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


HYDE PARK, Sunday—Although I cannot give you the wording of the articles in full, I would like to summarize a little of the work that has actually been accomplished on the Covenant of Human Rights during this session of the Human Rights Commission. I think I can give you an idea of the kind of document this will be by citing the first paragraph of each article.

The preamble and first four articles have not yet been written. Article Five, however, begins: "No one shall be deprived of his life"—and then lists the exceptions to this right.

Article Six has been referred to the World Health Organization for advise. Article Seven reads: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel or degrading punishment."

Article Eight: "No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. No one shall be held in servitude." This is followed by a list of exceptions.

Article Nine begins: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention." Then follows the legal safeguards to preserve this right.

Article Ten: "No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfill a contractual obligation."

Article Eleven: "(1)—"Subject to any general law adopted for specific reasons of national security, public safety or public health: (a) Every one has the right to liberty of movement and is free to choose his residence within the borders of each state; (b) any one shall be free to leave any country, including his own. (2) Any one is free to return to the country of which he is a national."

Article Twelve: "No alien legally admitted to the territory of a state shall be expelled therefrom except on such grounds and according to such procedure and safeguards as are provided by law."

Article Thirteen: "In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, every one is entitled to a fair and public hearing, by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law." The rest of the article details all the safeguards of his legal rights and the manner in which they must be protected.

Article Fourteen was passed at the very end of the session on Friday afternoon and I do not have the exact wording with me. What I have given you, however, will be sufficient to indicate that this document, when passed by the General Assembly and ratified by each state which accepts the commitments in it, will not contain much that is unfamiliar to the American people.

A number of non-governmental organizations have representatives always on hand at our sessions, and some have been heard by the commission. One day a member of the American Bar Association came up to me at the end of the session and told me that he was watching the proceedings with great interest. I hope that many representatives of the bar will come and listen and watch the document grow. This particular representative told me he had had a rather hazy impression beforehand of the difficulties encountered owing to the various legal systems represented by delegates from various countries. He was also impressed by the difficulties of correct translation, which, of course, is more important in a paper which is to have the weight of a treaty.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 6, 1949

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.