FEBRUARY 9, 1952
PARIS, Friday—Before taking off on my round-the-world trip home, which begins Saturday, I want to write a few words about our final General Assembly meeting, held just before we adjourned last Tuesday. It was a very tense situation, for Chile's amendment, which would have directed the course of human rights was still under discussion and we had a preponderance of speakers on the Chilean side of the question.
The delegation from Chile did succeed in changing several votes and called for a roll call, but it failed by four votes to change the previous decision of the committee to write two covenants.
There was one resolution that I felt really sad about. This one—on the self-determination of peoples—had been introduced by the delegation from Afghanistan, but by the time it came to voting it had been so amended that it was impossible to vote for it.
In the first place, in one paragraph the same thing was repeated twice. A Danish delegate tried very hard by asking to have it voted on in parts and make us vote on the repetitious phrase in one place and in another place, on the part that directed the Human Rights Commission, to put the resolution in specific wording as an article instead of allowing any leeway to frame an article that might state more clearly how and when the self-determination of peoples was to be granted.
In any case, the second paragraph of the operative part of this self-determination of peoples resolution simply made it impossible for anyone that had any respect for the Human Rights Commission and for nonrepetitive wording to vote for the resolution as a whole.
It is certain that the commission will have to draft an article that will read only "all people shall have the right to self-determination." But I suppose it might be possible to draft an alternative article, adding a few necessary qualifications and let the Economic and Social Council or the General Assembly decide which is the way they really want this article drawn up in the end.
I was deeply relieved at the decision to draw up two covenants. In this way I think we are more apt to have immediately large numbers of ratifications on civil and political rights. And if that covenant is ratified now in various countries I think the economic and social rights will stand a better chance for ratification separately in the ensuing months or years.
There may, of course, be a number of nations able to sign both covenants at the same time, and the larger that group is the more gratifying it will be.
I am sure our Soviet friends will not be able to vote for any covenant, and I can already hear the speeches they will give on the subject. They will probably go something like this: "Since the covenants are divided, the Soviet nations cannot possibly give their consent to such a destructive method of securing human rights and, therefore, they will take no steps toward assuring them."
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1952, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
Names Mentioned or Referenced
- Paris (France)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 9, 1952
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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