41. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2
- OAS General Assembly Agenda Item on Terrorism and Kidnapping
In response to Mrs. Davis’ request of June 22, I enclose a copy of the Issues Paper for the Secretary of State prepared on this subject. The question continues to be under informal discussion among certain OAS Representatives in Washington as well as with Foreign Ministries, but a consensus has yet to develop on the content of a resolution to be adopted by the General Assembly.
In addition to the Argentine draft and the U.S. suggestions summarized in the attached memorandum, the Mexican Representative late last week gave us what he termed a “skeleton” draft. This, in effect, does little more than the Permanent Council resolution, in that its operative paragraphs simply (1) reaffirm human rights principles; (2) condemn acts of violence, including acts of terrorism, especially kidnapping and extortion; and (3) recommend that the Inter-American Juridical Committee and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submit recommendations to the next session of the General Assembly on the aspects of the problem that can be subject to international action. Additionally, however, the Mexican Representative-expressed general agreement with our proposal on the preparation of an international instrument [Page 2] recognizing terrorist acts against representatives of foreign states as international crimes. There are several aspects of the Argentine draft that Mexico cannot accept, including the identification of terrorist acts as common crimes and the mention of asylum and extradition.
We have just received a copy of a Brazilian draft resolution, whose operative paragraphs: (1) recommend that member states take adequate domestic measures with respect to crimes of terrorism and kidnapping, including appropriate definition under their penal laws; (2) urge member governments bilaterally and multilaterally to exchange information and coordinate action; (3) request the Inter-American Juridical Committee (IAJC) to commence within 30 days and complete in 60 days thereafter a draft international instrument dealing with the objective of this resolution; (4) recommend that the IAJC in its proposal take account of the need to adjust the practice of asylum and extradition so as not to benefit the perpetrators of such crimes, which should be characterized as international crimes and crimes against humanity; (5) recommend that the Permanent Council urgently convoke a special session of the OAS General Assembly to examine and approve the IAJC proposal as soon as it is completed. (The draft resolution does not specifically mention terrorist crimes against representatives of foreign states, which, of course, is an important point as far as we are concerned.)
We have a number of returns from our circular telegram explaining the Argentine proposal and our suggestions. These preliminary reactions indicate that: Uruguay reacts favorably to our suggestions for strengthening the Argentine draft; Venezuela is inclined to support the Argentine draft but agrees with us that the international aspects of the problem should be strengthened; Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Paraguay are in general agreement that the Argentine draft needs strengthening; Colombia in principle supports the Argentine draft but will study other suggestions, including ours; Mexico will study our suggestions, and is grateful of our desire to avoid any adverse reflection on Mexico’s actions in receiving “ransomees”; Barbados agrees “something must be done” collectively; Guatemala tends to favor [Page 3] concentrating on moral condemnation, but will defer to others to take the initiative, as will Jamaica for different reasons; Bolivia, Peru and Chile are so far non-committal but will study our suggestions.
There seems to be some difference of opinion between those who advocate unanimity even at the sacrifice of a strong resolution, and those who advocate the reverse.
In our case, we are prepared to make some adjustments in our own proposals as we learn more of the positions of other members. So far, in our conversations, we have found considerable agreement with our desire not to limit the options available in seeking the release of kidnapped diplomats (or other persons).
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, OAS 3. Confidential. Drafted by Richard A. Poole (ARA/USOAS/EO), cleared by Pedersen, OAS Ambassador Jova, Meyer, and Feldman. Melvyn Lwitsky signed for Eliot.↩
- The Department of State updated, at Kissinger’s request, its action on a terrorism and kidnapping agenda item at the Organization of American States.↩