APRIL 1, 1950
NEW YORK, Friday—Sometimes I get worried as to whether the Commission on Human Rights is ever going to get to the point where we really can vote on anything, and get through with it! So far we have made a great many speeches but we have very little to show in actual accomplishment. I hope our minds are gradually getting prepared so we will be able to come to wise decisions.
Yesterday we considered Article 5 of the Covenant, which deals with the right of life.
The major difference in this Article lies between the position of those governments that feel it necessary to state specifically that there are a certain number of exceptions to this right and those who prefer one general limitations article. There has been an effort made to formulate it in a way that would cover as many exceptions as possible. It must be said, of course, that those countries which permit capital punishment can continue to take life in that way. One of the reservations is that which states that no one shall be responsible who takes life, for instance, in the quelling of a riot.
The major objection to stating exceptions is that in doing so you cease to emphasize the right. You may never think of all the exceptions that should be listed if they are to be all-inclusive.
This, of course, emphasizes the general point which has been argued before by certain nations. That is, whether it is wiser to have one article which, in a general way, says that all the Articles are subject to certain general exceptions, such as the requirements of national security, law and order and public morals. Or, whether every article shall attempt to give in detail either semi-inclusive exceptions or a full list of as many exceptions as the commission can formulate.
This question has occupied many hours of argument in other discussions on the Covenant. I see no way to settle them finally except by a vote and acceptance of the majority decision.
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At the close of the Human Rights session yesterday afternoon I went to a meeting of the Women's Committee of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Banking.
The auditorium was filled and I spoke on the Declaration and Covenant of Human Rights. Later I drove uptown as fast as I could to attend a meeting of the United Nations Association, which lasted until after 11 o'clock. The day seemed fairly long, as I had gone to my first appointment at a quarter before nine in the morning.
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I was indeed sorry to read in the papers yesterday of the death of Leon Blum, ex-Premier of France. He was the president of the French Socialist party, had been three times Premier, had lived through two World Wars, spending months in prison during World War II. He tried hard during the 'thirties to give France a real "new deal". Unfortunately, he was never able to make it so completely decisive as it was in our own country, and there still remain many reforms which have not been carried out. This probably is responsible for some of the industrial difficulties that face France today.
Though it may be hard sometimes to accept certain changes in our labor management relations, it is still essential to realize that the reforms we make probably are our greatest bulwark against communism.