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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—I haven't been writing a great deal about our work in Committee 3 of the present session of the United Nations General Assembly. Our agenda is rather light and as so often happens there does not seem to be the same urgency to work as there is when you know a great deal lies ahead of you.

The first item of our schedule—the Freedom on Information Convention—has been put over until the next session. The Human Rights Commission has been asked to formulate provisions on Freedom of Information which, should they not be entirely satisfactory, could be expanded by a new convention written during the next General Assembly.

The second item—dealing with granting access to news personnel and such sources of material and meetings, etc., as were not closed to the press, on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis, went through quickly.

Now we are working on a covenant, which has come from the Social Commission and deals with prostitution and the traffic in persons. This has a great many legal aspects and as we go through it slowly article by article we are finding after prolonged discussion that almost every article should have consideration from the legal committee first. I have a dislike for voting on any articles in principle without a definite text before me. I have become legal-minded enough to realize that the way you say a thing may make a good deal of difference in its ultimate interpretation. Therefore, I would prefer to see any article which may require legal phrasing go through the legal committee before we deal with it for the last time. This is, I think, the way we shall have to handle this covenant.

I wonder how many people read a little item relating to a speech made by Henry Wallace at the National Labor Conference for Peace in Chicago.

Apparently he said that it is imperative now to reach an agreement "through the United Nations to outlaw the atom bomb as an instrument of warfare." He would then proceed to destroy all stock piles and establish international inspection, allowing all nations to be free to pursue the development of atomic energy "for peaceful purposes."

There is something comic about this because had Russia ever been willing to accept international inspection, it would have been going on ever since Bernard Baruch's original offer for the control of atomic energy. Mr. Wallace, clever as he is and good scientist that he is, still chooses to ignore the fact that atomic energy cannot be developed for peaceful purposes solely. The sources are all the same and the processes are all the same up to a certain point. Then you either use it for weapons, or you use it for some other purpose.

That is why inspection is vital, and Russia—and Russia alone—has held this whole thing up because she has refused international inspection.

There are no honorable compromises on the question of inspection. The United States, the United Kingdom, the USSR—in fact, all big and little countries—must submit to the same kind of inspection if anyone is going to be safe.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 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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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.