140. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (Derian) to the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Wisner)1


  • AID Budget Review

AID’s proposed FY 80, 81 and 82 budgets call for sizeable increases over levels requested in past years. HA believes that the United States should do much more than it has in the past to help meet basic human needs throughout the world. This office is concerned, however, that in developing its strategy, AID take adequately into account the human rights records of individual countries. This will mean tailoring allocation levels and program content to reflect human rights considerations.

HA is not arguing that countries with bad human rights records should not receive any bilateral U.S. assistance. We are arguing that greater attention should be given to countries whose governments have demonstrated a real commitment to fostering the rights of their peoples. It is conceivable that there will be instances where such a government abuses political and civil rights but still has a commitment to fostering social and economic rights. In such cases, steady levels are the most which should be provided, but they should be based on a very strict project by project review to make certain that their impact will be to foster greater equity and not to reinforce a repressive political structure. In the absence of such a commitment, AID projects become stopgap humanitarian gestures with no real impact on development and too often are anti-developmental in the sense that they help to prolong the life of a repressive or apathetic regime. In the absence of a host government’s commitment to increasing the socio-economic participation of its poor, only those AID projects which can be shown to act as catalysts which, in a sense, challenge an inequitable economic structure, should be funded.

In addition AID should become actively involved in designing and funding programs geared at preparing people to participate in the legal and political process and training experts to defend and foster constitu [Page 468] tional and other guarantees designed to accord due process to all, but especially to the underprivileged, who are so-often excluded from fair and impartial treatment. Greater emphasis should be placed on programs that work directly with lower income groups, e.g., co-ops, land tenure, para-legal and para-medicine, basic education. For example, our Embassy in Rwanda has recently come in with a very interesting proposal to fund para-legal training. It’s exactly the kind of thing AID should be doing. Much can be accomplished by increased funding to private voluntary organizations, both international and national in origin. Indeed, in countries with serious human rights problems, we can lessen direct links with the Government but continue to assist the needy by using pros.

HA has consistently fought efforts to create human rights violator hit lists. We believe that to be effective we must approach the situation in each country on a case-by-case basis tailoring the use of available policy tools to a variety of circumstances. To list in this memo a group of aid recipient countries where we believe FY 80 programs should remain at current or lower funding levels would be to take the real risk of creating just such a list and having it circulate. We are prepared, in the course of the overall budget review, to make recommendations with regard to specific country programs. Our recommendations will reflect concerns over funding levels and our desire to examine closely individual projects in problem countries to ensure that they maximize overall human rights/human needs objectives.

HA has no objection in listing countries where we would recommend increases in FY 80 program levels above and beyond that envisioned under the overall program. These countries are: Gambia, Senegal, Botswana, India, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

  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, AID. No classification marking. Derian did not initial the memorandum. Drafted by Bova on April 29. The date on the memorandum is handwritten.