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

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NEW YORK—There is something slightly ludicrous about all the excitement going on in New York City over the heads of state who have come here to lead their delegations in the current United Nations session.

The ludicrous part of it is the foolish demonstrations that develop and against which the poor New York City police have to keep constant vigil. As you look at the demonstrators you wonder if some of them know why on earth they are there at all. Some youngsters in one of the picket lines the other day announced to all and sundry that they were being paid a dollar an hour. Who paid them?

While these demonstrations may have their ludicrous side, they also are very sad. And I, for one, wish that we could all remember that, much as we may dislike certain heads of state and what they represent, they are here by right under our agreement with the U.N. All member nations have a right to attend and to put whom they wish on their delegations.

Some of the demonstrations which I saw in the form of car decorations are quite outrageous. The President has asked that we treat these U.N. representatives with courtesy—and it would seem obvious that the less advance attention they get the better it would be.

The feeling of refugees from certain countries against certain heads of government is understandable and excusable. It is, of course, purely emotional. But the rest of the world should behave with dignity and restraint. We should bear in mind that the objective of the U.N. is to bring about a peaceful world and, in order to achieve that, the heads of all nations must be able to talk to one another under suitable conditions. And our people must be mature enough to behave with dignity and calm. Otherwise, we shall never bring about a situation in which there can be any greater agreement than there has been so far.

Tuesday's vote in the U.N. special session was a tremendous tribute to Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold. The adopted resolution, passed 70 to 0 with a number of abstentions, was sponsored by 17 Asian and African countries. It established a new conciliation committee which is to try to end internal conflict among the Congolese, and the committee is to consist of Asian and African representatives appointed by the Secretary General and the existing Congo advisory committee.

In addition, in passing the resolution the General Assembly called on all states to refrain from sending military aid to the Congo except on request of the U.N. through the Secretary General. This, of course, will only be done for a temporary period until the Congolese can work out their difficulties and have set up a central government. After that, it is hoped there will be no further need for U.N. military forces.

What is going on these days in the U.N. is of great importance to the future of a peaceful world. The U.N. is establishing itself more and more as a place where reasonable decisions are being reached.

Many people have had the fear that the new African nations and many of the Asians, too, would vote purely out of self-interest and often just to show that they had the power of numbers to outvote great nations if they wished, regardless of the wisdom of what they were doing. It looks as though this might be disproved in this session.

And it might very well be that the small nations would show both wisdom and discretion and perhaps prove that they are able to think on world levels as well as on personal lines. This would give greater confidence to the great powers.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 22, 1960

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.