DECEMBER 16, 1947
GENEVA —In the work of the Human Rights Commission during the past few days, one of the difficulties has been that three of the members, who were delayed in arriving here, had not been with us for the preliminary discussions. Nor were they members of the working groups that prepared the draft texts of the declaration of rights and the convention on rights. Hence, when the full commission began considering the documents, those members wanted to make suggestions and changes which already had been discussed at length and on which compromises had been reached.
I hope very much that in our next session, which I'm told will take place at Lake Success toward the middle of May, we may have all the delegates present from the start and that they will be able to stay until the draft bill of rights has been carefully finished. It doesn't seem to me very important at this session to go over the exact wording with care, since that must be changed later—first in the meeting of the drafting committee and then in the meeting of the full commission in May. But it is important that the substance be included in the present draft, since this will go to all the governments for their comments.
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One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is whether I think we can produce a draft on which the Eastern European group and the United States can agree. I think this is quite possible. They like greater emphasis on the authority of the state, and when it comes to social and economic rights, they are most anxious to spell them out in detail. The rights and freedoms of the individual, and religious and spiritual questions, don't seem to them as important in a draft of this kind. But certainly a balance can be reached.
Participation in discussion has been so much greater in this meeting than before, and so much more valuable, that I feel very hopeful of the progress which has been made. However, no one can ever tell me that women like to talk longer than men! It has been extremely difficult to find any way in which we could shorten the discussion on any single point. That wouldn't matter so much if this meeting were not just before Christmas, with a deadline for finishing our work!
I told the commission the other day that we'd still be here next spring if everyone continued to be so very insistent on presenting so many different shades of opinion. As a result, we decided that once the text was fairly satisfactory, those who wished to have special points of view drawn to the attention of the governments could put these in as footnotes. This, I hope, will be a satisfactory solution.
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Even here, manuscripts are sent to me to read, and one came to me from Palestine which gives some pathetic pictures of incidents in the lives of displaced persons. The writer cannot understand why some magazine in the United States doesn't accept this article, and I'm sure he'll find my explanation very difficult to understand. But the truth is that the English, which is a translation from a number of other languages isn't exactly easy to read, even though the ideas expressed and the word pictures painted are in themselves most interesting.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 16, 1947
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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