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

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GENEVA, Thursday—We had an interesting day and a half on the article dealing with the right to own property which was suggested by us for inclusion in the covenant in the Economic and Social and Cultural section. It was certainly accepted by all that there must be a right to own property, but serious doubts arose as to whether in this part of the covenant this should include whether it is an absolute right, whether it had to be qualified and whether property had to be defined. Finally, after a day and a half of discussion, for many different reasons the commission voted not to include this right in this part of the covenant at the present.

The attitude of the United Kingdom on the covenant is very interesting. It was Britain's delegation, under the leadership of Lord Dukeston, that originally insisted a covenant should be part of the charter on human rights, feeling that these rights would only be protected if they were in an instrument that was legally binding.

Now, however, the British delegate says she will abstain from voting because she feels everything is so badly phrased. It is a "hodgepodge," she says, and she cannot commit her government to anything so confusing.

This kind of thinking is not helpful. If there is going to be an article written, one might as well get the best phrasing one possibly can and not just give up.

I think there are a number of people who agree with a few of our own lawyers in the United States in feeling that no covenant can be written at this time. Therefore, we will detract from the value of the Declaration of Human Rights if we try to put these rights into legal form. Even so, the majority, I think, really wants to write a covenant and hopes to see it ratified by a substantial number of nations.

The World Health Organization is meeting here now, and our own delegation and advisors have arrived so I had the pleasure of seeing Senator and Mrs. Herbert H. Lehman Tuesday night.

I was interested to hear that he feels as I do that living in Switzerland gives one the feeling of being cut off from the world and far removed from all the excitements and tempests that beset the rest of the world. It gives one a chance to be very much more objective than if one were at home and felt all the tensions and waves of feeling that seem to sweep over the people.

For that reason I was interested to read in the papers over here what little in General Marshall's testimony before the Senate committees was released for publication. One report said the Senators at the hearing remarked that General Marshall made an "effective answer" to many of General MacArthur's points.

I like the statement quoted from Senator Tobey of New Hampshire, who said that apparently General Marshall is a "very modest man" and that his testimony had been moderate and factual.

I had the feeling right along that General Marshall would be just that: modest, moderate and effectual. He would not be dramatic. He would not look for headlines and would not stir the passions of the people, but would appeal to their reason.

The easy way in which some people talk of just "allowing" Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's troops to fight on the mainland of China seems to ignore the facts that they would have to be equipped and they would have to be transported and protected in the landing by our action. The materiel would be ours, the transport would be ours and the air protection would be ours. That seems to me quite a responsibility to undertake.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Geneva (Switzerland) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 11, 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.