JUNE 16, 1947
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It was quite evident to the Drafting Committee of the Bill of Human Rights, last Thursday afternoon, that all the representatives of governments sitting around the table were not completely familiar with what had already transpired in previous meetings. After one very eloquent and lengthy speech, one of the delegates remarked that a similar speech had been made by the representative of the same government in the Human Rights Commission itself before the commission's last report had been transmitted to the Economic and Social Council.
The afternoon was spent in the expression of opinions as to the form in which a bill should be written. I think the consensus was that we would have to prepare, as a first draft, two drafts! One would be in the nature of a clear and brief declaration of principles. The other would be expressed more at length and in detail, but perhaps covering fewer general ideas, and would in form be a convention or law which could be accepted and ratified by the various governments and become a part of their own law.
The delegate from the USSR apparently felt that we should impart to every one of the 55 governments everything which had been before us, and then wait until each of the 55 governments sent in its suggestions and recommendations. This procedure being clearly a decision which would have to be taken either by the full commission or the Economic and Social Council, I think it was felt that we should continue with the work assigned to us—allowing at every point, however, for the inclusion of alternative texts, so that if there was divergence of opinion the Human Rights Commission would have a clear statement before it of all points of view.
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Positively, one never knows what interesting people one may meet in New York City! As you may have already discovered, one of the most surprising and interesting groups is our New York taxi drivers. My latest find was a gentleman who told me that he drove a taxi just to be sure of a basic income. But he and his wife had taken several trips across the continent, since his hobby is painting and he often sold his pictures even though he only painted them for enjoyment.
He seemed one of those rare people who enjoyed his life as he went along. Some people are always complaining of the present, and then looking back upon that present with a feeling that it was rather a delightful past. They hurry toward the future in the hope that it will be more enjoyable than the present, and so life slips away and the joys of the moment are rarely savoured. My taxi man enjoyed his life. It is really a good combination: a philosophy, a hobby and a mechanical ability which assures you of a basic livelihood!