DECEMBER 6, 1948
PARIS, Sunday—To speed our work, we are now divided into groups, eleven of us working in the subcommittee on the polishing of articles in the draft of the Declaration of Human Rights, while the rest of us try to move on with other items on our regular agenda.
We discussed procedure for a long time on Thursday, hoping we could get a decision on a resolution for the best method of considering three draft conventions on Freedom of Information. It is obvious if we are to close here in a reasonable length of time—say, between December 10 and 15—that these conventions could not be given proper consideration, and so we joined with a number of other delegates in hoping that a conference to consider these conventions could be called at Lake Success next March. The same nations would be invited to attend, and in this way it would be possible to have a comparatively inexpensive conference. Only one delegate versed in this subject and one adviser would be necessary, whereas the cost of reconvening the whole General Assembly in January or February would be a very expensive undertaking. It seemed to me, however, that even if the Assembly had to reconvene, setting up this conference on Freedom of Information would still be the best way of handling these three conventions.
The number of people already on their way home has shown that it is unwise to keep these Assemblies in session for such a long time. People get tired and they have other commitments, and they cannot be held to continuing their work for such a long period as we have been in the present session. As we look at the number of absences that appear in any roll call of our committee, it is enlightening to see the number of nations that have just given up and departed from the scene.
Before closing our meeting, we proceeded to the motion made by New Zealand that we should take up such items on our agenda which have to go to the Fifth Committee, which is the budget committee that goes over every item entailing expenditure of United Nations funds. We met with great opposition from the USSR and others who wished to discuss first the refugee problem on our agenda. There is of course a very real reason for taking up the refugee question. I would hope that under no circumstances would we wish to go home without discussing the Polish item which, the Polish delegate stressed, deals with Polish children deported to Germany.
This horrible practice, which Hitler planned and which is really a dreadful kind of genocide, caused a great many children in Nazi-occupied countries to be sent from their homes into Germany. Frequently they were reduced to a point where they either had forgotten their families and their nationality or were too afraid to say what nationality they might have had. It has now resulted in some very dreadful situations.
A small portion of these children have been found and returned to their families. It is now generally conceded that, although the child's welfare must always be considered, it is better for the children to be returned to their country of origin wherever their nationality is known and their country wishes to look after them. There are exceptional cases of course where the country of origin may no longer be under the same national government or where the parents and relatives have disappeared or where the child is old enough to make his own decision as to what he wishes to do. But, by and large, it is a perfectly natural thing for a country to want to take care of its own children. Of course, when the parents are found, it would be unnatural if the children were not returned to them, even though the children themselves might feel they were being uprooted from the only security they had known over a period of years.