APRIL 29, 1949
NEW YORK, Thursday—We had an amusing situation in Committee #3 yesterday afternoon during the argument on the inclusion of the "Colonial Clause" in one of the Covenants on Freedom of Information. This is a very simple clause which the United Kingdom is always obliged to ask to have included. Under the constitutions which the United Kingdom has granted to some of its self-governing territories, the government of Great Britain has no right to make certain decisions for those territories. The respective legislatures decide on questions of domestic policy.
Therefore, when the United Kingdom signs a convention it always has to ask to include a clause which says, in brief, that this convention will go into effect immediately within the United Kingdom and its dependencies except where these dependencies have certain constitutional rights of self-government. In the case of these self-governing territories the United Kingdom undertakes to put before them as quickly as possible the undertakings in this convention and to urge them to adhere to the convention.
Always the Soviet Union and its satellites argue that this is pure camouflage, that it is just because the metropolitan territory does not wish to see these colonial territories benefitted and therefore will not adhere for them. Explanations seem to fall upon deaf ears, and the Soviets are often joined by some of the South American countries. In this particular case they also were joined by the Arab states.
Yesterday we saw the ludicrous situation of the Soviet Union arguing passionately that all the colonial territories should be given the advantage which adherence to this convention would bring after arguing up to this point against everything in the convention.
The opposition on the part of Great Britain, said the Soviets, simply meant that Great Britain did not want reporters in these territories telling the world what conditions they found there. Russia seemed to forget completely that for days it had been arguing that this convention was a very bad one, that it invaded the domestic rights of states and that it had voted against practically every provision! Suddenly, what she considered so bad she was contending must be granted to the colonial territories.
The United Kingdom stated its case extremely clearly, but I think it was the final statement of Erwin D. Canham, U.S. representative, pointing out the ludicrous argument that was being put before the committee which finally brought a good vote in favor of the colonial clause. The first part of the Polish amendment was included in the United States amendment, and we felt that the article finally adopted was very good.
One cannot help hoping that when the Soviet Union formulates its plans for Berlin that such plans may be in terms as to permit negotiation and final acceptance of peace in that area. This may bring up some changes in the future policy in Germany as a whole, but it would be a great encouragement to people everywhere to feel that the United States and Russia are no longer glaring at each other in hostile fashion across an imaginary line in Berlin.
Every move toward some kind of better understanding gives hope that we are moving in the right direction and that the Soviet Union is beginning to understand that it has no monopoly on the desire for peace. We want it and are as anxious to achieve it as Russia is.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1949, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC., REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
Names Mentioned or Referenced
- New York (N.Y., United States)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 29, 1949
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
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