47. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Signing of the American Convention on Human Rights

In your Pan American Day speech,2 you made two specific commitments—to sign and seek the ratification of Protocol I of the Treaty of [Page 141] Tlatelolco3 and of the American Convention on Human Rights.4 The most prevalent reaction to your speech by Latin Americans was whether you would follow up on your promises, and this will undoubtedly be a question Mrs. Carter will hear on her trip.5 Therefore, I would recommend that you try to sign both treaties before or during her trip.

The Mexicans will be bringing Protocol I with them for their Cabinet meeting in Washington on Thursday, May 26,6 and it would be appropriate to sign it with Mrs. Carter present, before your flight to St. Simons Island.7

As far as the American Convention, it would seem particularly appropriate if you could sign that on May 31, when Mrs. Carter arrives in Costa Rica, where much of the discussion will probably be focused on human rights issues.

The State Department Legal Adviser and Bob Lipshutz believe that we can have all the necessary documents ready by late this week. Since the Convention is deposited at the OAS, you would have to sign it there. I believe the event would give added meaning to Mrs. Carter’s visit in Costa Rica.

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That you sign Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco on May 26 in Washington, before flying to St. Simons Island, and that you sign the American Convention on Human Rights at the OAS on May 31.8

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 94, Human Rights: 1977. Confidential. Sent for action. Sent to Brzezinski by Pastor under cover of a May 23 memorandum. (Ibid.) The NSC sent a copy to Tarnoff under a May 24 covering memorandum requesting that the Department of State determine whether or not the signing ceremony could take place at the White House rather than at OAS headquarters. (Ibid.)
  2. See footnote 8, Document 38.
  3. The 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco (Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean), which prohibited and prevented the development, testing, use, or manufacture of nuclear weapons, contained two protocols. Protocol I committed countries outside of the Treaty zone to undertake obligations of the Treaty with respect to their territories within the zone. Protocol II, which Vice President Humphrey signed on behalf of the United States on April 1, 1968, called upon states possessing nuclear weapons that agree to respect the obligations in the Treaty to not use nuclear weapons against the parties to the Treaty. For additional information, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XI, Arms Control and Disarmament, Document 226.
  4. The OAS adopted the American Convention on Human Rights at San José, Costa Rica, on November 22, 1969. In a May 31, 1977, briefing memorandum to Christopher, Hansell indicated that the Convention “treats in detail a wide range of civil and political rights, and establishes both a Commission and a Court to consider complaints of violations of human rights protected by the Convention. The great majority of the provisions of the Convention are entirely consistent with the letter and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution and laws.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770103–1218)
  5. Reference is to First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s goodwill trip to Jamaica, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela May 30–June 8.
  6. Minutes of the meeting are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, volume XXVI, Arms Control.
  7. The Carter family planned to depart for Musgrove Plantation, on Saint Simons Island, the afternoon of May 26 in order to spend Memorial Day weekend in Georgia. Mrs. Carter left for Jamaica on May 30; the President and Amy Carter returned to Washington on May 31. (Carter, White House Diary, pp. 57–60)
  8. Carter placed a check mark on the approval line and added a handwritten note: “Can’t it be brought to me?” The President signed Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco at the White House on May 26 and the American Convention on Human Rights at OAS headquarters on June 1. For his remarks at each signing ceremony, see Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 1027 and 1050–1051.