275. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (Malone) to the Under Secretary of State for Management (Spiers)1


  • Coordinator of Population Affairs

I am concerned that we attract the right person for this position and find an appropriate onward assignment for Richard Benedick. The Coordinator has high visibility outside the Department, and Congress and public interest groups will be watching the transition. As you know, Benedick’s performance, for five years at ambassadorial rank, has been superlative.

This is the senior position in the USG dealing with international population matters, an especially sensitive aspect of foreign policy with implications for our national security and the effectiveness of U.S. development assistance and diplomacy in many key countries. Following the 1979 retirement of Marshall Green, the first incumbent, the position was established at the deputy-assistant-secretary level, with Senate-confirmed rank of ambassador.

The Coordinator of Population Affairs is responsible for developing and guiding U.S. policy, and engages in a wide range of activities to improve the effectiveness of this policy through U.S. bilateral programs, multilateral institutions, private sector activities, and in negotiations with developing and donor countries. The position has grown in recent years, as more LDC’s have recognized the importance of population issues: e.g., the Department has taken a larger role in AID’s budgetary process; provided leadership in stimulating international biomedical research; opened sensitive discussions with the Vatican;2 introduced population issues into Economic Summits, CIA national security analyses, and the Carlucci and Kissinger Commissions’ reports;3 and assumed the leadership in coordinating new multilateral assistance strategies for Nigeria and Turkey.

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The Coordinator must consult or negotiate with other governments—often at head-of-state or ministerial level, with heads of several UN organizations, and with the top managements of U.S. agencies, private foundations, and NGO’s. As principal spokesman for U.S. policy, he represents the U.S. at international conferences and speaks before Congress, public interest groups, and the media in the U.S. and abroad. He is also currently serving as Interagency Coordinator for the U.S. delegation to the decennial International Conference on Population to be held in Mexico City in August.

  1. Source: Department of State, Chronological Files, 1984–1985, Lot 86D362, January 1984 #1 Completed Items. Limited Official Use. A copy was sent to Atherton.
  2. See Document 272.
  3. References are to the Commission on Security and Economic Assistance and the Kissinger Commission on Population and Development in Central America, respectively.