45. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • Human Rights PRM

Attached at Tab A is a human rights PRM 2 which has been the subject of substantial interagency—and intra-NSC—discussion. After preliminary meetings, several concerned agencies were asked to submit drafts of a human rights PRM. These were coordinated and a redraft in[Page 138]corporating many of their ideas was produced and debated at a meeting of about a dozen NSC staff members.3

The resulting PRM is intended to elicit a review that would provide a sound theoretical and analytical base for a human rights policy, while at the same time avoiding the risk of philosophical debates. More specifically, the review will define (for the first time) exactly what our objectives are in pursuing this policy. It will attempt to deal with the realities imposed by existing law, and provide us with the basis for deciding whether such legislation can in fact be honestly implemented. It will evaluate the full range of policy tools available to the government (both unilaterally and in multinational forums) and will analyze their pros and cons. It will review important national security tradeoffs, and will propose a strategy for improving Congressional relations on human rights. Finally, the study will examine bureaucratic obstructions to pursuing a successful human rights policy, and will propose bureaucratic changes (reorganization, policy guidance needed in the field, etc.) that appear necessary.4


That you approve issuance of the human rights PRM at Tab A.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 94, Human Rights: 1977. Confidential. Sent for action. Tuchman sent Brzezinski the memorandum under a May 17 covering memorandum, which Inderfurth asked her to prepare on May 13, recommending that Brzezinski forward the memorandum to Carter. Handwritten notations by Inderfurth and Hormats on the covering memorandum read: “This PRM is now ready to go. I suggest, however, that a length limitation—say 25 pages—be placed on the response. RI.” and “I agree with Rick on length. Jessica should ride this one clearly lest it turn into treatise on the issue. RH.” (Ibid.)
  2. Printed as Document 46.
  3. Not found and not further identified.
  4. Brzezinski added the following handwritten notation: “Please note that I have deliberately placed the review—a truly interagency matter—under SCC (and not under PRC–State).” In a May 17 note to Brzezinski, Treverton commented, “At issue [with the PRM] is whether the review will be chaired by State in the PRC or done directly by the NSC; as DA [David Aaron] recommended—meaning, I presume, you effectively as chairman. GFT.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 94, Human Rights: 1977)
  5. The President placed a check mark on the approval line and added his initial at the bottom of the memorandum.