JANUARY 14, 1946
LONDON, Sunday—At the first business session of the UNO Assembly Paul-Henri Spaak of Belgium said that he felt a great honor had been paid him and that he would discharge his duties to the best of his ability.
He was kind enough to say a special word of welcome to me and to add how much my husband's work for the organization was in his mind at this opening session.
Then it looked for a little while as though we were going to have an endless number of speeches on the question of rules and procedures. I notice that men always feel passionately about these rules, and on our own delegation Congressman Bloom keeps impressing upon us how very important it is to get the rules just as you want them.
Not having had vast experience with parliamentary procedure, this never seemed to me quite as desperate a question as it appears to those who are experienced, but I am beginning to realize that it is a help to have your rules well thought out in advance.
The two official languages used at the meetings are English and French. If anyone speaks in French, it is translated into English, and vice versa. This doubles the time it takes for any speech, and for that reason I feel that everybody should try to condense their remarks. But French is not a language in which it is easy to speak briefly. I think that the beauty of the language carries one away into expressions of high sentiment.
That afternoon we had the first meeting of the committee on which Senator Townsend and I represent the United States, dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural questions. In the main conference room at Church House the senator sat directly behind me, and back of us along the wall sat Mr. Sandifer of the State Department and some other advisers. Arthur Henderson, the British member of the committee, sat on my right. Mr. Lavrentiev, the Russian representative, was on my left.
Our first business was to elect a chairman. The Canadian delegate nominated Peter Fraser of New Zealand. I seconded the nomination. Having been in New Zealand and having known Fraser, I feel that he will be a chairman who will bring a deep interest and long experience to the work of this committee.
New Zealand is a small country, though it is part of the British Empire. They have tried many social experiments and I think that Fraser, as chairman, will bring to new world problems a point of view which can combine the feeling of both the smaller and larger nations.
After Fraser was chosen to be chairman, we adjourned and I dashed back to my hotel for an hour with my secretary.
Just before returning to the afternoon Assembly meeting a group of about ten American soldiers came to call on me to tell me how they felt on certain matters. I was glad to see these young men since, because of my own boys, I always have a sense of kinship with our soldiers.
I am deeply sympathetic with their problems and always wish I could sit down and really have a talk with them. In this case I had to keep them standing and hurry them out, as Miss Frieda Miller, who was driving back to Westminster Hall with me, already was waiting.
That afternoon we selected the Vice Presidents of the Assembly. They were chosen by countries and those named were China, France, South Africa, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela.