The Carter administration's human rights campaign "was never really set down, thought out and planned" in advance, acording to U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, and he has been surprised at the extent of the President's commitment.

"I must admit that I never anticipated such a strong policy on human rights," Young said in a long and wide-ranging interview published in the July issue of playboy magazine. "The commitment and determination President Carter feels as quite a surprise to me."

"But I've always trusted his instincts," Young added.

And the human rights campaign can be "a legitimate instrument of U.S. foreign policy" and if it involves a "combination of symbolic acts and cold, hard political thinking," he said. "To be credible, the thrust of the human rights issue must be universal."

In his talk with Playboy's senior articles editor, Peter Ross Range, Young covers a wide range of issues, among them his role as a civil rights leader, the development of his relationship with Carter, his days as a student at Howard University, and the way he has come across in the press.

Young frequently has been embroiled in controversy because of his public statements. He acknowledged that his magazine interview, which he said he did not clear with the White House, probably will cause more fuss.

Indeed, many of Young's Playboy comments - if taken without his explanations - may in fact contribute to what he called "my problem . . . with the headline writers."

For example, he said former President's Nixon and Ford failed to develop a creditable foreign policy with underdeveloped nations because both were "racists."

"They were racists not in the aggressive sense but that they had no understanding of the problems of colored peoples anywhere," Young said.

Young said he personally tries to "demoralize racism and call is ethnocentrism." He admits he himself has been guility of it, noting his discovery years ago that "I had been programmed by this society to respond in a racist way to Orientals."

On other matters, Young said:

"The Nixon administration bent over backward for the Russians and, in a sense, sold out to the Soviet Union" in the 1974 Vladivostok agreements which created nuclear arms ceilings that "were so high we couldn't possibly reach them, anyway."

[The Vladivostok agreements called for ceilings higher than the United States had projected for its deployment of strategic nuclear arms, but lower than the Russians' projected deployment, thus requiring the Russians to make some cutback.]

"Deaths in Uganda seems to be a matter of government policy on specific groups of people" carried out by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

"My faith is that all men can be saved, but I didn't want Hitler to be saved and I don't want Idi Amin to be saved . . . I want him to disappear from the face of the earth. Go on home and claim his reward."

"My sympathy with white South Africans is strictly as human beings. They remind me very much of white Southerners in the United States. They're stubborn, but they're also very sensitive, religious people."

"If you say something, you ought to be man enough to take the consequences for it. If you're not man enough, you shouldn't say it in the first place."

Americans should not upset by Cuban activities in Angola because "a thousand Cubans, or 20,000 Cubans or even 100,000 Cubans anywhere in the world are no threat to the United States."

Asked if he was saying that all former colonies need some sort of Western-imposed order, and if that wasn't neo-colonialism, Young replied, "I think they need order. They need a rational transition period . . . I believe in neo-colonialism when it's moving in the right direction. I don't think that the Western powers that took over a continent in past years, cut up nations, divided and disrupted tribal life, can just pick up their marbles and go home."

"I guess I find it impossible to say 'No comment.' . . . But now the press has me paranoid. I hate to, but maybe I'll just have to be rude."