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

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LONDON—Since we are very near the end of this first session of the UNO conference, perhaps it would be well to evaluate some of its real accomplishments. The greatest, I think, is that at the end we still are a group of 51 nations working together. When I was originally asked to come over, I thought that all we would accomplish would be the organization of machinery and the election of a Secretary General. I felt that then it would be only wise to let a little time elapse for the Secretariat to be chosen and learn to work together and for the Secretary General to familiarize himself with his permanent home in the United States, even though it might be in temporary quarters there. It would also be necessary for him to get to know the various people chosen to work for their governments on councils and commissions, since these bodies continue their work even when the Assemblies are not in session.

That is not, however, all that has happened. To be sure, the organizing was done, but what really proved that the organization has life and strength is what happened beyond that stage. The first important thing, I think, is that the Charter stood the test of the implementation period and proved that it is an adequate instrument under which machinery could be set up. Next, most of us were balancing the potential strength of the UNO against the first effort made through the League of Nations. Many of the European countries which had worked in that body, particularly those men who put their whole hearts into it, were hopeful of the success of this new organization but, perhaps because of their experience, a little skeptical. The peoples of their countries in many cases could hardly be aroused to enthusiasm now for anything except where the next loaf of bread is coming from. It would have to be proved to them that this organization affected their daily lives or there would be no glimmer of interest.

It seems to me that the most encouraging thing at the start is the fact that the five great powers who fought and won the war are here together to work out the machinery whereby we will try to create in the world an atmosphere in which a peaceful world might develop. In one very important way, this organization differs from the League of Nations. When the League was suggested the U. S., through its President, was deeply involved. But under our kind of government it requires not only the interest of the Executive but the cooperation of both major political parties in our legislative bodies. They were not present at the framing of the League and took no part in its formation. When it came to be presented to Congress, it was possible for the Republican party to prevent the U. S. from becoming part of the organization. The people of our country were indifferent. War is never popular in the U. S. and, never having had it actually on our own soil since the days of the Civil War, we were always obliged to send our men out of the country, which makes the whole proceeding much remoter from the civilian population. When the losses had been accepted and the men were home again, our great desire in the past has been to forget that war ever existed.

This time, however, I think we have learned the lesson that becoming involved in war does not lie entirely in any one nation's hands and that therefore we must concern ourselves in the affairs of the world, particularly in working for peaceful solutions of world difficulties. Otherwise, no matter how hard we try to keep aloof, we will wake up some morning to find ourselves involved. Fortunately this time, we now have on the U. S. delegation, and we had in San Francisco when the Charter was written, representatives of our Foreign Affairs Committee in both Senate and House. Both our major political parties are represented and therefore they go back to report to their co-workers and their constituents throughout the nation, and support of the country on a non-political basis is assured. For this reason, I feel that in the organization of the UNO there is a great strength which was lacking in the League, for no machinery to help build peace could be of any value unless the five great powers were involved and had to come to an agreement on whatever measures came before them.

* * *

With the end of this session in sight, everyone is anxious to get through now and go home. Since the Security Council is getting on with its work and the other committees seem also to be moving to a conclusion, I think it quite natural we should all have the urge to get back to our occupations at home which we have neglected for so long. My letters from home are becoming very urgent. I broke a great many engagements when I came over here and, quite aside from the fact that the part of my family which lives near me thinks I have been away quite a long time, some of the people who counted on me for various engagements during this current month are beginning to be a little worried as to whether I will really arrive or not!



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • London (England, United Kingdom) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 11, 1946

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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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.