81. Memorandum From Samuel Huntington of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Counsel (Lipshutz)1
- Creating a Human Rights Agency
Attached is the paper I promised you when we talked a few weeks ago about the desirability of giving permanent form to the Administration’s human rights concerns by creating a human rights agency. The paper attempts to lay out the reasons—which are largely political—for creating such an agency and to identify the functions it could perform. It also describes, as you suggested, alternative organizational locations for such an agency.
The important thing, as I see it, is to enable the President to maintain his commitment to human rights, on the one hand, and yet not have him under the gun of having to produce every week a new “human rights victory” in order to demonstrate the strength of that commitment. Creation of a human rights agency would ease the pressure on him and at the same time create a body which could work effectively for human rights over the long haul.
I would welcome the chance to discuss with you your reactions to the arguments advanced in the paper.[Page 266]
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Defense/Security—Huntington, Box 38, Human Rights: 10–12/77. Confidential. Huntington did not initial the memorandum. Huntington sent an earlier version this memorandum to Tuchman, prompting Tuchman to respond in a September 26 memorandum: “Basically my problem is that I don’t really see that this would fill a need that is not now being met. The argument that institutionalizing the issue in this way would preserve human rights under an Administration hostile to these concerns seems to me pretty unconvincing since the new entity would be ignored and its recommendations defeated in any case (c.f., ACDA under Nixon).” (Ibid.)↩
- Confidential. A handwritten note at the top of the paper reads: “Uncorrected.”↩
- See Document 46.↩
- Some might ask: Why should this agency only attempt to promote human rights abroad? Shouldn’t it also promote human rights in the US? The answer is that it should not. And the reason is twofold, but simple. First, fewer violations of human rights occur in the United States than in most other societies. Second, far more people and organizations—official and private, national and local—are concerned with the protection of human rights in the United States than in other societies. As a result, the ratio of organized concern to actual or potential violations of human rights is far higher in the US than anywhere else in the world. There is thus far greater need for the human rights agency to focus on the global condition of human rights than on their condition in the US. To become involved in the latter would also clearly distract it from the former. The agency should, consequently, become concerned with aspects of human rights in the US only insofar as these impinge directly on the condition of human rights abroad. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- The Foreign Assistance Act of 1969 (H.R. 14580; P.L. 91–175; 83 Stat. 805) established the IAF as an independent foreign assistance agency of the United States Government that provides grants for development programs.↩
- An unknown hand wrote “uncorrected” in the margin next to the end of this paragraph.↩