DECEMBER 19, 1947
GENEVA, Thursday—Despite the many difficulties, the Human Rights Commission actually managed to finish its work here on schedule. Without any question, I've been almost a slave-driver as the chairman, but one of the members came to me and said he felt that, on the whole, we'd accomplished more because we had set a date to finish our work and had stuck to it.
In the last few days I've received several telegrams, from people in widely different parts of the world, telling me they were greatly heartened by the fact that both a declaration and a convention on rights are to be presented to the governments, and that work has also been done on implementation clauses, which, of course, will eventually be included in the convention after the various governments express their views.
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I must add that the European division of the United Nations Secretariat, which makes all the arrangements for meetings here, has done a really magnificent piece of work, considering the fact that their budget was cut by the last General Assembly and that they are short of translators—which makes it very difficult to furnish translations in many different languages at short notice.
The other afternoon, the government officials of Geneva gave a delightful reception for the commission. A warm feeling has existed between the members and these representatives of the people of Geneva. Certainly I'm deeply appreciative of the kindness and welcome which everyone has shown us.
I've felt this was a very friendly environment. And I'm sure that the commission will always look back upon this session as a very hard-working one but one in which our surroundings were made as pleasant as possible.
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A few evenings ago, despite the fact that I had acquired a cold in the head which made me wonder whether I would be able to speak, I managed to speak at a meeting sponsored by several women's organizations and the World Organization for the United Nations. I was asked to speak in French, which I did with great hesitation, but the people seemed to understand what I was saying.
At the end I felt it would be worthwhile to have questions asked by the audience, and therefore I invited them. Curiously enough, some of the questions were the same ones that come to me at home.
A minister asked whether I thought spiritual influence was great enough in the United Nations, since we do not start our meetings with a prayer. Many people have written to me about that, and I have explained that there are so many religions represented that it would be very difficult for the U.N. Assembly to find a way to express all of them in prayer. Nevertheless, I'm sure there is no one working in the U.N. who isn't conscious of the fact that he requires much more than his own strength and ability if he is going to accomplish any good results.
There was also the usual question as to whether I thought there could be understanding between the United States and Russia. Fear of another war hangs over the people of Europe and produces an even more vivid impression than in the United States, because they have been much closer to the results of war.