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

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GENEVA, Friday—I was not sure that the Soviet delegate on Wednesday morning did not make a fair criticism of the Commission on Human Rights. At the close of the general debate on the subject of economic and social articles, he remarked that the Soviet Union had put in detailed suggestions, as did Yugoslavia, adding that the United States put in a paper which it considered was just tantamount to doing nothing in the realm of economic and social rights. Then he maintained that our paper was not really as honest as that put forth by Great Britain since it apparently did do something.

From that point of view, a general article such as ours looks like an effort to evade doing anything. Yet, from our point of view it is really going a long way. To agree that economic, social and cultural rights must be promoted with due consideration of the work of the specialized agencies and to the economic conditions of various countries, our paper means a good deal as far as we are concerned because we would take it seriously. We would actually try to implement the economic, social and cultural rights.

I cannot help thinking very often at these meetings how much my husband would have enjoyed the contact with the various delegates and the effort to discover what each one is really thinking about.

I find myself wondering, for instance, exactly what lies back of the British policy toward a covenant. Great Britain was the original nation that insisted that we have a covenant. At the present time they want to make that covenant, as far as one can see, difficult to achieve.

Britain's attitude now is that economic and social and cultural rights should not be included in the covenant. Nevertheless, the General Assembly insisted that these rights be included.

This was pointed out yesterday by the chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Dr. Charles Malik, who said that in response to this request the Economic and Social Council had requested us to consider how best to draft these articles.

As a result, we of the United States drafted a general article, which we felt could be accepted by a good many nations. And since Wednesday morning the British delegate accepted the chairman's decision. Perhaps we will be able to induce them to support our position.

Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union have put forth very detailed papers, enumerating all social, economic and cultural rights which they think important. It seems to me, however, that it is impossible really to have a sufficiently detailed list. You are almost certain to forget some rights that ought to be included.

There was an amusing little item reported from London in the newspaper yesterday. It seems that the members of the House of Commons were a little astonished to find themselves using tablecloths marked "Milwaukee University Club".

They demanded to know the reason why and found the cloths originally were made for export but later rejected because of flaws. Then they were sold in the U.S. and the owner's name was stamped on them. However, in 1947 in England, when it became difficult to get any goods, even for the use of the House of Commons, these rejected tablecloths were bought and are now being used for the members of that august body in their dining room.

I was talking to a young American girl the other night who has spent from last February to the present time in Yugoslavia. She tells me she has driven her own car everywhere, that she has seen many parts of Yugoslavia, and no difficulties were placed in her way. She found the churches filled and has made many friends and will return to work this summer on the railroad which the young people are building.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Geneva (Switzerland) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 21, 1951

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.