26. Telegram From the Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts1

62223. Subject: UN Address by the President.2

1. First major foreign policy address by President provides opportunity to initiate dialogue with host government on issues which will be major emphases of new administration, and to note administration’s commitment to work on these issues in multilateral context. Text of address carried on Wireless File. Following guidance suggests points which should be stressed in discussions with host government.

2. Importance of United Nations. Decision to deliver first major foreign policy speech at United Nations underlines major importance administration attaches to UN system. Speech follows highly successful visit to Washington by SYG at invitation of President to discuss major international issues (CFR no. 9 of March 2).3 President emphasized that all nations had responsibility for supporting ideals of UN which he described as commitment to freedom, self-government, human dignity, mutual toleration and peaceful resolution of disputes.

3. Peace and security. President’s remarks briefly highlighted problem areas of the world. On Middle East, he called for a flexible framework for a just and permanent settlement. On Southern Africa, he pledged US to work for majority rule through peaceful means, noting that Congress repealed Byrd Amendment this week, bringing US into full compliance with UN sanctions against Rhodesia. (President signed [Page 70] bill March 18).4 He called for strengthened US relations with Latin America and Southeast Asia, improved relations with former adversaries and further development of our relationship with PRC in spirit of Shanghai Communiqué.5

4. Arms control. Discussion of US-Soviet relations focused on vigorous pursuit of SALT talks, leading to deep arms reductions as well as strict controls or even a freeze on new types and generations of weapons. Alternatively we are prepared to explore a more limited agreement, based on elements on which there is consensus, setting aside for prompt subsequent negotiations the more contentious issues. He called for exploring total cessation of all nuclear testing, noting that it was not necessary that all nuclear states immediately adhere to such an agreement. He called for discussion with both the Soviet Union and with other states on control of conventional arms transfers. He said we would explore with the Soviet Union mutual military restraint in the Indian Ocean and emphasized that the US intended to make a strong and positive contribution to the UN Special Session on Disarmament in 1978.6

5. International economic issues. The US is sympathetic to the problems of developing world and the government has asked for dols 7.5 billion in foreign assistance for the coming year. It has asked Congress to increase the US contribution to the UN Development Program and to meet our pledges to international lending institutions par[Page 71]ticularly IDA and the World Bank. The President has committed the US to an open international trading system but one which does not ignore domestic concerns in the US. He said we were willing to consider negotiation of agreements to stabilize prices of individual commodities, including a common funding mechanism for financing buffer stocks where these are negotiated.

6. Human rights. Since all the signatories to the UN Charter have pledged to observe and respect basic human rights no UN member can claim that mistreatment of its citizens is solely within its own jurisdiction and no nation can avoid the responsibility to speak out when freedoms are eroded anywhere in the world. We acknowledge our own deficiencies, but are committed to deal with them quickly and openly.7 He said US would sign UN Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Covenant on Political and Civil Rights and seek ratification of them along with Conventions on Genocide and on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. He called for strengthening of the UN human rights machinery, endorsing idea of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, suggesting that Human Rights Commission meet more often and that it be brought back to New York where its work would receive more publicity. (US did not favor 1972 move of UN’s human rights division to Geneva.) He declared that HR were important in themselves and should not affect actions in other important areas which also had their own importance.

7. Action requested. Posts are requested to call President’s speech to attention of host governments as appropriate at earliest opportunity using the preceding paras as appropriate and drawing on speech more extensively in areas of particular interest to host governments. While governments, drawing on media reports or reports from their UN Missions, may seek to stress one aspect or another of the President’s speech, posts should emphasize that the foreign policy emphases, maintenance of peace, reducing the arms race, a more cooperative international economic system, and human rights will all be pursued with vigor by the administration.

8. For Peking. You may deliver by note.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770156–0808. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Kriebel; cleared by Shurtleff, Frederick Brown, McNutt, Tuchman, Perry, Hill, Phelps, Phyllis Oakley, Goott, Sebastian, Gold, and Congden; approved by Baker.
  2. The President addressed the UN General Assembly on March 17. The text of the President’s speech is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 444-451. It is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy.
  3. The President met with UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at the White House on February 25 from 11:15 a.m. to 1:12 p.m., a visit that included an arrival ceremony, an exchange of remarks, a meeting with UN and U.S. delegation members, and two luncheons (one hosted by the President for Waldheim and the other hosted by First Lady Rosalynn Carter for Mrs. Waldheim). (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) The text of the President’s and Waldheim’s remarks is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 245–246. The memorandum of conversation of their meeting is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 34, Memcons: President: 2/77. Briefing memoranda for Waldheim’s visit are in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, VIP Visit File, Box 14, United Nations: Secretary General Waldheim, 2/25–26/77: Briefing Book and Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, VIP Visit File, Box 14, United Nations, Secretary General Waldheim, 2/25–26/77: Cables and Memos.
  4. Public Law 95–12 (91 Stat. 22–23), signed into law by the President on March 18, reinstated the embargo against the importation of Rhodesian chrome and other strategic minerals. The bill, however, retained the substance of the Byrd amendment, in terms of barring the President from refusing to import strategic materials from other non-Communist countries. (Congress and the Nation, Volume V, 1977–1980, p. 47) Earlier, on February 10, Vance and Katz had testified in support of the bill (H.R. 1746/S.174) before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, asserting that its passage would help restore American credibility, permit the United States to fulfill its obligations under the UN Charter, and aid in a negotiated settlement of the Rhodesian situation. (Department of State Bulletin, February 28, 1977, pp. 170–174) For the President’s remarks at the signing ceremony, held in the Cabinet Room, see Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 451–452. See also Austin Scott, “Embargo Restored on Chrome Import,” The Washington Post, March 19, 1977, p. A–2 and Charles Mohr, “President Pledges Foreign Aid Changes,” The New York Times, March 19, 1977, p. A–4. Carter noted that he believed that the bill would “be of help to us in southern Africa. I have the authority to reestablish the purchase of Rhodesian chrome whenever I choose, so this would give us some leverage perhaps over the Rhodesians and complete the long struggle for majority rule.” (Carter, White House Diary, p. 34)
  5. The February 1972 Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, commonly known as the Shanghai Communiqué, committed both the United States and the People’s Republic of China to pursuing a normalization in relations. It is also printed as Document 203, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.
  6. The tenth UN Special Session on Disarmament was scheduled to take place during May and June 1978.
  7. In his remarks, the President asserted: “The basic thrust of human affairs points toward a more universal demand for fundamental human rights. The United States has a historical birthright to be associated with this process. We in the United States accept this responsibility in the fullest and the most constructive sense. Ours is a commitment, and not just a political posture. I know perhaps as well as anyone that our own ideals in the area of human rights have not always been attained in the United States, but the American people have an abiding commitment to the full realization of these ideals. And we are determined, therefore, to deal with our deficiencies quickly and openly. We have nothing to conceal.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, p. 450)