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

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PARIS, Friday—In Committee Three (Social) on Tuesday afternoon after much discussion through the whole afternoon on the manner of voting on the different amendments, we finally succeeded in voting on them all and ended by keeping Article Three of the Bill of Human Rights exactly as it was in the original draft presented by the Human Rights Commission.

It reads: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of his person."

There was a long argument as to the exact meaning of the words "security of his person," and those of us who had served on the Human Rights Commission were called upon to try to recall what had been in the minds of the delegates to the commission when they discussed this phrase at Lake Success last spring.

Curiously enough, if you have listened to arguments and counter-arguments in a great many meetings, you become somewhat confused in the long run as to what happened in the first or third meeting or in a draft committee meeting or in the commission meetings themselves. But one thing I was very sure of, and that is that these words, "security of his person," included all the different points of view. These were brought forth by the Latin-American delegates who wanted to express physical integrity and by the French delegate who was anxious that we might include a legal definition and by others who wanted to feel that there also was some consideration given to the moral and social and economic phases of security.

Though certain of the delegates voted for parts of Article Three as they were put before us, they nevertheless refrained from voting for it as a whole, largely because they felt that it was not precise enough and did not include a definition of the way in which the rights set forth were to be achieved.

Some of the rest of us feel that this should be done in the covenant. We feel that the declaration does not need to be quite as precise or need to carry the methods of implementation.

I hope that the next several articles will not take so long for adoption, for there are many amendments to almost all of them, and if the arguments are as extended as they have been so far it does not look as if the draft declaration could be finished. I think the majority of the delegates on our committee would really like to see the General Assembly adopt the declaration at the present session, even though it did not contain the exact wording or even all the articles on the subjects each individual delegate feels is necessary to make it entirely a complete document.

There is a movement on now to request the committee to hear a statement on the situation confronting the Arab refugees in Palestine. The item on refugees does not come up immediately on our agenda, but we could of course interrupt our debate to hear a special statement at any time, particularly if the speaker is anxious to leave Paris, as appears to be the case.

* * *

The other afternoon a group of young students from the Philosophy Department of the Sorbonne came to see me. They are most anxious to establish a personal relationship with young people studying in the same field in the United States.

They told me that the sympathy of college and university students in the U.S. has been amply demonstrated. The Sorbonne has received considerable amounts of food and clothing, but these youngsters say that is all very impersonal. What they long for is real person-to-person contact, an interchange of letters telling their thoughts, and the opportunity to set down their real needs.

These young people are desperately anxious to avoid another war and are eager to gain a better understanding of the thoughts of other young people. They feel they are in a very desperate situation as they watch the political and economic struggles sweep over their heads and as they experience the results of these struggles in the difficulties of their daily lives.

One of these young men came out of Roumania with no passport and now is working all day in a store unpacking boxes and studying every night at the Sorbonne. He has made a plea to university students in the U.S. to organize assistance in Germany for students seeking to escape from countries that are being overtaken by Communist governments and where it is no longer safe to remain if you hold opposing political views.

I have passed this request for closer contacts between this Sorbonne group and groups in U.S. colleges on to the UNESCO, hoping that they can make the necessary arrangements. Perhaps, though, there will be some initiative in the U.S., and groups there will form to seek out their opposite members in the universities of Europe.

I should think that dried milk, chocolate, sugar, vitamins and even powdered eggs and canned butter would be most acceptable gifts, and of course discarded clothes that still have a good deal of wear in them would be welcomed.

Most of these students have to spend a good part of their time in unheated rooms, and I mean rooms that are almost as cold as is the outdoors.

Even in our hotel for a time we had only a small amount of heat in the radiators in the evenings, but now it seems to be increasing and we have it a good part of the day. I am afraid, however, that at home we would not consider the temperature adequate, according to our rather exaggerated ideas of indoor heating.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 23, 1948

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.