107. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Diplomatic Missions in the American Republics1

1387. Our Circular 13052 and related messages re Human Rights Statute. Considerations in US statement of April 63 have led Dept decide that objectionable features of Statute should be opposed strongly in order prevent development of situation which US believes would be basically harmful inter-American relations. Accordingly, Dept believes that US position should be presented forthrightly to OAS governments in hope that majority will concur US view that it would be unfortunate for Commission to start out without support of an important segment of OAS countries. FYI Dept informed Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are opposed giving Human Rights Commission authority consider specific cases. End FYI.

In article by article vote in COAS, US intends vote against articles dealing with consideration of individual cases, specifically second sentence paragraph (c) and all of paragraph (f) of Article 11 and Articles [Page 355]13 through 23. If objectionable articles eliminated US will vote for Statute. If these articles approved US will vote against Statute as whole.

Dept believes Statute without objectionable articles would still permit Inter-American Commission on Human Rights perform useful functions in promoting respect for human rights; for example, following kinds of activity would be possible:

Drafting model legislation.
Making studies and reports of general nature on such subjects as effective judiciary procedure (fair trial and arbitrary arrest), separation of powers, indefinite perpetuation in power and free elections.
Encouraging direct technical assistance.
Sponsoring symposia and seminars.
Arranging fellowships.
Reviewing annual reports from member governments.
Issuing publications.
Advising other organs OAS on human rights.

Favorable public reaction to recent report of Inter-American Peace Committee on human rights and international tensions (reference Dept’s CA–8562 of April 15)4 illustrates value of general studies and reports such as Human Rights Commission would undertake.

Inasmuch as subject on agenda May 11 COAS meeting you should take up foregoing urgently with FonOff bearing in mind previous approaches this subject and express hope that Government will join US in COAS voting as indicated above, or at least abstain on mentioned articles. Embassies in Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela in going to FonOff should be aware representatives in COAS of these countries have been most positive promoters this Statute.

Cable reaction soonest.

Code Room: Please add to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Santiago:

In view pressure of time Dept decided US must act whether or not others accompany us. Would still welcome similar approach by Government to which accredited. In any case hope Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay will join US in voting as indicated above including vote against Statute as whole if objectionable articles approved.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 371.707/5–560. Official Use Only. Drafted by Monsma, Reed, and Dreier and signed for Herter by Rubottom. Sent for action to all U.S. diplomatic missions in the American Republics except Ciudad Trujillo, Havana, and Mexico City, where it was repeated for information.
  2. Circular telegram 1305, April 19, sent to all U.S. diplomatic missions in the American Republics, requested addressees to bring to the attention of the foreign office the statement read by Dreier in the OAS Council on April 6, concerning the proposed statute for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (ibid., 371.707/4–1960)
  3. Dreier reported his statement of April 6 before the OAS Council on the second draft statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as follows: “The United States representative read a statement regarding the position of the United States Government in this matter. Pointing to United States sympathy for the movement to enlist the support of the OAS in furthering respect for human rights, he regretted to state, however, that the United States could not approve the draft Statute in its present form. It could accept those articles which give the Commission functions with respect to the promotion of human rights, but it could not approve those articles giving the Commission authority to review individual cases, which would, in the United States view, involve the Commission directly in the internal affairs of member governments, and would create particularly difficult legal and constitutional problems for the United States. Powers of this sort, the United States believed, should not be granted to an international body simply by the approval of a statute by the OAS Council, but should be dealt with in a treaty ratifiable in accordance with constitutional processes. The Commission should have the task only of furthering respect for human rights, through reports and recommendations of a general nature, the United States representative suggested.” (Despatch 505 from the U.S. Representative–COAS, April 18; ibid., 371.0521/4–1860) For text of Dreier’s statement before the OAS Council on April 6, see Consejo de la Organización de los Estados Americanos, Acta de la Sessión Ordinaria Celebrada el 6 de Abril 1960 (Washington, 1960), pp. 47–50.
  4. CA–8562 circulated to all U.S. diplomatic missions in the American Republics the Spanish text of the Special Report on the Relationship between Violations of Human Rights or the Nonexercise of Representative Democracy and the Political Tensions That Affect the Peace of the Hemisphere, approved by the Inter-American Peace Committee on April 14. (Department of State, Central Files, 371.041/4–1560) See Document 105.