JUNE 5, 1948
NEW YORK, Friday—Well, we are one step nearer to helping the International Refugee Organization solve its problems with regard to displaced persons. The bill which the Senate passed the other day proposes that we take into this country 200,000 persons during the next two years. Though 200,000 is not many, it is something. This may start the ball rolling in other countries, once our House of Representatives has concurred—as it seems probable now that it will. Senator J. Howard McGrath, when he withdrew a more liberal substitute bill which he and Senator Carl A. Hatch had introduced, remarked: "The mountain has labored but brought forth a mouse." Though this seems very descriptive, nevertheless it is a welcome mouse!
The bill provides that the refugees shall be very carefully chosen. While I think it is fair that there should be some distribution on a percentage basis, with consideration for the numbers remaining in the different nationality groups in the displaced persons camps, still I hope we won't be too exacting in our standards. Years in camps on meager rations do not improve people.
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I was glad to read that the House passed the bill providing for a loan to the United Nations for the building of its permanent home on the East River here in New York City. The loan will be without interest and will be repaid in annual installments over a period of thirty years.
I am sure that people who are working in the United Nations will be deeply grateful when this permanent home is finally built. The present conditions under which the permanent secretariat has to work at Lake Success can only be endured because the people doing the work are deeply interested in seeing something creative accomplished. They feel that they are part of an important movement which may save the world from another holocaust and, in spite of discouragements and discomforts, that is an end worth struggling to achieve.
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Yesterday, we had a long meeting of the Human Rights Commission and, by the end of the morning, we had passed one article which had been confided to the drafting committee the evening before. The draft met with such little success, however, that the article was not passed till lunch time.
The entire afternoon was spent on another article, which brought us up against the same question we faced in the drafting committee—the difficulty of expressing a French legal phrase in a way which could be understood by the lawyers of Great Britain and the United States.
It is becoming more and more evident to all of us that this is an extremely difficult undertaking—this writing of a Declaration on Human Rights. I am wondering whether we are going to find the Convention any easier or whether our difficulties will increase.
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It is a relief that, under the U.N. order, Great Britain will stop supplying arms to the Arab League. One hopes that this may mean the beginning of a quieter period during which some cool heads may find a solution to the tragic Palestine question. I always have had great faith in the Scandinavian races and I hope now that something constructive may come from the present direct mediation under Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden.