10. Memorandum From the Coordinator for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (Wilson) to the Deputy Secretary of State-Designate (Christopher)1


  • S/P Human Rights Memorandum to the Secretary

The S/P memo to the Secretary of today’s date2 was read but not commented on by this office in view of S/P’s insistence on sending it forward immediately. No other interested bureaus have seen it. Our preliminary views are as follows.

General: We agree that action needs to be taken soon on a number of important pending issues and most particularly, as I indicated to you earlier, that an in depth study be undertaken at once by S/P, either internally within the Department or as part of a broader interagency PRM. If the latter, it should be kept under the Department’s lead.

Short-term Actions

—Ms. Derian should be consulted on the need to go beyond recent press reports to push for an official announcement on her appointment before her clearance.

—The proposal for an internal Coordinating Committee at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level appears premature and probably unnecessary. Ms. Derian must be given a chance to see how she wishes to proceed in the future and to decide what mechanisms will be most helpful to her.

—We have already recommended favorable action on the human rights conventions and covenants. The President may want to announce his intentions at Monday’s press conference.3 Alternatively it may be better to wait until further checks can be made with Congressional leaders.

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—On bilateral issues the Secretary is understood to be handling security assistance levels directly, and T, H and DOD need to be consulted on the advisability of releasing figures on individual countries ahead of the Congressional presentation. Subject to H’s views, selective consultations with key Congressmen are probably an essential ingredient depending on the nature of the President’s final decision. The Harkin amendment problems are urgent but need careful consideration by E and the interested bureaus before we decide on Congressional moves.

—H has already recommended that the Secretary see the human rights advocates on the Hill before he leaves on his trip.4 We also have some ideas on how you could help as well.

Long-term Strategy

—The “guidelines” paper on criteria for implementation of current legislation5 is being reviewed now and should be made available to you and the Secretary for decision now—not in the longer term—just as soon as it can be finally processed.

—Bureau strategy papers strike us as being something that should be incorporated in the longer range policy study. Indeed the excellent draft outline of the proposed long-term policy study6 includes such sections, and in other new country and regional PRM’s (Korea and ARA, e.g.) human rights sections are already in preparation.

—I doubt if either the President or the Secretary should make a full scale speech on human rights until the policy paper is completed and approved. They are doing fine now with short interpolations of principle and objective, without getting into much more difficult and sensitive details.

—Certainly work is needed on new legislation, but this too must await the development of basic follow on policy decisions.

Finally, there are a number of other points which need to be considered in our view—generally those contained in my earlier January 21 memorandum to you7 on possible initiatives. We also need to get reports from other bureaus, particularly H, PM, EB and the geographic bureaus.

  1. Source: Department of State, Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, 1976–1977 Human Rights Subject Files and Country Files, Lot 80D177, SHUM—Policies. Confidential. Drafted by Wilson. A copy was sent to Derian.
  2. See Document 9.
  3. Carter held his first news conference as President on February 8. For his remarks, see Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 92–100. Later, the President noted, “I had my first press conference. I felt completely at ease and leveled with the press the best I could, describing frankly some of the crucial issues that face our country. The major emphasis was on SALT talks and human rights. I spelled out in general terms our positions on these issues and intend to keep the press conferences on schedule and not evade issues any more than necessary for national security.” (Carter, White House Diary, pp. 17–18)
  4. Jenkins made a formal recommendation to Vance on February 10; see Docu-ment 13.
  5. Tab B to Document 9 and printed as the attachment to Document 1.
  6. Presumable reference to the draft Policy Planning Staff outline for the human rights strategy paper, Tab A to Document 9.
  7. Not found.