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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK.—I returned to the United Nations Tuesday last after an absence of some eight years and found the General Assembly very much more imposing than it had been the last time I sat in it, at least as far as numbers are concerned. It was very pleasant to see again some familiar faces and to be greeted warmly by those who have stayed on during the intervening period.

The opening session of the General Assembly was addressed by President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and, as the subject of his address was the situation in the Congo, I think it might be well here to give you four principles which he laid down and the eight steps which he said would have to be taken.

Firstly: The United Nations Command in the Congo must immediately fulfill its duty to maintain law and order and to preserve the integrity of the republic. The maintenance of law and order includes the enforcement of the Constitution and the laws of the Congo as at present existing. The United Nations Command can no longer be neutral between order and disorder.

Secondly: The United Nations Civil and Military Command in the Congo must be reorganized so that the initiative in producing a solution comes primarily from the African states, with military support from the uncommitted countries of Asia and elsewhere.

Thirdly: All initiative and aid from powers outside Africa, particularly from those countries which are allied in pacts against one another, must cease. The flow of arms and equipment into the Congo provides conditions which could lead to a civil war of the Spanish type or worse, with grave consequences for the whole world.

Fourthly: As soon as the military situation has been established, the Congolese Parliament should meet under United Nations protection so that a legitimate Congolese Government can function normally in accordance with the Constitution. In order that the will of the people may prevail, a new general election should be held as soon as possible under United Nations supervision and under conditions free from intimidation and violence.


First: A new and strengthened United Nations Command should be established in Leopoldville at once.

Second: The Command should be primarily African and should take over complete responsibility for law and order and for reasserting the territorial integrity of the state.

Third: All airfields and seaports should be brought under United Nations control in order that the flow of arms and other equipment from outside can be stopped.

Fourth: All foreign diplomatic missions should be recalled from the Congo for the time being in order to give the new United Nations Command a fair chance to eliminate the cold war from the Congo.

Fifth: All Congolese armed units should be disarmed in order to neutralize them from politics. The disarming will involve the return to barracks of all Congolese soldiers and surrender of their weapons to the United Nations Command.

Sixth: The disarming and handover should be voluntary, leading to reorganization and retraining of the Congolese national army under the direction of the United Nations Command. If certain factions will not cooperate in handing in their arms, force will be necessary.

Seventh: All non-African personnel serving in the Congolese Army should be expelled from the Congo immediately.

Eighth: The civil side of the United Nations Command must assist the government of the Congo to formulate a Banking and Foreign Exchange Policy which makes the Congolese Government free from outside pressure of all kinds.

This is a program to ponder carefully and on which negotiations should be carried forward. I think it would be well for everyone in the United States to have it before them as negotiations go on in the next few weeks.

There is also a little misunderstanding in some quarters about the U.S. position on what should and should not come up during the present U.N. session, so I give you here Mr. Adlai Stevenson's statement:

"The United States is going into this resumed session of the General Assembly firmly determined to do all it can to alleviate the cold war instead of aggravating it. We also feel that the world would benefit from shortening the session and avoiding acrimonious debate. We think a period of relative quiet would contribute to a better international climate for serious negotiation on such vital subjects as disarmament.

"Accordingly, the United States delegation would be glad to see the agenda out to the bone, deferring all but the few items that are essential to the conduct of the business of the United Nations, such as elections to the Economic and Social Council, some issues in the Trusteeship Committee, and the financing of the Congo operation. Further discussion of the Congo may also be necessary, but we are prepared to defer all other items.

"If the majority of the members agree, we will support such a move. If they don't we are prepared to discuss all items on the agenda. But we cannot make a trade or a deal to delete some items in exchange for others."


(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 10, 1961

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.