14. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to All Assistant Secretaries of State1

Human Rights

The President has stressed this Administration’s strong commitment to the promotion of human rights. The Department of State must help implement this goal of US foreign policy.

To carry out a policy which is constructive for furthering both human rights and our other national objectives, we need an overall human rights strategy and internal mechanism for helping assure balanced decisions in this area. To that end, I have taken the following actions:

—Asked the Deputy Secretary to establish an ad hoc Human Rights Coordinating Group, administered by D/HA and to include, as appropriate, representatives from P, T, L, H, S/P, IO, PM, EB, AID, and the regional bureaus—initially at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level.2 The HRCG will be the forum for coordination of human rights policymaking within the Department.

—Requested the Policy Planning Staff, in consultation with D/HA and cooperating with other interested bureaus, to formulate a broad human rights policy for my review.3

In addition, I am now asking that regional bureaus develop strategy papers focused on key human rights problems under their purview and tactics for dealing with them. Following the first meeting of the Human Rights Coordinating Group, detailed instructions will be issued by the Executive Secretary.4

Cyrus Vance
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Chron and Official Records of the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Lot 85D366, NODIS. No classification marking. Another copy is attached to Lake’s February 4 memorandum to Vance (see Document 9).
  2. See Document 9 and footnote 8 thereto. Saunders and Watson sent Christopher action memoranda on February 14 and 18, respectively, requesting INR and SCA representation on the Human Rights Coordinating Group (HRCG). Christopher approved these requests on February 16 and 21, respectively. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770030–2329 and P770034–0581) Christopher later approved D/HA’s request for USIA representation. See Document 29.
  3. See Document 9 and footnote 8 thereto.
  4. See Document 15.