SEPTEMBER 22, 1961
HYDE PARK—In the United Nations it is fortunate to have elected a President of the General Assembly without any opposition. So, Mongi Slim of Tunisia takes over under very difficult circumstances but at least without any fight over his election.
The question of whether there should be an appointment of an acting Secretary–General pending the election of the next Secretary–General is a difficult point of procedure. Many legal students think that under the Charter it would be entirely legal for the General Assembly to appoint an acting Secretary–General. Others hold that since the Security Council must propose the Secretary–General to the General Assembly for election, the same procedure should govern the choice of an acting Secretary–General, even though it is a temporary position.
If this legal view holds, then it is quite possible for one of the great nations to veto whatever suggestions are made for an acting Secretary–General. In that case the question will arise whether it is a subject that then can be taken up in the General Assembly.
These fine legal points are going to be argued, I am quite sure, by the Soviet Union during the next few days and nothing would please them more than to immobilize the Secretariat for the time being. They know this would create a critical situation in the Congo and make the world situation extremely difficult everywhere.
We will know more about the Soviet attitude when Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko have finished their talks. Neither is probably going to enjoy the next few days, and all we can do is to hope that reason and a love of humanity will bring them to a few points of agreement at least.
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One can be grateful that a cease-fire has been brought about in the Congo, but the real problem still exists. No settlement was made as to the secession of Katanga.
Katanga Province is very important to the rest of the Congo because much of the mineral riches lie there. Quite naturally, the central government probably believes that financial interests of other countries uphold the secession in the hope that they can retain their interests and fare better than they would if this province were under the control of the central government.
Let us hope that the people of the Congo will all join together to their mutual interest.
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I have a message from the Governor of Georgia informing me that in that state clemency for a murder by a minor is not in the hands of the governor, but in the hands of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. I would surmise, however, that this board might be receptive to any suggestions from the governor, since I understand that it is wholly appointed by him.
The case of the young Negro boy who is condemned to execution for having killed a farmer in a quarrel over some fish which the boy caught in the farmer's lake is no longer just of interest in this country. The other day I received a wire from a group in Holland, which said that its membership had written to the governor and wanted to know if there was anything else they could do because it seemed to them so painful that a child should be executed.
Of course, none of us knows whether, given an opportunity with proper direction and care, this child might prove a good citizen. Maybe it will turn out that he has to be sent to an institution where he can do no harm to society for the rest of his life. But for an enlightened state like Georgia to permit the execution of a minor is really hard to understand.
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Not long ago I signed, together with a number of other people, an advertisement that set forth as clearly as it was possible the need for population control in the areas of the world where economic aid is urgent. There are many areas of the world where the average income may be only $60 or $70 a year. And all the economic aid we give is not sufficient if the population increases so rapidly that the country, by using its greatest effort, can barely keep pace with the present unsatisfactory standard of living and can never get to the point of raising it to a decent standard.
This condition affects some of the countries of Asia, Africa and South America, and these are the areas of the world where economic aid is being given. And in spite of all that is given the results remain unsatisfactory.
I wish the advertisement could be read by people all over this country, because it seems to me that governments as well as individual groups have to act in situations of this kind.