253. Telegram 182813 From the Department of State to All Posts1 2


  • Human Rights: Use of 12320 Reports and Promotion Human Rights
Reports forwarded in response to State 12320 have been indispensable to review of human rights situations required by Section 502b of FAA ′61 and Section 32 FAA ′73. They will continue to be relied on in further such studies and in a broader look at things US might do for promotion of human rights.
Such reports also provide basis for factual reporting now being readied for Congress in connection with FAA 1975 presentation. An important element in that presentation is explanation efforts we make, quite apart from the question of security assistance levels, to promote and protect human rights. Having looked across the board at experience to date, we believe our efforts in these areas are worthy of particular mention. While many posts are already doing these things, Department now states following guidance so that appropriate general application may be assured:
Begin underline educational and cultural exchange end underline. Programs clearly supportive of human rights and fully in keeping purposes of Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 as amended are already operative reselecting many countries and areas, for example, Southern Africa and Spain. Department requests all posts at this time to review plans for FY 76 and 77 with view to building in significant elements to promote human rights. (In countries with strong traditions of respect for human rights, emphasis should be on cooperation in mutual promotion of human rights through international organizations and with respect to violations elsewhere). Within overall program priorities, such elements might include exchanges at university level and in legal and para-legal communities. Exchange would (a) strengthen individual capacities in teaching or practice in human rights field (b) strengthen local institutions engaged in teaching, research or practical work (e.g. judiciary, public defenders, etc.) and (c) include wide range of participants in activities essential to promotion of human rights: legislators, newspaper correspondents and editors, leading artists and cultural figures, responsible officials of private national and international organizations whether religious, lay, legal, educational or investigatory (e.g. international commission of jurists), where participants are known to be concerned and likely to contribute and to benefit. Concern of course includes discrimination contrary Charter Article 55.
Begin underline informal official and unofficial contacts end underline. Posts are generally fully aware and active in this area. However, it should be useful, even for those most sensitive and attuned to cultivating areas of society crucial to understanding and perhaps contributing to protection of human rights, to review the present position to see what appropriate opportunities there may be for wider and deeper contacts in these areas. To the Department, it would seem that the following areas are particularly important: (1) government officials, legislators and judges who deal with human rights matters; (2) university students; (3) university faculty; (4) lawyers, especially any who defend in “political” areas or are leaders in regular criminal law work, or in bar associations or other groups paying attention to human rights issues; (5) churchmen and missionaries, foreign and domestic, concerned with problems of the disadvantaged; (6) political minorities and, in authoritarian states, centers of political opposition (obvious precautions required). In short, experience suggests that we cannot rely on the “establishment” to give us a balanced and complete picture and our contacts must consciously be developed in depth in wide variety of groups having divergent perceptions.
Begin underline attendance at important trials end underline. Attendance at significant trials that focus sharp political differences in the community with respect of perception of human rights or that exhibit operations of law that are not consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is often highly informative. It serves also to show the seriousness of our concern about international human rights. Naturally, account must be taken of other relevant considerations, including competing demands on the time of limited personnel. There are numerous precedents where we have attended trials; our own receptivity to reciprocal observations is a matter of precedent, e.g. as to international observers or correspondents at Angela Davis and Wounded Knee trials.
Further steps will be the subject of further instructions.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 182813. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Runyon; cleared in T, H, L, CU, IO/UNP, AF, ARA, EA, EUR, NEA, AID, SCA, PA, and S/S; and approved by Wilson.
  2. The telegram reported the usefulness of post reporting on human rights and reiterated the value of promoting human rights through educational and cultural exchanges, informal official and unofficial contacts, and attendance at important trials.