Press Release

Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State
December 18, 2009

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, Volume E–3, Documents on Global Issues, 1973–1976, as an electronic-only publication. This volume is the latest publication in the subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important foreign policy decisions of the administrations of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. Volume E–3 is available to all free of charge on the Internet. Approximately 25 percent of the volumes scheduled for publication for the 1969–1976 subseries, covering the Nixon and Nixon–Ford administrations, will be in this format.

This volume documents United States policy concerning global/transnational issues during the Nixon and Ford administrations: Antarctic resource exploitation, international drug control, human rights, oceans policy, space and telecommunications, and terrorism. Additional global issues, including energy, disarmament, food policy, population control, and women’s issues are treated in other volumes in the 1969–1976 subseries.

The second Nixon and Ford administrations confronted numerous issues that could only be addressed in a global context, through multi-level negotiations including other governments, non-governmental entities, intergovernmental organizations, domestic constituencies, and trans-national communities of scientific, scholarly, or other professional expertise. Moreover, the period reflected the growing influence of factors such as rapid technological innovation, a deepening sensitivity to environmental consequences, Congressional involvement in international affairs, and the influence of popular opinion in formulating foreign policy.

The potential for economic exploitation of the ecologically sensitive Antarctic region threatened to upset the special neutrality arrangements that protected the southernmost continent and its surrounding oceans. Aware of the fragile political-strategic balance in the region, Nixon and Ford administration officials exercised restraint in considering commercial opportunities, continued support for scientific research, and initiated measures to institute an orderly regime for management of Antarctic resources.

Policy makers endeavored to regulate the international flow of legal drugs in order to ensure adequate supplies of medicine while at the same time controlling the traffic in illicit substances. Nixon, Ford, and their advisers engaged in a multifaceted effort that included negotiations with governments whose territory acted as centers for the illicit traffic, a significant restructuring of federal drug control organization, attempts to promote demand reduction and crop substitution abroad, and cooperation with international agencies involved in drug control activities.

The promotion of human rights worldwide caused a significant reconsideration of the moral basis and fundamental goals of U.S. foreign policy. Congressional action resulted in the creation of an office within the Department of State to monitor human rights abuses and the imposition of sanctions against certain governments.

The continuum of issues involving innovations in the fields of telecommunications, the possibilities inherent in space exploration, and the potential for exploitation of extraterrestrial bodies elicited a multifaceted governmental response. Nixon and Ford administration officials simultaneously promoted peaceful uses of space and took advantage of U.S. technological superiority in negotiations, while attempting to balance civil, military, and intelligence uses of those technologies.

In the context of a global redefinition of maritime regimes taking place at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, oceans and fisheries policy consumed a considerable portion of the administrations’ attention, especially as negotiations reached a climax in 1976. While multiple domestic constituencies attempted to promote their interests, vital military and strategic considerations remained at the heart of U.S. policy.

Finally, a fundamental redefinition of the problem of terrorism occurred as the Nixon administration entered its second term. The March 1973 attack on U.S. diplomats in Khartoum and increased concern about the safety of foreign emissaries at the United Nations in New York City caused federal officials to engage in a variety of measures to promote security at home and abroad.

The volume, including a preface, list of names, abbreviations, sources, annotated document list, and this press release, is available on the Office of the Historian website ( For further information e-mail