I was touched by Blaine Harden's account of the civil war in Angola {"12-Year War Starves, Maims Angola's Children," front page, Aug. 23}. He reports that armed units in Angola frequently attack civilians to terrorize them, and that land mines are placed amid crops to maim women and children and to prevent them from harvesting crops.

In 1977, the United States and the Soviet Union, the principal suppliers of weapons to the adversaries in this and other civil wars around the world, signed an agreement at Geneva. The purpose of the agreement was to improve the protections of the civilian population in nations where these so-called noninternational armed conflicts were occurring.

President Reagan submitted this agreement (known as the 1977 Geneva Protocol II) to the Senate for ratification last Jan. 29. The Senate has not yet acted. In a letter to the Senate, the president wrote: "If these fundamental rules were observed, many of the worst human tragedies of current internal armed conflicts could be avoided." The Soviet Union has not yet ratified this agreement.

If the United States and the Soviet Union would ratify this agreement (which requires that special measures be taken to protect children in war zones and which prohibits attacks against the civilian population, acts of terror and efforts to starve the civilian population) and if the two superpowers would agree in writing that they would not supply military assistance to any government or insurgency guilty of repeated violations of this agreement, real progress could be made toward sparing the civilianpopulation the effects of these hostilities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which sponsored the conference at which the protocol was concluded and which has representatives in most of the nations where these proxy wars are occurring, would be well situated to certify compliance or noncompliance. In the event of compliance certified by the ICRC, the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States played out in these proxy wars could continue full tilt. The difference would be fewer dead and wounded women and children. THOMAS E. McMAHON Reston