116. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at Geneva1

36220. For USDel to the Human Rights Commission. Subject: High Commissioner for Human Rights Proposal.

1. Department has reviewed current status of Human Rights Commissioner proposal and possible alternatives such as an Under Secretary General for Human Rights. We have concluded that USDel should continue to strongly support High Commissioner proposal and not repeat not endorse or pursue further consultations on Under Secretary General or other similar alternative proposal.

2. As USDel knows, President Carter expressed continued US support for a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in his speech at the UN on March 17, 1977.2 We have not asked or received any authorization to change that basic policy. Our goal is still to establish a strong position with a mandate guaranteeing sufficient freedom and influence to promote effectively basic human rights throughout the world.

3. We believe that an Under Secretary General would be likely to have his authority seriously circumscribed by virtue of the limitations of the UN Secretariat system. His effectiveness would largely depend on the political character of the Secretary General. There are also serious financial and structural implications for the UN system itself in creating a new Under Secretary General position.

4. Department is prepared to consider possibility of supporting alternative title for UN official with the same type of autonomy we envisage for the High Commissioner. Provided the mandate is essentially the same, we could seek White House approval for a “UN Special Rep [Page 401] resentative for Human Rights” or “Special Rapporteur for Human Rights” or similar title. Please advise if your consultations lead you to believe such an alternative is possible.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780063–0418. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information immediate to USUN. Drafted by John Tefft (IO/UNA) and Laurel Shea (IO/UNP); cleared by Rita Taubenfeld (IO/HR) and Barry; approved by Maynes.
  2. See Document 26.