MAY 1, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Yesterday noon, I had the pleasure of meeting at lunch some of my colleagues on the Human Rights Commission of the U. N. Economic and Social Council. As usually happens, there was some confusion about contacting a few of them. And our French colleague, Prof. Rene Cassin, was delayed somewhere on an airplane.
Besides myself, only three members of the commission were present. But there were also Henri Laugier, Assistant Secretary General, who is in charge of all of the Council's commissions on social affairs, Dr. Schmidt, who is secretary to all the six commissions now meeting in New York, and Mrs. Joseph Lash, who is secretary for the Human Rights Commission.
This was our first opportunity to talk together, and we found that Mr. Laugier and the gentleman from Yugoslavia preferred to speak in French. The rest of the group felt more at home in English.
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After lunch, we drove to Hunter College for the first meeting of the commission at 3 o'clock. The predominant number of members speak English, but everything is translated into French—a little item which I, as chairman, kept forgetting until I suddenly looked at the translator and noticed that his expression was somewhat agonized. I realized then that I had completely forgotten to give him a chance to translate my remarks!
Mr. Laugier made us a serious and inspiring speech, but I think all of us fully realize that our responsibility is great. Being chairman rather frightened me, since I am not very good on parliamentary law! Fortunately, we adopted the rules of procedure which were suggested for the commission, so I only have to keep them before me in case any difference of opinion crops up.
The Economic and Social Council appointed this "nuclear" commission to serve for one year and to make recommendations as to the permanent setup for the commission. Nine members were invited to serve. They were chosen as individuals, not representing any governments, who would be competent to work on the questions which would probably come up in the field of human rights.
It will be up to us to recommend whether this method of choice will be continued or whether the members later will be chosen to represent governments. In view of the fact that the commission will only make recommendations and that the Economic and Social Council, to which the recommendations go, is made up of representatives of government, it seems to me that the governments will have the final decisions in any case.
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The Subcommission on the Status of Women met after our commission ended its meeting, and three of our members had been appointed to serve on this subcommission. I was among the number but, yesterday, having made two engagements for the late afternoon, I could not stay for the subcommission meeting at 5 o'clock. I will, however, be on hand for all the meetings in the future, I hope.
Last evening, I spoke at the Women's Trade Union League's annual meeting, and today I am attending both a morning and afternoon session of the Human Rights Commission.