MAY 7, 1949
NEW YORK, Friday—The discussion of Freedom of Information goes on at length in Committee No. 3 and I left our Lake Success meeting yesterday morning before 12 o'clock. It was still undecided whether to accept the suggestion of the delegate from the Netherlands and postpone consideration of the United Kingdom convention until the next session of the General Assembly or try to finish it now.
At any rate, the French and the United States conventions have been amalgamated, though there are still some points which must be ironed out. Many delegates feel the United Kingdom convention is essential to the whole, but I'm of the opinion that we should complete one at a time. We would thus stand a better chance to end our labors next autumn when we meet again.
In listening to the discussion I have realized some of the difficulties that are going to face us in the Human Rights Commission in writing a Convention on Human Rights. I hope some major decisions can be taken at the start, as I think it will help us not to waste so much time on minor points.
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On Wednesday night I attended a meeting of The International League for The Rights of Man. There must have been about 100 people at Freedom House where we met, and Dr. John Humphrey, head of the Secretariat of the Human Rights Division, and some of his assistants were present. Adolf A. Berle presided.
The objective was to draw out some of the thinking in these various international organizations represented on points that would come up for discussion in the writing of the Covenant on Human Rights.
One group was most anxious to have the Covenant include everything that was in the Declaration, saying that to arouse the imagination of peoples of the world one must aim high. Another group felt that a first Covenant would have less chance of ratification if it included too many of the controversial points that are in the Declaration and that the objective should be to get a first Convention adhered to by as many nations as possible. The discussion ranged over a variety of questions and I hope that those present gained some satisfaction out of their meeting.
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I attended the lunch given in honor of the United Nations by the Radio Executives' Club on Thursday. Dr. Herbert Evatt, President of the General Assembly, spoke over the air extremely well on trends in the U.N. The chairman of the luncheon brought out the fact that it was a good omen that they were holding this meeting in honor of the U.N. on the day when, with the help of the U.N., one of our thorniest problems seemed to have come to a final settlement. He was, of course, referring to the lifting of the Berlin blockade.
There is rejoicing everywhere over the Berlin agreement. It is the first sign of the willingness of the Soviet Union to live in the same world with the Western democracies, and one cannot but hope that it presages more cooperation and willingness to compromise for the future.
At the end of the lunch some paragraphs taken from four speeches by Abraham Lincoln were read by Walter Hampden. I wish I could give them all to you here but space does not permit. We often forget how very apt Lincoln's phraseology was and how often he spoke on the very subjects which we are thinking about today. One quotation I would like to give in closing because it is forever true:
"We all declare for liberty; but in using the same words we do not all mean the same thing."