FEBRUARY 12, 1947
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Yesterday afternoon the Commission on Human Rights ended its first session. The good feeling that prevailed throughout the meetings is indicative of the fact that there is a genuine interest in human rights and, as I said to the correspondents who gathered together at the end of the session, I felt encouraged.
A subcommission on minorities and discrimination was set up. And once an international bill of rights has been accepted by the Assembly, I think the commission will play an important role in helping nations to solve their minority problems and to find solutions to the causes that lead to discrimination.
A people, to be free from discrimination in their hearts, must be mature and secure. Discrimination against others because of race, sex or religion arises, of course, from fear. But we can never wipe out the basic rights of human beings, and unthinking discrimination is dangerous.
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On the setting up of the subcommission on freedom of information and of the press, I was asked a question which showed how much the democracies today have to prove their value by deeds rather than by words. My contention was that freedom of information would help us to insure the rights of human beings and would aid us in breaking down discriminations. Very pointedly, one of the delegates asked whether, in a country where there was a so-called free press, there was less racial discrimination than in others where the press was more controlled. I could only say "touché," because it was a fair criticism.
Nevertheless, I think that a free press is essential even though, by itself, it cannot wipe out the evils of discrimination. The more information there is available, the more people will begin to think out their own attitudes. And that will most certainly lead to more support for those who are trying to obtain real justice and fair treatment for people throughout the world.
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Although the first session of the commission is over, I must say that the weight of work which has been placed upon its officers for the interval between this and the next session is a pretty heavy burden. The writing of a preliminary draft of the bill of rights may not seem so terrifying to my colleagues in the drafting group—Dr. P. C. Chang, Dr. Charles Malik and John Humphrey, all of whom are learned gentlemen. But to me it seems a task for which I am ill-equipped.
However, I may be able to help them put into words the high thoughts which they can gather from past history and from the actuality of the contemporary situation, so that the average human being can understand and strive for the objectives set forth. I used to tell my husband that, if he could make me understand something, it would be clear to all the other people in the country—and perhaps that will be my real value on this drafting commission!