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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—The Chicago Tribune article which I have been analyzing point by point—relating to the Human Rights Commission's efforts to write two covenants—did say that Senator Bricker did not accuse the United States delegation of voting for the provision on euthanasia, but it does not mention the fact that no petition can come up for a vote.

Senator Bricker maintained that this proposal is "consistent with the Human Rights Covenant's basic legal philosophy. If the right to life is treated as a right granted by the state, it is not illogical to authorize the so-called right to death."

He and the Rev. Russell J. Clinchy, who is at present not acting as a minister but has taken a position on the staff of the Foundation for Economic Education, seem to have completely missed the point.

Fundamental human rights, according to our view, are inalienable because all human beings have something in them of the Divine and, therefore, the Divine Power gives them certain inalienable human rights. But a legal treaty must deal with the rights of states and the rights of the individual as regards the state and other individuals. This treaty is to safeguard those rights in human society.

No one knows exactly, as yet, what the wording in the eventual treaties will be. They have not yet been finally drafted by the commission. And even after they have been drafted they must pass through the hands of the Economic and Social Council and eventually through Committee 3 of the General Assembly before being voted on by the entire General Assembly. So, there are a good many steps to be gone through before you and I can look on these documents as being definitely and finally worded.

The Soviet Constitution, which Senator Bricker suggests was influential in this document, has no more to do with it than our own Constitution and Bill of Rights. In fact, it has often been stated that our Constitution and Bill of Rights were more nearly followed in certain instances than any other document.

It is true that the Soviet Constitution is based on different conceptions from ours, but so is the Islamic law, or the Hindu religion, and yet perhaps more people live according to these laws and religions than live with the belief in the Christian religion.

In drawing up the Human Rights Covenant we should attempt to state the rights of individuals in such terms as to be acceptable to all peoples and all religions. We are not trying to subject other people to our particular manner of approaching a subject; we are trying to find common ground which, in the words that we know so well, will actually bring to the people of the world an opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Senator Bricker's statement that the State Department knows "the Russian principle must be substituted for the American principle if the Department is to get the human rights proposals approved by 'communist, socialist, fascist and feudal majority' in the U.N." is utterly false. It has been accepted from the beginning that we would try primarily as a delegation to have accepted what we felt our own Senate could accept but to make every effort at the same time to meet the views of others where they did not conflict with what we felt was possible for us to accept.

Frankly, I never expected, and I surmise the Department of State never expected, that the Soviets could accept any document on human rights.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 29, 1952

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.