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Rusk VVVV, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk and Thomas Schoenbaum, circa 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Issues in international law

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Partial Transcript: ...different interpretations of the law, inadequate law, ideology and political ambition, and human frailty...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses issues like differential interpretations, informality, and jurisdiction within international law. He explains difficulties in maritime law, citing a Canadian environmental protection act and the Paquete Habana case. Rusk talks about the consensus on outerspace and promotes "instant customary law."

Keywords: Chayes; General Assembly; ICJ; S.S. Manhattan; Sputnik; Supreme Court; UN charter; customary law; treaties

00:07:13 - The Panama Canal Treaty

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to the question, why nations violate treaties: I'm sure ideology, political ambition, human frailty plays a role.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk mentions Kennedy and Johnson's respect for international law, but notes the Bay of Pigs as a significant breach. He talks about partisan controversy surrounding the Panama Canal Treaty, which was ratified under President Carter, and he recalls that violence broke out over which flag to fly at a Panamanian High School. Rusk recalls colonial attitudes, segregation, and police corruption in the Panama Canal Zone.

Keywords: Carter; Ford; Kissinger; Organization of American States; Panama Canal Company; Panama Canal Zone; Panama City; Reagan; Zonites

00:17:39 - Congressional compliance with international law

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Partial Transcript: What role can an individual congressman play in foreign affairs?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about how Congress has increased its influence over international law. He mentions that Congress has negated international treaties by refusing to abide by tariff conventions or pay dues to international organizations. He describes tensions between the AFL-CIO and the International Labor Organization that led to appropriations cuts for ILO dues, and he talks about the power the UN General Assembly exercises over the U.S. budget.

Keywords: 14th amendment; Constitution; George Meary; ILO; UN; UNESCO; appropriations; fourtteenth amendment; interstate and foreign commerce; states' rights; taxation

00:27:45 - U.S. avoidance of human rights treaties

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Partial Transcript: What about human rights that relate to the role of the Congress?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk considers why the United states has not ratified international human rights conventions, citing possible conflicts with the Constitution and U.S. capitalism, and stating that at the time of convention negotiations, many senators did not want international law to influence domestic civil rights. Rusk suggests a way to participate in the human rights regime while maintaining the primacy of U.S. law.

Keywords: Carter; Genocide convention; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Richard Russell; Truman; multilateral treaty; ratification

00:35:04 - Universal Declaration of Human Rights / State Department's perspective on civil and human rights

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was produced by the U.N. during the late forties.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk recalls Eleanor Roosevelt's work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and explains its influence on the Filartiga case. Rusk mentions the connection between regime type and human rights, commenting on the divergent views of the U.S. and Russia. He explains that although it could not voice its opinion on domestic matters, the State Department wanted the civil rights movement to succeed because segregation disrupted diplomacy with black foreign ambassadors.

Keywords: Act of State; Alien Tort Statute; Carter; Filártiga v. Peña-Irala; Helsinki Agreement; Helsinki Final Act; Human Rights Commission; Judiciary Act; common law; constitutional democracy; dictatorship

00:47:32 - Civil rights around the world

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Partial Transcript: Anything else about human rights, Pop?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes Europe's Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Court and the United States' history with civil rights. He discusses U.S. influence over civil rights in countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Brazil. Rusk talks about the Soviet Union's human rights, stating that attempting a strict treaty could lead to more conflict and abuses, and he mentions the civil rights march in Washington, D.C.

Keywords: Constitution; Declaration of Human Rights; Emancipation Proclamation; Jackson-Vanik amendment; Jews; Kissinger; Martin Luther King, Jr.; emigration

00:52:56 - Comparing executive agreements, treaties, and resolutions

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Partial Transcript: Pop, what about this issue of treaties versus executive agreements?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the constitutionality of and different levels of congressional approval for executive agreements. He distinguishes between official executive agreements and practical 'gentlemen's agreements' between state leaders. Rusk talks about military aid to Spain and weighs the merits of treating issues as either executive decisions, treaties, or legislative resolutions.

Keywords: Congress; House Foreign Affairs Committee; House of Representatives; Panama Canal Treaty; Senate; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; appropriations; diplomacy