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

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GENEVA, Wednesday—We returned here late Monday after a brief but very good trip to London. Though our purpose was to do two television programs and some recordings, we managed to sandwich in one or two pleasant interludes.

I did not have to leave here until late Friday afternoon. By that time it was quite plain how we would have to stand on the main lines of the articles on social and economic and cultural rights. Only one point was actually voted on while I was gone.

It is quite evident that the basic disagreement between the Soviet Union and other countries represented on the Human Rights Commission is on the question of how any rights, no matter what they are, will be enforced.

Russia considers that there is only one way and that is through the state itself. The rest of us concede that when a state accepts an obligation it must be enforced through the laws of the state, but we also are willing to concede that there must be some international cooperation and supervision.

Without some international pact one of the main reasons for having a covenant will disappear. This is that there must be uniformity of understanding and the knowledge in all nations of what other nations actually are doing. Without these factors there would be no growth in mutual respect for the rights of all human beings. It is in this respect that we base our hopes of building a cornerstone on which peace can rest in the future.

We had an hour in Paris between plane connections on Friday evening and young friends of mine, Mr. and Mrs. John Hight, met us at the airport. They were accompanied by Lee Blanchard of our Paris Embassy. Together we went to dinner at my favorite restaurant on the Left Bank of the Seine, Les Porqueralles.

The French don't like you to hurry over a meal, but I had to consult Madame as to what we could order because we had less than an hour in which to enjoy her excellent cooking. She gave us a wonderful fish soup and then broiled langouste, which is about like our broiled lobster.

We made our plane and reached London before midnight.

On Saturday I recorded interviews to send back to the United States. As Elliott had arrived in Geneva on Thursday with his wife, to work with me for 10 days, we were able to do part of the programs together.

During our lunch hour I visited the headquarters of Lady Reading's Women's Home Industries and I have never before seen such wonderfully knitted things. The articles produced by the ladies who knit for the Women's Home Industries are for export to the United States and these wares sell in the most fashionable shops. The object, of course, is patriotic. Those participating have to stay at home, yet they can still earn dollars to help their country's economy.

We lunched at Claridge's and I dashed back to the BBC to record interviews for British consumption. One roundtable discussion had so many notables present that I felt overawed. Several of the guests had worked on the Human Rights Declaration that was passed by the Council of Europe.

Our subject was: What Can You Really Do to Promote Human Rights?

Sir John Boyd-Orr kept repeating what is perhaps the fundamental right, which we will all have to recognize before we can go further. This is the right to food. And this can be paraphrased as the right to life, or the right to work, or in a thousand other different ways. Basically, it is more important than all the other rights. This right to exist, he says, is the primary one.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Geneva (Switzerland) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 3, 1951

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.