[Page 405]

119. Presidential Directive/NSC–301


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • The Secretary of the Treasury
  • The Attorney General
  • The Secretary of Commerce
  • The Director, Office of Management and Budget
  • The United States Representative to the United Nations
  • The Administrator, Agency for International Development
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Director, United States Information Agency


  • Human Rights
[Page 406]

It shall be a major objective of U.S. foreign policy to promote the observance of human rights throughout the world. The policy shall be applied globally, but with due consideration to the cultural, political and historical characteristics of each nation, and to other fundamental U.S. interests with respect to the nation in question.


1. It shall be the objective of the U.S. human rights policy to reduce worldwide governmental violations of the integrity of the person (e.g., torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; arbitrary arrest or imprisonment; lengthy detention without trial, and assassination) and, to enhance civil and political liberties (e.g., freedom of speech, of religion, of assembly, of movement and of the press; and the right to basic judicial protections). It will also be a continuing U.S. objective to promote basic economic and social rights (e.g., adequate food, education, shelter and health).

2. In promoting human rights, the United States shall use the full range of its diplomatic tools, including direct diplomatic contacts, public statements, symbolic acts, consultations with allies, cooperation with nongovernmental organizations, and work with international organizations.

3. Greater reliance should be placed on positive inducements and incentives acknowledging improvements in human rights whenever appropriate and possible, through preferential treatment in political relations and economic benefits.

4. To this end, countries with a good or substantially improving record of human rights observance will be given special consideration in the allocation of U.S. foreign assistance, just as countries with a poor or deteriorating record will receive less favorable consideration. Programs for each fiscal year shall be reviewed in this light.

5. In the evaluation of the human rights condition of a foreign nation in the course of the implementation of this directive, primary emphasis shall be placed on longer term trends and on the cumulative effect of specific events.

6. The U.S. shall not, other than in exceptional circumstances, take any action which would result in material or financial support to the police, civil law enforcement authorities, or others performing internal security functions of governments engaged in serious violations of human rights.

7. U.S. human rights actions within the International Financial Institutions shall be designed and implemented so as not to undermine the essential U.S. interest of preserving these institutions as effective economic instruments. To this end, future U.S. actions in the International Financial Institutions shall seek to: utilize most effectively both [Page 407]our voice and our vote; understand and attempt to influence the Banks’ actions as early as possible in the loan process; and, engage the support of other nations and multilateral organizations.

8. The Interagency Group shall periodically report to the PRC/NSC on the actions taken or recommended pursuant to this Presidential Directive. In particular, the Interagency Group shall, within two months, report on the effectiveness of recent U.S. actions in the International Financial Institutions, with particular attention to: Congressional attitudes and prospective legislation; views of other nations as to the propriety and legality of actions we may take; and, the effect of our actions on the advancement of U.S. human rights objectives.2

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues—Oplinger/Bloomfield Subject File, Box 41, Presidential Determinations, Directives, and Review Memoranda: [II]: 1/77–5/80. Confidential. On February 15, Tuchman had sent Brzezinski and Huntington a redrafted version of the PD, an explanation and comment sheet, and an earlier draft of the PD containing the President’s handwritten comments (see attachment, Document 113). Tuchman explained that the redrafted version integrated the President’s comments. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Defense/Security—Huntington, Box 38, Human Rights: 2–8/78) Another copy of the explanation and comments sheet contains Bartholomew’s handwritten comments and Brzezinski’s decisions regarding the various additions and deletions made to the draft PD. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues—Bloomfield Subject File, Box 17, Human Rights: Presidential Review Memorandum–28 and Presidential Directive–30, 5/77–2/78) An undated covering memorandum from Brzezinski to the President indicates that Brzezinski planned to send Carter a copy of the revised PD—one that reflected Brzezinski’s approved changes as indicated on the comment and decision sheet—to allow Carter to accept or reject alternative language proposed in two paragraphs. According to a handwritten notation on the memorandum, the memorandum and the PD did not go forward to the President. (Ibid.) Brzezinski transmitted the final version of PD/NSC–30 to the President under a February 17 covering memorandum, requesting that the President sign the PD. Brzezinski also attached a copy of the Human Rights Foundation proposal (see Document 114), indicating that the Department had reviewed the proposal and agreed with “the general idea.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780040–0745) In an undated, handwritten note to Brzezinski, Carter wrote: “Zbig—Hold memo on Foundation. J.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 94, Human Rights: 1978) The Department transmitted the text of PD–30 to all diplomatic and consular posts in telegram 45685, February 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780083–0397)
  2. The Interagency Group’s report is printed as Document 139.