DECEMBER 18, 1946
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I read in some newspaper the other day that the United Nations had passed hastily a resolution on holding a conference on freedom of information. The man who wrote the column was not very familiar with the history of this resolution, for it was carefully considered.
The Human Rights Commission debated it at some length last spring. And its importance, which the above writer seems to think escaped the average delegate, was fully brought out in long debates in Committee 3 during the recent session of the General Assembly. The question of whether there should be just a conference on the press, or whether radio and the movies should be included, was a point long considered. There was no delegation that was not fully aware of the implication of this resolution.
The Human Rights Commission has a very special interest in it because there is very little that can be done to enforce human rights except through public opinion which, if brought to bear on the questions involved, can have great influence. This can only be done, however, through freedom of information!
I hope the conference on this matter will not be unduly hurried, because I think a good deal of preparation on the part of the secretariat will be necessary before it can be held. But that it is important and means much to the future, nobody will deny.
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Freedom of information, however, has very little to do with the international control and inspection of atomic energy. That has got to be an entirely separate question. I think we can trust our representatives to see to it that what we accept as a final plan really does protect all nations from the military use of one of the most potentially harmful, as well as potentially helpful, discoveries that has ever been made.
The international control of this particular weapon is our greatest insurance for peace. It must be so safeguarded that it can keep in line the use of all other weapons.
Someone pointed out the other day that it was in the interests of the Eastern European group to have mechanical weapons of war rendered more or less useless, because their strength lay largely in manpower. If the type of weapons on which other great nations rely for their power are demobilized, the Soviets might have a great advantage, for a period at least.
The one really essential thing is that power should lie in the hands of the United Nations and not in the hands of individual nations. Then possibly we might begin to think less about how we can build strength to use against each other, and think more about how we can build such things as will bring us more closely together and make us understand the value of intercourse and cooperation.
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I have not yet grown quite accustomed to being a lady of leisure again. Yesterday I had a few members of foreign delegations at both lunch and dinner. And I am still winding up a few things at our delegation headquarters. But by tomorrow I should be completely free—and that will be a strange sensation!