46. Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC–281


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • The Secretary of the Treasury
  • The Attorney General
  • The Secretary of Commerce
  • The Director, Office of Management and Budget
  • The United States Representative to the United Nations
  • The Administrator, Agency for International Development
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director, U.S. Information Agency


  • Human Rights

The President has directed that the Special Coordination Committee undertake a review of U.S. policy with respect to human rights. The review should:

1. Define U.S. objectives in the area of human rights, including, where appropriate, the timeframe for achieving such objectives.

2. Identify what constitutes “a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”, listing those nations which currently fit this definition.

3. Evaluate actions which the U.S. could take to improve human rights conditions. Consideration should be given but not limited to the following:

a. Diplomatic actions, public statements, and various symbolic acts.

b. Changes in levels of security and economic assistance and food aid—as both sanctions and incentives.

c. Initiatives in International Financial Institutions of which the U.S. is a member.

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d. Use of overseas radio, and later television, broadcast facilities.

e. Improved access into the U.S. for refugees and dissidents, with an evaluation of the relevant sections of the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

f. Substantive and procedural initiatives the U.S. could take in various international forums.

4. Review national security aspects of U.S. policies on human rights, including consideration of their impact on: U.S.–Soviet détente; friendly states and allies; and other areas of major strategic concern such as the PRC and the Koreas.

5. Propose actions which can be taken to give authority and bureaucratic access to those charged with the responsibility for integrating human rights considerations into U.S. foreign policy, including in U.S. missions abroad.

6. Develop a strategy to improve the Administration’s relations with Congress in this area.

The review should be completed by July 1, 1977, and should be no longer than 30 pages.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues—Bloomfield Subject File, Box 17, Human Rights: Presidential Review Memorandum-28 and Presidential Directive-30: 5/77–2/78. Confidential. The President wrote in the top right hand corner: “ok, JC.”