27. Paper Prepared in the Policy Planning Staff1

CU Action Program on Human Rights

According to a preliminary paper prepared by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,2 CU has both the opportunity and capacity to contribute to a greater awareness of human rights. It—together with USIA, AID, and PA and with overall coordination from D/HA—should be encouraged to expand its role in the human rights sphere.

CU’s general approach should:

—Proceed on the basis of two assumptions: that there is substantial diversity among individual societies and cultures and that we can all learn something from each other in human rights matters.

—Be low-key and indirect, as opposed to confrontational and sharply visible.

—Proceed, as much as possible, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, with grant support from CU where necessary. CAUTION: We should avoid covert financing since it could well prove counterproductive for the promotion of human rights.

—Stress the longer-term approach of promoting pluralism within various societies through programs with academics, journalists, lawyers, labor and political leaders, etc.

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Programs might be developed around three basic themes:

1. Law and Society: There is timeless conflict between order and freedom which shapes the legal system of every society. CU, together with USIA and AID, can use seminars, exchange programs and media products to address such topics as: the law vis-à-vis property, privacy, minorities; protection of civil rights and liberties; equity among citizens of all classes; the idea of a politically-independent judiciary; the rule of law.

2. Comparative values: Diversity in perceptions on human rights derives largely from differences in value systems. A comparative study of changing value systems affecting society, customs, and political institutions could help broaden understanding of these perceptions. Among possible themes for discussion: cultural values and comparative legal systems, individual rights versus the “greater welfare,” women in society, concepts of loyalty and obligation, individual rights versus family obligations, conflict-solving through compromise versus “right-or-wrong” adjudication, distributive justice, the generation gap, values rooted in religion, and the role of economic enterprise and “the public good.”

3. Civic Institutional Response to Social Needs: Programs of the State Department, USIA, and AID have already tried to build on the work of such US organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the NAACP, Sierra Club, etc., to promote a greater sense of community action abroad. More activities in this area might include: economic enterprise and social change, the cooperative movement, religious organizations and social progress, community action for social betterment, leadership training for social improvement, pressure groups and public policy, the environmental movement, and the status of the volunteer.

The next steps for implementation of a concrete CU action program for human rights should include:

Compilation of an inventory of organizations and individuals with which to work on human rights-related programs.

Organization of one or more seminars (perhaps both a multi-regional and several regional symposia) with a strong human rights orientation.

Inclusion of program activity related to human rights on the agenda of exchange programs—both American Specialists going abroad and International Visitors coming to the United States and the Fulbright Program.

Increase in support for organizations dedicated to fostering human rights (comparable to those programs already in train with the American Association of the International Commission of Jurists, the Center for World Peace through Law, and the American Bar Association’s [Page 68] Program for International Legal Exchange). AID could augment efforts in this area, if the appropriate adjustments were made in existing legislation. (Senator Humphrey reportedly picked up on this idea at recent hearings.3)

—Elaboration on how CU intends to fulfill the objective (“to increase attention to and support for human rights”), specified in the regional goals for that bureau’s FY ’79 and ’80 budgets.

USIA Action Program on Human Rights

Although we have not yet solicited a specific action program from the Information Agency, our discussion with officials there and elsewhere suggests the following:

USIA has already taken significant steps to emphasize US commitment to human rights abroad.

VOA (Voice of America) stresses the theme in its broadcasts (so much so that there is increased fear of jamming by the USSR) and has a Human Rights Projects Officer working on a series on this subject.

IPS (Press Service) has reflected this high priority policy with the drafting and dispatch of over 60 articles to USIS posts around the world.

Policy Guidance. Working together with D/HA, USIA has cabled4 (March 1977) guidance on treatment of human rights to all USIS posts.

Information Kit. An “FYI Kit on Human Rights as a US and International Issue,” with a collection of background material on this topic, has been prepared and will be sent to all USIS field offices by March 31, 1977.

Active Coordination with D/HA. The Human Rights Officer on the Agency’s Policy and Planning Advisory Staff attends weekly meetings held by D/HA in the Department and is in regular contact with the D/HA staff.

Media Feedback. USIA provides interested Agency and Department officers with worldwide media reaction on US statements and actions on human rights.

Next Steps

Substantive: USIA claims that its machinery is ready to roll. What’s needed is a clearer idea of the policy we want to project.

Procedural: The Agency is considering the establishment of a more formalized structure to deal with human rights and should be [Page 69] encouraged to do so, with the most appropriate position for coordination within IOP (the Office of Policy and Plans) and with the stipulation that that office report directly and frequently on human rights to the Director.

Development of Interagency Action Plan. In addition to increasing coordination within the Agency on human rights and continuing its active cooperation with D/HA, the Agency should work together with AID and the Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (CU) and Public Affairs (PA) to draw up a detailed and coordinated action plan for bringing the US Government’s informational and cultural resources to bear most effectively on promotion of human rights.5

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770118–2014. Secret. Attached as Tab 5 to an undated action memorandum from Lake and Derian to Vance, sent through Habib and Christopher, regarding a general approach and a specific action program concerning the administration’s human rights policy. The final version of the S/P and D/HA action memorandum, March 25, is printed as an attachment to a March 25 memorandum from Lake to Christopher. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Document 29. Christopher subsequently directed the Policy Planning Staff to redraft the March 25 memorandum as a memorandum from Christopher to Vance. For additional information, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Document 34.
  2. Not found and not further identified.
  3. Reference is presumably to the March 7 Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Foreign Assistance hearings. Humphrey chaired the Subcommittee.
  4. Not found.
  5. In a May 3 memorandum to Vance, Christopher stated, “I have called for the preparation of human rights action plans by USIA, CU, and PA for review by our Coordinating Committee; the PA plan will include, inter alia, proposals to help senior-level officials of the Administration explain US policy on human rights, and the preparation of materials for mailing to opinion leaders and groups and for use by State Department employees speaking throughout the United States.” (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 19, Human Rights—Tasking Memos) Christopher’s memorandum is attached to a May 23 memorandum from Vance to Carter; it is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Document 48. For the final version of the USIA action plan, see Document 60.