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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


NEW YORK, Thursday—The committee for drafting an international bill of rights reconvened yesterday morning out at Lake Success. The decision was made first of all to take up the document in which the Secretariat had compared the articles on human rights in their working paper with those presented by the United Kingdom in the form of a bill. One of the members remarked that since the United Kingdom has no written constitution, it might well have received comparatively little attention in the Secretariat draft, which is a composite of the seventy or more bills sent in by nations, organizations and individuals. The documentation, of course, covers all the national constitutions which include human rights and covers various other sources of information.

It did not take us very long to go over those articles which were mentioned in both the Secretariat draft and in the United Kingdom draft, and to hear the opinions of such members of the committee as wished to speak on the articles.

By the middle of the afternoon, we took up the Secretariat draft and decided to go through each article, not for the consideration of final wording, but to decide whether the substance should be included. I hope we will err on the side of including perhaps too many rights in the draft we present to the Human Rights Commission. I think they have a right to cut down and exclude, but we should be very careful to include as much as possible in the initial bill that we draft.

* * *

The delegate from the United Kingdom pointed out that to include many rights which obviously could not be implemented would be a waste of time. The United States' position has been, however, that in this draft which will be presented to the Assembly by the Human Rights Commission, we should submit a general declaration of rights and principles. Then we could enter into conventions which would have the binding force of treaties. The United States' view is that it would be impossible to have the two things joined in the same document. Of course, this point of view may be rejected by the Commission, and we cannot know until further discussion takes place.

It is conceded by all that the drafting committee has an obligation to explore and recommend methods of implementation. The United Kingdom has covered enforcement carefully in the bill they have submitted, and Australia has suggested methods of implementation. It is obvious, however, from the resolutions passed by the Economic and Social Council, that our first duty is to prepare a tentative draft of human rights.

As we came out of our morning meeting, I saw a tremendous gathering of "news hawks" around the American members of the Atomic Energy Commission. I was tempted to join the group but decided it would be difficult to hear in that crowd, and that I had better go and keep my luncheon engagement.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 13, 1947

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.