240. Letter From the Acting Secretary of State (Ingersoll) to the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (Morgan)1 2

Dear Mr. Chairman:

This is to follow up on my letter of June 27, in which I stated our intention to keep the Committee informed concerning human rights matters, both generally with respect to Section 32 of the Foreign Assistance Act and specifically in regard to Korea.

First, I should reaffirm the general observation in that letter regarding our obligation to promote respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the complexities of implementation and my view that cutting off assistance is not necessarily the most effective and appropriate response to deter violations.

In my earlier letter, I informed you that we had sent a cable to our Embassies in East Asian aid-recipient countries requesting them to transmit the text of section 32 to the governments of those countries and explain the seriousness with which we regard this section. A similar cable has now gone to our Embassies in aid-recipient countries in the other geographic areas.

We have not yet received reports from all posts. However the pertinent East Asian posts inform us that Foreign Ministry officials have in each case been given a copy of section 32 with background explanation. The reactions of the government officials to whom the approaches were made, of course, were preliminary and varied. However, the pattern of responses indicates a clear awareness of our concern.

Most host governments expressed appreciation for this notification, and, in some instances, requested additional information. In several cases, the difficulty of defining the term “political prisoners” was cited, a difficulty which earlier had been noted in Congressional debate on this legislation.

[Page 2]

With specific reference to Korea, with respect to which I promised in my June 27 letter to keep you informed, we have cabled our Embassy posing very specific questions about the recent trials, requesting as much information as may be available. As you may know, these trials are not conducted in open session, so that Embassy officers have been unable to attend. However, we expect to have received factual information prior to the hearing which Mr. Fraser plans to conduct on July 30 on human rights in Korea.

At this point, our experience under section 32 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1973 permits us to conclude that it would be wise, at least provisionally, to ensure that reporting and review features such as are growing up under that section are a continuing and permanent part of our fact finding and decision making processes with respect to all countries. To this end through further instruction we will meld the special section 32 requirements of aid recipients with the general human rights requirements affecting all countries.

We propose to use the facts collected and our evaluations of them to assure that human rights considerations are taken into account in the formulation of our foreign policy including our assistance programs. I am asking that early next year the geographic bureaus concerned report to me on significant human rights developments, by country and by important international bodies, with their recommendations for any desirable modifications of policy, new steps or new procedures. By then we will have received the second annual post reports and will have the benefit of another year’s experience with the United Nations and Inter-American Human Rights Commissions. Such bureau reports should be an important indication of how we are doing at the international level in seeking to discharge our obligation to promote respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We recognize that the foregoing involves a very considerable amount of time and effort. I realize that some additional or rearranged manpower is required. We have now moved ahead in all geographic bureaus with the designation of a human rights officer. In addition to these officers and those in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser who deal with human rights. I plan to have an officer in my own office who can advise me regarding overall [Page 3] progress in these matters and ensure full consideration of human rights factors in decision making. For the present, I have asked the Acting Legal Advisor to help me in this way.

As I said in my June 27 letter, I intend to continue to keep the Committee informed concerning our thoughts and progress with respect to section 32 and human rights generally, and specifically with respect to Korea. I hope this update of my earlier letter will be helpful to the Committee.

With best regards,


Robert S. Ingersoll
Acting Secretary
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P740092–1258. No classification marking. Drafted by Runyon. Concurred in by Blake, Gardiner; Ladd; Walker; Lister; Goott, Searing, and Grove. The following telegrams, all Department of State to selected posts, referred to in Ingersoll’s letter are available at P740092–1263 through P740092–1272—telegram 150955, July 12; telegram 140309, June 28; and telegram 135799, June 24.
  2. Ingersoll updated Committee members on Department of State activities in the field of human rights.