DECEMBER 19, 1952
NEW YORK, Thursday—In the plenary session of the General Assembly the other day a convention was passed having to do with the right of correction.
We, of the United States, had opposed the offering of this convention, by itself, for signature and ratification. It was passed because all the smaller nations feel so strongly about this particular right. They feel that often our reporters and our news services carry statements all over the world that they do not think accurately represent the situation in their countries.
The difficulty is, of course, that in these small countries there are often divisions within the country itself. If you talk to one group you get one story and if you talk to another you get a totally different one.
This could be true also in our country, but we accept this here and would not think of demanding the right to correct a story because our government felt it did not give the whole picture or was incorrect in some detail. We would probably issue a release of our own and be sure it would be carried all over the world. Or we might let the story go as unimportant and assume that the American reader will know what was wrong.
But many smaller countries than we are become very much agitated about anything which they consider does not give a full and complete picture of their situation. And, even beyond that, they are very sensitive at times about reports that perhaps at another time they would not object to at all.
I feel pretty sure that this is a covenant which the great nations, with their vast communications setups, are not going to adhere to, and, therefore, its object will not be achieved.
I am beginning to think that it is a mistake to vote on and pass resolutions that are going to remain simply paper resolutions or covenants. It would seem to be wiser and more statesmanlike to do nothing, unless we can get agreement that can lead to some action.
This holds good, too, I think, about a resolution that was passed on the right of self-determination. Self-determination of peoples is a principle for which the U.S. stands, but we felt it was the right of all peoples and, therefore, the resolution should be so worded that it is a universal right and does not apply only to people in trust and nonself-governing territories.
The drafting in the last paragraphs of this resolution implies that all the democratic processes of the country must be carried on under these auspices. This was a matter of drafting, but somehow you could not explain it to members of the delegations who were still thinking in terms only of nonself-governing and trust territories. As a result, we could not accept the resolution and neither could the majority of the great powers.
Russia championed it because, while she rules with a rod of iron wherever her sphere of influence extends, she keeps up the fiction that government is entirely in the hands of the independent states within her borders and of the satellite countries. It is certainly a phony right.
This resolution will, I am afraid, remain on paper and be of very little practical value so far as action goes. It could have been, with wider agreement, a real step forward in the rights of all people.