JANUARY 24, 1947
NEW YORK, Thursday—I had a visit yesterday afternoon from labor leaders David Dubinsky and Matthew Woll, who came to see me about the human rights bill which they have presented to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. I explained to them the preliminaries that I thought the commission would have to go through, and the work which would have to be done by the secretariat, but I think it very valuable that such groups as the American Federation of Labor are taking an active interest in the achievement of human rights throughout the world.
It is natural, of course, that labor unions should be interested in human rights. And one of the things that I hope will evolve from any bill of this kind is the right of people to economic as well as political freedom. For instance, any discrimination as to race or religion in obtaining work at any level is a violation of economic human rights, from my point of view.
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I was also visited by some other influential people who are hopeful that the International Refugee Organization will come into being and who are anxious to see it work as well as possible. However, they stressed to me again a situation of which I have heard a number of times lately. A certain directive from UNRRA, which seemed to have the backing of some of our military-government people, makes it possible to use a good deal of coercion on displaced persons in camps, in order to make them accept repatriation. Apparently there is a feeling that, in some cases, the result is almost forced repatriation. That is certainly not the intent of our government here.
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I was surprised to learn, from these guests, of the fears of many of our local relief agencies on the subject of the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund. They feel that any appeal to individuals will hurt the money-raising of private organizations, and they feel no assurance that the setup of the Children's Emergency Fund will use these agencies in carrying out the job of relief. This worries many of the agencies which have been working in the international field, primarily with children.
They recognize that the mass feeding which may need to be done in the course of the next year or two cannot be done solely by private agencies, but they do not want to be put out of business. This is a problem which the board of the Children's Emergency Fund will have to take up, and I am quite sure that some solution, satisfactory to all concerned, can be found.
The main problem is to keep the children of the world from starving and to provide them with medical care—and everyone wants to see that problem solved.