My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Friday—We did a good day's work in our Commission on Human Rights yesterday, finishing two resolutions which stated the way in which we would like to continue our work in the immediate future, and doing four of the implementation articles. In these we made some rather fundamental decisions.

One group of delegates was anxious that since our machinery for implementation was to be permanently set up it should be elected by the International Court of Justice and not only by the states ratifying the Covenant. It had been suggested that a panel be nominated from which, on occasion as the need arose, people would be drawn to hear a complaint and try to ascertain the facts. That was rejected and it was decided that a committee of seven was to be elected from the panel nominated by the states ratifying the Covenant, and that it should be constantly at work.

The idea in the minds of those who advocated the election of this committee by the International Court of Justice was that it would insure a more impartial group of people being chosen and that those elected would be more widely representative. Therefore, they reasoned, the committee might serve as a better foundation on which to build eventually a Court of Human Rights.

Those who wanted the states as parties to the Covenant to elect from a panel the seven members to serve as the committee on human rights felt that, since under both methods the people to be elected were to be chosen from a panel nominated by the states' parties to the Covenant, their calibre and impartiality was assured under either system.

It seemed doubtful whether under the statute of the International Court of Justice there was any obligation on the court to hold elections on request. If the court did so, it would be purely an accommodation. Therefore, it seemed better procedure to keep this election machinery in the hands of states' parties to the Covenant.

Having made this one decision, many of the articles on implementation can be more easily accepted against this background. Procedures all along the line will now be decided in the light of this main decision.

It was 7:40 when I reached home last evening. Therefore, it was nearly 8:30 before I reached the Waldorf-Astoria, where I was given the Four Freedoms Award, established in memory of my husband by a committee headed by the Honorable Ferdinand Pecora, Justice of the Supreme Court of New York. I was touched by the fact that the addresses on the Four Freedoms were given by such eloquent speakers—the Honorable Aubrey S. Eban, the Honorable J. Howard McGrath, the Honorable Brien McMahon and the Honorable Ferdinand Pecora. The award was presented by Mr. Emil K. Ellis. Miss Regina Resnick sang the national anthem and the Reverend Gordon L. Kidd gave the Invocation.

The award in itself is a beautiful citation, with paintings in the four corners illustrating the different freedoms. When it was finally presented to me there was little for me to say except to express my humble gratitude and assure those present that I knew only too well that we would achieve the realization of the Four Freedoms and of the peace which must be based upon them only through the vision and the courage and the determination of the people of the United States, themselves. They, alone, can be the architects of peace.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL