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

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GENEVA, Tuesday—On Friday we had long discussion in the Human Rights Commission on the right to education and what that right should mean. In the covenant it does not seem practical to go into detail, but where education is concerned most of the delegates feel it so important that it is difficult to condense all the things they want to say.

The specialized agency particularly concerned with education is the Economic and Social Council. Jaime Torres-Bodet, director of UNESCO, has a deep conviction that no democracy can exist without education. Little can be done, he maintains, to improve living standards of people throughout the world or to make human rights a reality and use them to bring about peace unless education is made available to every child and some kind of basic education made possible for every adult who is at present illiterate. It is quite obvious that for many countries this is a long-term program. Therefore, wanting to state the full ideal and yet to meet the realities of the situation, Mr. Torres-Bodet set forth the objective and said that they should be achieved by every state submitting a plan within the next two years.

There was no time limit for these plans to come to fruition, so one of our delegates remarked we might term them "the 100-year plans."

It seems to me a mistake to put into the covenant any such plans that should remain in the hands of UNESCO. We should merely state the rights that exist within the limits of our countries' resources and with due regard to each pattern of society.

I must tell you a little bit about one of the round-table broadcasts I did for the French audience in Paris. It was a discussion with Jules Romain, the author; Professor Rene Cassin, a co-member of the Human Rights Commission, and a gentleman whose name I never did quite get but who said he was a marxist collectivist. The moderator was a very mild-mannered man who hardly interrupted us at all. The subject under discussion was: "Will Peace or War Be the Result of the Economic or Political Situation Or Is the Final Decision in the Hands of a Few Men?"

Our Marxist friend was most voluble and the rest of us all seemed to be arguing with him. He seemed to feel that anyone who believed in capitalism automatically believed in war. He maintained that capitalism must bring war or rather it had within itself the seeds of war. He did not seem to be arguing in favor of the present Communist government in the Soviet Union but for his ideal of what he thought Karl Marx intended us to have in an ideal collectivist society.

I suggested at one point that liberty was the only word I had not heard him utter. He insisted it was a much-abused word but he didn't quite dare to say he did not believe in some kind of personal liberty.

I wonder whether any radio show at home would be happy to put on a real Marxist even if he were faced by three people holding distinctly other opinions. They don't seem as troubled over here by the presentation of different ideological ideas.

From the newspapers I gather that we are having plenty of different military ideas at home and I am curious to see what all the testimony may lead to. There is great interest here in this particular discussion and the foreign correspondents write quite fully for their papers about it. I was glad to be able to read French, English and Swiss accounts with their reactions to the latest testimony.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Geneva (Switzerland) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 9, 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.