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


NEW YORK, Wednesday—I was not really surprised when I read in the newspapers yesterday about Secretary of State Dulles' testimony on the subject of executive agreements and treaties. I had heard rumors that this abandonment of the human rights covenants was to be the position of the State Department and the Administration, but it was hard to believe that it would be done in quite the way it has been done.

It is quite evident, as the Secretary of State said, that executive agreements are necessary for the safeguarding of the country in certain situations and to prevent them or insist that they be accomplished only in cooperation with the Senate would be endangering the working of our foreign relations.

To say, however, that it is improper to have a treaty that is going to change the social customs of a country and its legal practices as regards the protection of its individual citizens and their civil liberties seems to me an utterly strange position to take. I wonder if all of the Republicans will agree with this stand on the human rights covenants.

I am very happy to say that the present Administration did not carry on the bipartisan policy followed by the Democratic Administrations in the immediate past by which many Republicans were given opportunities for service, and gained experience. Had the present Administration carried on this bipartisan policy, I might have been asked to finish out my last year on the Human Rights Commission. Had I been asked I probably would have felt obligated to accept and now I would be in the unpleasant position of having to resign in the face of the Administration's attitude toward these covenants.

Mrs. Oswald Lord, now representing the U.S. on the Human Rights Commission, must find herself in a curious position. She has joined representatives of 17 other nations in Geneva, where they are scheduled to draft two covenants that her government has announced it will not present to the Senate.

It would seem more logical to withdraw from the Human Rights Commission if this is to be the U.S. attitude. Even the Soviet Union, though many of us are fairly sure it will not ratify, have not announced through their government that they will not ratify. The Russian representatives are not in quite as awkward a position as those from the U.S.

True, this attitude will not take away from us in this country our social, political or civil rights, but there are many areas in the world where our leadership, even if it had been confined to civil and political rights, might have helped vast numbers of people to gain these rights.

In spite of all that has been said, we would have been in no danger of losing any of our rights, and there were many ways—either through reservations, through working for a Federal-state clause, or in improving the wording of the present articles—in which we could have made it possible to ratify the covenant on civil and political rights. But now we are not even going to try.

We have sold out to the Brickers and McCarthys. It is a sorry day for the honor and good faith of the present Administration in relation to our interest in the human rights and freedoms of people throughout the world.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 9, 1953

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

  • Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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  • Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
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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.