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


PARIS, Monday—Last week ended in a rush. I dashed from session to luncheon, back to session and then to dinner and back to session again.

Friday we had a morning, afternoon and evening session scheduled. I tried to sandwich social activities into this jam-packed schedule, but I wasn't too successful, though I did manage to lunch with the Yugoslav delegation on split-second timing. I missed dinner with Mr. James McDonald, our envoy to Israel, and Miss Gertrude Ely, both of whom I wanted to see very much. I had a few words with Miss Ely before the evening session began, but I missed Mr. McDonald entirely.

I was very interested in Miss Ely's trip here for the children's emergency fund, but we had to postpone detailed discussion.

* * *

Article 23 of the Declaration of Human Rights was discussed and amended. It reads:

"Firstly, everyone has the right of education which shall be free at least insofar as elementary and fundamental education is concerned. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available. There shall be equal access to higher education on a merit basis.

"Secondly, parents have the priority right to choose the kind of education that shall be given their children.

“Thirdly, education shall be directed to full development of the human personality and to strengthening the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to the promotion of understanding of tolerance and friendship among nations, religious and racial groups as well as activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”

I must say I do not like the composition of this article as much as that which was originally drafted. The effort to get in everybody's ideas, I think, resulted in so much detail that there is the risk of clouding the entire meaning of educational freedom.

There were many unnecessary improvements to the original article, and I think it is now overloaded and somewhat meaningless.

There are some things in all the paragraphs which I hope the style committee will be permitted to change for the sake of better English, before this draft is finally presented to the General Assembly. For instance, I don't know what "priority right" really means, but I am told it is acceptable.

I particularly liked the simpler wording in the original draft of this article, and was especially impressed with its last paragraph which read, "promotion of understanding tolerance and friendship among all peoples." Instead of the wording we now have which specifies "nations, religious and racial groups" and tacks on activities of the United Nations.

I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that in a document of this kind, which should stand before the world for years to come, at least it is a mistake to emphasize the fact that there are racial and religious groups that are intolerant toward each other. It might be better to simply say all peoples shall strive for understanding, tolerance and friendship.

When you work with an international group, you learn that one person's point of view must be subordinated to the will of the majority and so Article 23 passed as I have given it here.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 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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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.