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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—A letter has come to me which shows how little people really understand what goes on in the United Nations. It reads: "A slanderous charge is going around which I hope you will give me your authority to correct. The charge, as I understand it, is that a resolution was brought up in the United Nations to prohibit the sending of women and children in the displaced persons' camps to South American countries for purposes of chattel and white slavery, and that you voted 'no' on the resolution. In other words, that you approved of selling the women and children. This on the face of it is incredible."

It certainly is incredible and no such resolution was ever brought up. The displaced persons' camps in Germany are operated by the International Refugee Organization, for which a charter was written which would certainly prohibit any such outrageous proceedings.

* * *

I think, however, I can explain how this curious rumor has spread around. A resolution did come up to transfer from the League of Nations to the United Nations certain conventions prohibiting traffic in women and children and traffic in obscene publications.

The United Kingdom, which adhered to these conventions under the League of Nations, insisted that the United Nations should continue the practice of allowing self-governing territories, such as the British have within their Empire, to consider these conventions for themselves and to enter into them separately. In other words, a territory having a legislature of its own could not be pledged without consultation.

All territories and possessions of the United Kingdom have adhered to the conventions. The United Kingdom contended that this was the correct democratic procedure and the best method of training people for complete self-government. The United States backed the United Kingdom's position and voted for preserving the original language of the conventions, which we thought preferable to a change which would make the pledge of adherence only necessary from a central government.

The USSR insisted that the United Kingdom and the United States, because we wished to proceed in what we considered a more democratic way, desired to permit traffic in women and children in colonial territories. They were apparently unable to understand the fact that every one of the British territories had adhered to the conventions, so that they were all separately pledged to obliterating any such traffic—which placed greater responsibility on them and in every way would bring better results.

The points were technical and I suppose that led to these strange rumors.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 6, 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.