24. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1


London, May 7–8, 1977

I. U.S. Objectives

We should use this meeting to explain the Administration’s human rights policy and its importance, and to seek our allies’ understanding and support for our efforts.2 We should reassure them that this will be a realistic, sustained, cooperative effort; that we are not engaging in a single-handed moral crusade.

—If our consultations with the Congress permit it by this time, we might use this meeting to inform our allies of our intention to press for U.S. accession to and ratification of the UN human rights covenants, the convention on racial discrimination, and the genocide convention.

—To the extent we have general agreement by early May, we might also advise these governments that we hope to develop a consensus among the members of the international financial institutions on [Page 66] how to handle loan proposals for governments that do not respect human rights and will be pursuing the subject with them bilaterally.

II. CSCE Human Rights

Since there will probably be a NATO Summit meeting right after this session, that would be a more appropriate forum for discussion of CSCE human rights questions.3

III. Anticipated Reaction

All participants in the Summit are likely to accept more or less willingly an exchange of views on human rights and may be willing to accept some general communiqué language on the importance of the subject. However, most will oppose efforts to reach agreed policies on human rights.

UK and to a lesser degree Canada will welcome discussion of human rights at the Summit.

France will probably oppose such discussions as serving no useful purpose and possibly embarrassing the French Government.

Germany and Italy will be cautious about human rights discussions because they consider other issues more deserving of attention in this forum. The Germans have expressed concern over the impact of human rights activities on their Ostpolitik efforts. Both countries will listen carefully, but will be unenthusiastic at best.

Japan looks forward to the Summit primarily as an opportunity to discuss economic and trade issues, but will be willing to discuss human rights in a general context without reference to specific countries or cases.

If the European Community (EC) Commission participates, it will remain in the background.

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IV. Cautions

Discussion of human rights in this forum will be a sensitive matter both in terms of East-West détente and North-South relationships.

Developing countries regard emphasis on individual human rights as an excuse for not acting on the economic and social rights which are their priority interest.

Any public announcement on human rights should be general and avoid giving the impression that the meeting coordinated the human rights policies of the industrialized nations.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770044–1091. Confidential. Drafted by Spear, Rovine, and Vogelgesang on March 9. Concurred in by Daniel O’Donohue (P), Derian, Hartman, Dobbins, Winder, Christenson, and Tarnoff. O’Donohue and Tarnoff initialed the memorandum; Spear initialed for the other clearing officials. Sent under cover of a March 10 memorandum from Borg to Brzezinski. (Ibid.) Another copy is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Special Projects—Henry Owen, Box 28, Summit: London (Human Rights), 2–5/77.
  2. The President departed Washington for London on May 5 in advance of the G–7 Economic Summit. For the text of the Joint Declaration issued in London at the conclusion of the Summit on May 8, see Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 819–824. Documentation on the Summit, including the records of the sessions, is in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume III, Foreign Economic Policy. Carter also attended a four-nation May 9 meeting on Berlin before departing for Geneva to meet with Syrian President Asad. He then returned to London for the May 10 North Atlantic Council meeting. The President’s remarks made in Washington and London, the transcript of a news conference following the summit, and texts of the joint declaration of the international summit meeting, the declaration on Berlin, and NAC communiqué are printed in Department of State Bulletin, June 6, 1977, pp. 581–607.
  3. After the Summit, the President traveled to Geneva and Berlin, then returned to London to attend the May 10 North Atlantic Council meeting. He delivered prepared remarks to the NAC meeting on May 10 and referenced the upcoming CSCE Review Conference, noting that the United States intended to support a review of progress made by all countries in implementing each provision of the Helsinki Final Act. Carter added that the U.S. human rights policy “does not reflect a desire to impose our particular political or social arrangements on any other country. It is, rather, an expression of the most deeply felt values of the American people. We want the world to know where we stand. (We entertain no illusion that the concerns we express and the actions we take will bring rapid changes in the policies of other governments. But neither do we believe that world opinion is without effect.) We will continue to express our beliefs—not only because we must remain true to ourselves but also because we are convinced that the building of a better world rests on each nation’s clear expression of the values that have given meaning to its national life.” (Department of State Bulletin, June 6, 1977, p. 599)