273. Summary of Discussion and Conclusions of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • North-South Strategy


  • State
  • Secretary Vance
  • Anthony Lake
  • Richard Cooper
  • Jeffrey Garten
  • Defense
  • Charles W. Duncan
  • Brig. Gen. James M. Thompson
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • Gen. William Y. Smith
  • Treasury
  • C. Fred Bergsten
  • US/UN
  • Dr. Charles Frank
  • CIA
  • Dr. Robert Bowie
  • [name not declassified]
  • NSC
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • David Aaron
  • Roger Hansen
  • Thomas Thornton
  • Robert Hormats
  • OMB
  • Bowman Cutter
  • AID
  • John Gilligan
  • Ted Van Dyk


I. The principal issues for discussion were:

(1) The need to institutionalize an interagency mechanism for further refinement of the North-South strategy outlined in the PRM 8 response, and to flesh out a specific set of policy options for the President.

(2) The growing complexities of US relations with the so-called “upper-tier” developing countries such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the need to develop a set of US policies toward these countries which increasingly incorporate them into the leading international institutions in ways that strengthen US capacity to achieve its foreign policy goals.

(3) The primary focus which the US should place on the development of a global strategy of meeting the basic human needs of the world’s poorest people.

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(4) The mutually supporting relationship between a US human rights strategy and US efforts to place basic human needs at the center of our development policies.

II. The principal conclusions were:

(1) An interagency group chaired by the State Department and reporting to the PRC, would become the central bureaucratic mechanism for the elaboration of the ideas contained in PRM 8 and for the development of specific policy options in the field of North-South relations.

(2) The fulfillment of basic human needs should be considered as an integral element of the fulfillment of human rights. The two closely related concepts can and should form a central core of US foreign policy.

(3) While the fulfillment of basic human needs is but one of several elements of the North-South strategy outlined in PRM 8, it should be a primary focus of the overall strategy and a central component of the resource transfer aspect of US North-South policies.

(4) The core elements of a basic human needs program should be the provision of minimum levels of food/nutrition, health services and basic education.

(5) US relations with the “middle” and “upper-tier” developing countries require an emphasis on a broad range of policy tools which need further investigation. A basic human needs strategy will be far less central to their needs, and its role in these countries needs further study.

III. The following actions are to be taken:

(1) The new North-South Working Group will immediately undertake the analysis and development of policy options considered necessary for the President’s September address to the United Nations.2 Drawing on the work done in preparing PRM 8 and being done in the present DCC study of foreign aid3 where appropriate, the Group will present specific options to the PRC during the first week in September.

(2) Beyond this initial assignment, the Group will flesh out in detail the four-part strategy for North-South relations outlined and proposed in PRM 8. It will attempt further refinement by disaggregating North-South problems into (a) issues; (b) countries; (c) venues; and (d) policy instruments.

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On the basis of this analytical exercise, the Group will produce a series of action/decision papers for consideration by the PRC throughout the coming six months.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 63, PRC 028 7/27/77 North/South Issues [1]. Confidential. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Brzezinski forwarded the summary to Carter under cover of a July 30 memorandum; Carter initialed Brzezinski’s memorandum and indicated his approval of the summary. (Ibid.)
  2. Carter addressed the UN General Assembly on October 4; for the text of his address, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1977, Book II, pp. 1715–1723.
  3. See Document 268.