My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

PARIS, ThursdayThe Argentine delegation presented a rather interesting proposal for inclusion in the Declaration of Human Rights today.

They are eager to include a provision for old age rights, which was, I understand, largely inspired by the wife of Argentina's president, Madame Peron.

Though Article 22 of the declaration states that everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, old age, etc., the Argentine proposal goes into much more detail. It stresses in particular that if families refuse to care for aged members, then the state should force them to do so by law. In any case, the proposal says, old people have the right to decent housing and "minimum home comforts," pointing out that old age is deserving of respect and consideration.

This sounds good, but I can't help wondering just what "minimum home comforts" means. Perhaps it will be detailed later.

I cannot help wondering, too, as I read this document, whether some consideration is not due young people. I have seen a number of young women whose parents have been selfish enough to prevent them from marrying and who, as a result, have been left without support in middle age when their parents died.

I also have seen many young people who could not marry because their elders made such demands on them.

It seems only fair that young people should be allowed to marry and have children when they are still young. Therefore, I believe the Argentine proposal, as good as it is, should be revised to include the rights of youth as well as age. But regardless of what is done, it is clearly essential that aged people who can no longer earn for themselves be taken care of.

I hope we will refer this back to the economic and social councils and perhaps their committees can make favorable recommendations on the whole problem.

* * *

Articles 25 and 26 finally were voted on and accepted, with the former article reading:

"Everyone has the right to freely participate in cultural life communally, to share in the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."

"Everyone has the right to protection of moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author or producer."

It seemed to most of us that the second paragraph was unnecessary, since any such right would find protection enough through patents, copyrights or specially drawn contracts.

The second article, Article 26, originally read:

"Everyone is entitled to good social and international order wherein rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration can be fully realized."

The Soviets, however, deleted the word "good" and replaced it with "such."

In their elaborate presentation of this amendment, the USSR said capitalist order could not be called "good" social order. To which I pointed out that the article did not specify whether it had been socialist, capitalist or Communist, but only that the rights and freedoms set forth in the declaration should be fully realized therefore, whatever it was had to be good.

Nevertheless, it finally was decided that it might make for better drafting if we accepted their recommendation. It was pleasant to be able to vote for, instead of against, a Soviet amendment.

The Soviets, however, said a lot of unpleasant things in their speech-making which included an accusation that science in the United States was completely dominated by the military and used only for military power. I felt I should answer this one, but I always grieve when I do, for I realize Soviet delegates must say things they are told to say, so most of it isn't worth answering.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL