The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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LONDON—Looming above every other accomplishment of the first session of the UNO Assembly, as I pointed out in my column yesterday, is the great accomplishment of having brought together 51 nations, set up an organization and actually seen it begin to function without breaking apart.

The second greatest achievement seems to me to be that, in spite of a very complicated system of election, which caused some confusion, we still managed to elect fifteen judges from all over the world as members of the International Court of Justice. These judges are well distributed geographically, representing the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Belgium, Norway, Yugoslavia, Poland, Egypt, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and El Salvador.

The third great achievement, I think, is the fact that this new organization had presented to it, through the Security Council, some very thorny questions and, instead of putting them off, got down to work and dealt with them. First, there was the question between Russia and Iran. Then came Russia's accusations against Britain for having troops in Greece. Though heated words were exchanged between Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin and Vice Foreign Commissar Andrei Vishinsky, a solution to both these questions was achieved.

Some people feared that the plain speaking which has gone on in these Security Council meetings would create such rifts that the representatives of the nations involved could not go on working together, but that fear was soon set at rest. At the end of the dispute over Greece, Mr. Bevin and Mr. Vishinsky shook hands warmly. Both of them seem quite able to consider these arguments on the level of any parliamentary debate. We in the United States should be well accustomed to this, for we have seen many a man attack the political theories of an opponent with vitriolic words, then link arms and go out to dinner with him.

Though there are some questions still unsettled before the Security Council, I think the fact that some decisions have been reached shows a healthy strength and, above all, a determination among the five great powers to reach agreement and stand together in peace as they did in war. If that spirit is maintained, any skepticism among European nations in regard to UNO will undoubtedly be lessened and, without question, the interest of the people of the United States will be completely aroused, since they will see in this organization a real instrument for peace.

* * *

Personally, I am very glad that it was decided to place the permanent headquarters in the United States. Since European nations are more international-minded, they are not apt to forget that peace requires as much attention as war. But the United States, because of its early isolation, has lived in what many might call a Fools' Paradise.

In the past, some security was created by our ocean barriers and we were far less dependent on trade with other nations. Today, all thinking people in the United States know that oceans are no longer a protection. Nevertheless, some of our old spirit of self-sufficiency clings to us. That is the reason why I feel that bringing UNO's home to our nation probably will insure, as nothing else would, the active, wholehearted support of our people for this effort, which is the last and best hope for our civilization.

Our newspapers give much less space to news that comes from faraway places unless it has some sensational value. But with the UNO headquarters in the United States, there should be a constant flow of information about its activities which should receive adequate coverage. Much depends, of course, on the chairmen of the various councils and committees which will be more or less constantly in session. If these chairmen establish good relations with our press and have a sense of the information which should reach the public, I think there is no question that UNO's activities will get more attention from our nation because they are being carried on in the United States.

I think, too, that everything possible should be done to make it interesting and easy for the average individual to visit the UNO headquarters and find out how the organization works. At this writing, the exact location has not yet been decided upon, but I think a site not too far from New York would be a happy choice. New York, like London, is a crossroads for the world and, if the UNO headquarters were a pleasant day's excursion from this center, I think people from all over the world would arrange to include this as one of the places they must visit when they are in New York.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • London (England, United Kingdom) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 12, 1946

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.