, "The members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations will be down at the dockside waving you a fond farewell as you sail off into the sunset."[4]


  1. ^ Reagan Library transcript of the nomination. February 3, 1981.
  2. ^ Robert H. Finch. Nixon Presidential Library
  3. ^ Dean Burch - Counsellor to the President for Political Affairs: Files, 1974. Ford Presidential Library.
  4. ^ a b Charles M. Lichenstein, 75, American Envoy at the U.N. The New York Times Obituary, August 22, 2002