DECEMBER 4, 1948
PARIS, Friday—As I told you, we on Committee No. 3 finished all the articles for the Declaration of Human Rights on Tuesday, but it was by dint of working until ten minutes to one Thursday morning that the committee finished the preamble.
The Argentine delegate succeeded in getting his resolution through this late session. He was most anxious that Argentina's proposal for old-age care should be transmitted to the Economic and Social Council for study. This has been done, and I hope that group will refer it to the Social Commission, since this should bear some relation to existing plans for old-age care that have been tried out already in other countries. If it is to be a United Nations proposal it surely should have a universal character and embody the rest of everybody's experience throughout the world and be applicable in all countries even if in a somewhat modified form.
The whole idea had been proposed by the wife of the President of Argentina, Madame Peron, who even made a plea over the radio to the U.N. in favor of her suggestion.
Three meetings of the subcommittee on rearrangement and style were held yesterday with 11 delegates present. Work progressed extremely slowly even though we only were supposed to make changes in style that seemed appropriate.
For some strange reason the Soviet Union changed its delegate, and Mr. Bogomolov, who is the Russian Ambassador to France, has replaced Mr. Pavlov. It is very difficult for a delegate who has not carried on the work on a special subject to take it up near the end of a session in this way, but it also is hard on the committee, since there must of necessity be more delay.
One would admire the Soviet persistence in sticking to their point if it were not for the fact that so often the point is not worth sticking to. I have come to this conclusion often when anything is being translated into Russian. For instance, we spent hours yesterday arguing as to the proper place in a category of subjects to place certain words. The place really had no significance in the English language, but evidently the Soviet delegate felt that in moving those words we were changing the sense and making them less meaningful. He fought to have them kept in the original spot, until he finally was voted down. Even then he threatened to take it up in the whole committee, telling us he would make a speech of eight hours on the particular place those words should be. I repeat, in English it made no difference at all in the meaning—all it did was to make the reading smoother.
Another amusing argument took place over an early article, which said: "Every human being..." Since many articles up to that point began: "Everyone..." or, "No one..." the English-speaking members contended that the declaration would read better if wherever we spoke about "all people" or "every human being" or "every individual" we made it uniform and said "everyone" in each case.
The Cuban delegate contended that it should be "every human being" in this particular article because that implied unborn babies, whereas "everyone" did not have the same meaning. This sudden explanation evidently completely surprised the British delegate, but I was even more amused when the Russian delegate said that we had better maintain "every human being" since we must do no harm to expectant mothers.
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We had a small buffet supper last evening for the faithful secretariat staff of Committee No. 3, but as most of us had to get back to work by half-past eight we had only about an hour in which to talk to our guests and eat our supper.
I had a pleasant time sitting and talking with Dr. Malik and Mons. Laugier, and was rather surprised to find at our table a young girl who was a stranger to us. I had seen a number of other people come in and go out, on the pretext that they had come to the wrong party by mistake. But this young girl had come in ahead and sat herself with us.
It amused me because it showed that people soon learn where the parties are given which are big enough so that they will not be noticed and no one will know whether they were invited or not. Of course, we let this youngster stay.