NOVEMBER 18, 1948
PARIS, Wednesday—Upon my return from London early this week, I was delighted to find that good progress was still being made by the Human Rights Commission.
Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights, I found, had been argued out and adopted. It reads:
"Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country directly and through freely chosen representatives.
"Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
"The will of the people shall be the basis of authority in the government. This will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be universal and equal and which shall be held by secret vote or by the equivalent of free voting procedures."
The first paragraph was passed in its original form without difficulty, but the second was altered as a result of criticisms by Americans who felt it might have given rise to the idea that any government was obliged to employ anyone who wishes to be in government service, regardless of whether or not the government considered them desirable employees. From my point of view, the revised version is clearer and better.
The third paragraph probably caused the greatest difficulty, and a great many people will wonder at the last phrase, "or by the equivalent of free voting procedures."
Most of us think if any election is universal and equal by secret ballot, it is fairly well safeguarded. But this line was included to protect the rights and customs of people who may be able to manage their own affairs and perhaps have ways of doing so, but who cannot read or write.
All these little peculiarities, which one does not think of at first, always come up for discussion in the final analysis of an article of this kind. Though troublesome, they are of great importance to democracy and the development of democratic procedures throughout the world.
* * *
A resolution covering what should be done for Arab refugees was very thoroughly canvassed, and there is a great deal of interest as to who shall be the director of this move.
A number of people have been mentioned, but I am told that the Arabs hoped Mr. Bayard Dodge would be selected. Mr. Dodge, who formerly was head of the Near East College of Beirut, is well known and trusted by the Arabs. In addition, everyone who knows Mr. Dodge is convinced that he will do the right thing for all people concerned. His family long has taken great pleasure in that area of the world and he has the reputation of integrity and unselfish service in the public interest.
* * *
The flight back from London was very delightful. The weather was clear and we could see the whole countryside in all its autumnal splendor.
I was very impressed with the experience of one of the pilots on our plane. It was his first visit to France since he was shot down over Paris during the war. He was very anxious to see the French family which had sheltered him from the Germans and aided his escape to Britain.
He was deeply grateful to them and to the others who had helped him. And admired their great courage, for he knew, as they did, that it meant death to them by the firing squad if they were caught.
He said he would like more Americans to visit France in order that they might fully appreciate the great sacrifices made by the French people during the war. He thinks, as I do, that visiting Americans would have a better understanding and appreciation of the Marshall Plan and other aid efforts.
I also had the opportunity to talk with a young enlisted man. He was depressed because his wife and two small children could not be here with him. He lacks one stripe in rating for the privilege.
Even if they were, I doubt if there would be much contentment and happiness for them with the situation as it is here. Europe is too upset right now for settling families.
I feel, however, that men stationed here should be rotated more often, but I realize that this is difficult and that it is just one more of those dislocations created by war. It should make us work even harder to prevent it happening again!
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1948, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC., REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 18, 1948
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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