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

[This column has emendations. View original version]


PARIS, Thursday—We have had many long and irritating sessions this week, discussing the very important Article 12 of the Declaration of Human Rights. It may be that everyone is weary, but as an example of the way grown people should not talk about each other, I think a record of these meetings would be excellent for school rooms of all countries concerned.

Even with all the discussion, we did not finish the article.

Article 12, in its original form, gives everyone the right to work under favorable conditions and at fair wages with protection against unemployment. It also provides that everyone has the right to equal pay for equal work accomplished and everyone is free to form and join trade and labor unions for protection of his rights and interests. It further states every person who works has the right to receive remuneration in proportion to his capacity and remuneration that will assure him a decent standard of living for himself and his family.

The Soviets, as usual, sought to include their regular amendment regarding race, nationality and sex in abbreviated form.

Their persistence in this respect is unwise and unnecessary, for Article 2, which their amendment is really an incomplete modification of, states very completely and without recourse that everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinctions of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion or social origin.

Thus, it is quite evident that Article 2 covers the subject very much more comprehensively than it could be covered otherwise, unless the entire article was repeated in every instance the subject was referred to. Therefore, if only "race, nationality or sex" are mentioned, it is possible in the future to interpret it in a limiting way.

We have tried over and over to point out to the USSR that Article 2 did a better job of providing for nondiscrimination than could possibly be done in their "nondiscrimination" clause. But so far we have not been successful in persuading them otherwise.

It is obvious that there are many things yet to be ironed out in these articles and with tempers as short as they are now, I wish it were possible for all of us to relax for a while and begin again refreshed. Some of the bitterly personal frictions which arose in the discussions would have eased when the sessions were resumed.

This is only wishful thinking, though, for we start in again in the morning. It rained almost the whole week; maybe that had a bad effect on everybody.

* * *

I had lunch with some of the leaders in the present French government and I confess that despite their lengthy explanations, French politics are still very complicated to me. It seems that because the French are such individualistic people, they must have a great many parties.

It simply is not possible, they told me, to have just two parties, or even three or four. There will always, they believe, be numerous small parties, exerting enormous power sometimes over the bigger ones.

They smilingly told me that one of the government's assistant ministers belonged to a party of just twelve people.

* * *

My old friend Tom Campbell and his daughter from Montana dropped in on me earlier this week. They were on their way to North Africa to aid in restoring a great wheat-growing area which was once Europe's breadbasket but now is a desert.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 19, 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.