DECEMBER 13, 1951
PARIS, Wednesday—We are progressing slowly in Committee Three!
We are still going through a general debate on human rights problems. The point that we in the United States delegation hope will be decided first is whether there shall be one covenant containing all human rights or whether there shall be two covenants presented simultaneously, one containing civil and political rights and one economic and social rights.
But in the course of the debate many other questions have been covered. People have touched on the Federal-State clause, on the right to own property, and mention was made of the rights of the family, which had only been touched on in the present draft of the covenant by mentioning maternity and child welfare. Some delegates think these rights of the family are deserving of a separate covenant.
Finally, a number of delegations have presented an article that they desire included in the covenant which is to read: "All peoples have the right to self-determination."
It seems to some of us rather narrowing to put such an article in the covenant, since the principle of self-determination is recognized in the Charter of the United Nations. It is a living principle today, applicable to all member nations. Such an article in the Human Rights Covenant, we fear, might be restrictive rather than broadening. So we are suggesting an amendment that we hope the sponsors of this suggested article may accept.
Twenty-six speakers put their names down to speak in the general debate Monday and Tuesday and yet we had to adjourn nearly an hour early both days because there were no speakers ready. This seems to me a sad waste of time when time is the most precious thing that any of us have.
To be sure, the Soviet delegate tells us frequently that he sees no reason for hurry, that we should continue calmly about our business.
This attitude of acquiescence in wasting our time seems to me odd on the part of the delegate from the Soviet Union who supposedly is anxious to have us save money in every possible way in the United Nations. Every committee that finishes its work saves money, so even if we finished five days ahead of the target date we would have done something laudable.
It is impossible to get people to be on time at the meetings. It is rare that we can be called to order within a quarter of an hour after the time we are expected to be in our seats. Even though you begin a session with the best of intentions, you gradually fall into the universally bad habit of being late because if you are on time you sit in lonely splendor and wait for the rest of the members.
I should not complain because I was delighted to get home early on Monday afternoon. I found my granddaughter and my great-grandson having tea quite cozily with Miss Thompson, and we had a delightful half hour together.
We were all invited Monday evening to go with some friends to a French restaurant where they provide every kind of cheese dish possible, and then on to the concert in commemoration of Human Rights Day.