MAY 22, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Friday afternoon we ended the current session of the Human Rights Commission, after holding more than 200 meetings. I think eight weeks is perhaps too long a period for people, many of whom have important obligations in their home areas, to give up everything to come to the United Nations headquarters. Nevertheless they did, and worked hard and faithfully.
The delegate from Yugoslavia remarked to me the other night that at home, outside of his work for his government, to which he gave seven hours a day, he taught all afternoon in a university. He wondered, while he was gone over this long period, what was happening to his classes. I was impressed also by what he told me of the extent to which all people work in Yugoslavia because of the needs since the war. He and his wife, for instance, have two children. Fortunately, his mother is able to help with their care while his wife goes to work. She leaves with him at seven o'clock every morning and works until two. One can not help admiring the kind of energy which carries through a daily program of that kind.
The last session of our commission was televised at the moment when we adopted the report transmitting our work to the Economic and Social Council. Then each member was asked to say a few words on the work of the commission. In a way it was an historic occasion, for it marked the end of the first efforts to write in legal form a treaty on the subject of human rights to be submitted to the nations for ratification. When so much thought is of necessity turned today primarily on the question of war and economic strife, it is interesting that 18 people have been able to work for eight weeks on something that is purely concerned with benefitting the lot of human beings throughout the world. The first covenant is only a beginning; but I feel it is one step, and I am glad that it has been achieved.
I was sorry not to be present on Thursday when the Organization for Rehabilitation Through Training held its seventieth anniversary and Mayor O'Dwyer cut the first slice of a huge birthday cake at City Hall. Celebrations of a similar kind were held in municipal centers all over the United States, in leading cities of Latin America, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, North and South Africa and, in fact, wherever ORT organizations exist.
In the training installations overseas and in the Americas, where displaced persons and other destitute Jews have been receiving various types of training, this anniversary will also be observed by people who are deeply thankful for the opportunity to become useful citizens. Since the end of the war, 80,000 people in 23 countries have been taught to be skilled in some trade. In North Africa these training centers are perhaps most needed because of great poverty there among some of the Jewish groups, but in many places the training is extended to any displaced people who need it. In the school I saw in Paris, for example, there were people from many countries, all of whom were learning to do skilled work of some kind. I hope this celebration will bring well-deserved recognition to an organization that has worked long and faithfully for the good of others.