SEPTEMBER 8, 1956
GENEVA —This is quite the busiest meeting that I have ever attended. In fact, I begin to feel that government meetings are in some ways easier than these unofficial World Federation meetings.
We began the day at 9 o'clock with delegation meetings, but it was really 9:20 before everyone assembled and business began. As a result, we were late in getting up to the Palais des Nations where we are still holding our meetings because there are plenary sessions and invited speakers.
During the morning the subject was economic and social cooperation in the United Nations. A representative of technical assistance, James Keen, gave a good account of the work going on all over the world in that field. The representative from Sierra Leone in Africa read a most interesting message on the need for economic aid from a representative in his country who could not attend.
Dr. Lange of Poland made a very fine and objective speech on the cooperation we should try to achieve between countries of different economic and political systems.
In the discussion period, a delegate from the United Kingdom, while praising Dr. Lange's speech, said he must make one slight correction, namely, that you could not divide the countries in as clear-cut a manner as Dr. Lange had done. He explained that there are many capitalist countries now taking on certain elements from the Socialist countries and some of the Socialist countries were reverting to certain capitalist influences.
Quite truthfully, he said he was on the side of trying to prevent the growth of Socialist influences and he realized that in Socialist countries the governments were doing all they could to prevent certain capitalist tendencies to prevail. But he did not mean they would succeed and this narrowing process might well go on and be one of the factors in bringing nations eventually closer together.
I had lunch with Dame Catherine Courtney of the United Kingdom delegation. She is a charming person with many years of experience in the international organization field.
I was glad to find that she felt, as I did, that our effort in the World Federation of U.N. Associations should be, as far as possible, concentrated on getting member nations to establish U.N. associations. In this way, all the people would be informed about the U.N. and, where possible, would encourage their participation in some activity which would bring them in personal touch with the work of the U.N. or one of its specialized agencies.
She felt, as I did, that the long discussions on controversial subjects and the effort to pass resolutions which would be sent to the governments of various countries or to the United Nations was not a very fruitful way to spend one's time. For the Federation can do very little to push its resolutions and the chances are that the attention they will receive in the end is not very great.
She felt, and so do I, that one of the great values of the Federation is the contacts people establish with those of other countries. From my point of view, it is a great opportunity to meet the women of other countries, since there are many things we have in common, and we may be able to override certain political difficulties better than the representatives of governments because we represent the thinking of ordinary people in our countries.
During the afternoon, the speakers explained the peacetime uses of atomic energy. It was very informative, but it is a more complicated subject and was harder to follow than some of the other speeches.
(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 8, 1956
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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