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constructive programs which can be initiated without delay in the United Nations for the promotion of the human-rights principles of the charter. Indeed, it will be greatly to the advantage of the Commission itself if it can at this session begin work on some of these affirmative tasks even before the covenants are considered by the General Assembly. In this way the Commission could mark out the basic lines of its future action programs and establish firmly its position in this field.
With all these potential programs for immediate action at this session of the Commission, I think that you can appreciate my view that. we should reserve adequate time for the consideration of these later items.
It is my earnest hope that the work of this session will be successful, especially in the launching of new programs that will contribute effectively to the safeguarding of human liberty.
17. STATEMENT BY THE UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE BEFORE THE NINTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, GENEVA, MAY 19, 1953 2
At the second meeting of this session of the Commission I indicated that at a later stage of this session I would put forward proposals which my Government feels are best suited to furthering the Commission's task of promoting human rights. I want to tell you today, at the outset, that these proposals are the product of earnest and careful consideration, and they have been framed in the sincere belief that their adoption will make more significant and meaningful the work of the United Nations in the field of human rights. They stand upon the charter and upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; upon that foundation we hope to build a program which will continuously advance the cause of human rights slowly perhaps but nevertheless effectively. My country has since its inception been dedicated to the advancement of human rights, and we continue, in accordance with our tradition, to support their advancement throughout the world. We recognize the fundamental and intrinsic importance of human rights; we have learned through bitter experience that systematic and deliberate denials of human rights have a direct relationship to the preservation of world peace. Peace and security cannot be assured in a world in which peoples who are denied their individual rights are pressed to resort to measures of violence against their oppressors. And the governments which violate the fundamental human rights of those whom they control cannot be expected to respect the rights of other members of the international community.
I recall, as I am sure all of my colleagues here do, the hope for a better, peaceful world which inspired the efforts of those who, at San Francisco, drafted the Charter of the U.N. Organization. My
1 Mrs. Oswald B. Lord.
2 Department of State Bulletin, June 15, 1953, pp. 842-847.
Government realized then, as it realizes now, the necessity of a world organization which would deal with fundamental, long-range problems in addition to those problems immediately related to the settling of disputes as they arise among nations. It was the intention of my Government then, as it continues to be, that the peoples of the world, wearied by war and fear of war, must be assisted by the world organization in their long struggle to achieve a better life wherein the individual person and the rights which he possessed would secure full recognition everywhere. It was for these reasons that express provision was made in the charter, in articles 55 and 56, for a statement of the obligation of all members with respect to human rights, and in article 68, for the establishment of a commission for the promotion of human rights. And it should be the constant purpose of the members of this Commission, I believe, to seek those ways which will be most effective in bringing about the attainment of the charter goal of increased respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
In the Charter of the United Nations there are no words more inspiring than those of the Preamble which express the determination of the peoples of the United Nations "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." These words reflect the age-old desire of men to be free, to think and worship as they please, and to speak and write as they choose. These words reflect man's desire to escape from the tyranny of other men, to live without fear of the secret police, without fear of the unjust trialwithout fear of the arbitrary death sentence or the concentration camp. These words are but the latest rendering of the historic yearnings that have made men work, and fight, and die that they and their fellow men might know freedom and justice.
Much has been done since the San Francisco conference 8 years ago to translate these words of the Preamble and the later provisions of the charter into action. The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Commission on Human Rights have all sought to define general principles, to establish criteria of conduct, and to expose wholesale violations of the rights of man. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the greatest single achievement of the United Nations in the promotion of human freedom. President Eisenhower said in the message to the Commission which I read at the beginning of this session:
For the people of the United States, as well as for people everywhere, the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a significant beacon in the steady march toward achieving human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
It is the earnest hope of the U.S. Government that the Commission on Human Rights will continue to move steadily forward toward finding ways to give practical expression to the goals and standards. set forth in the Universal Declaration. For the past several years, the Commission has been preoccupied in the drafting of covenants. on Human Rights. This arduous effort to translate the moral pre
cepts of the Universal Declaration into the legal prescripts of the covenants is nearing completion, thanks to the devotion and perseverance of the members of this Commission. Henceforth the Commission will be freer than in the past to devise other methods for insuring the enjoyment of human rights and human freedoms.
I do not for one moment wish to question the Commission's preoccupation with the responsibility of drafting the covenants or to belittle in any way the work that has been accomplished in this field. I merely wish to point out that, of all the functional and regional commissions established by the Economic and Social Council, this Commission is the only one that has been limited almost entirely to the drafting of international instruments. The time has come, I believe, for this Commission, now that the completion of the covenants is in sight, to turn its attention, like the Social Commission and other Commissions, to the practical problems of helping all governments and peoples to move ahead in the advancement of their wellbeing.
The task of devising new methods in the field of human rights is not an easy one. There are many possible methods, some of which might be practicable and some of which might prove to be fruitless. It is with a view to helping the Commission to develop some new action programs that the U.S. delegation is introducing today these three draft resolutions concerning the future work of the Commission.
Before explaining each of the three draft resolutions, I should like to make a few general observations about the nature of the new action program proposed by the U.S. delegation.
First, I must admit that these three proposals are not entirely new in concept. The Commission has had similar items on its agenda, but it has never had time to consider them thoroughly. The former Secretary-General,' in his Twenty-Year Program,2 proposed many similar ideas; but, again, the Commission lacked the time to explore them. Both governments and nongovernmental organizations have from time to time suggested plans for action in the field of human rights. The major purpose of the U.S. proposal is to assemble the most practical of all these many ideas and plans, together with several new procedural devices, into a single unified program-a program that offers the best hope of early results.
Second, these draft resolutions are merely an outline of an action. program-skeletons on which flesh and blood are still to be added. There are still many technical problems yet to be clarified. It is our hope that the Commission at this session will bring these skeleton outlines to life.
Third, this action program-an action program in three parts-is, quite frankly, experimental in character. This program would take the Commission into new fields of activity and would present it with new problems, and perhaps even with new difficulties. For this reason our delegation has tried to limit this experiment to a few simple and relatively modest proposals that show real promise of success.
1 Trygve Lie.
2 See supra, pp. 162-167.
Fourth, these three proposals do not by any means exhaust the possibilities for action by the Commission. There may well be many other programs which could be used to supplement the initial proposals submitted by our delegations.
Fifth, the initiation of this action program would help return the Commission to the broad and constructive work for which it was originally intended. Because the Commission has been preoccupied with the drafting of the covenants, many of the activities with which it could otherwise have been concerned-such as freedom of information, forced labor, slavery, and prisoners of war-have had to be performed by other, ad hoc bodies.
The three proposals which are before the Commission are thus a distillation of ideas and proposals from many different sources. They are an outline of a new approach to human rights. They are an experiment in new ways to secure and safeguard liberty, and a mere beginning in a new and broad field of activity. In preparing these three draft resolutions, the U.S. delegation has consulted privately with other delegations, with the Secretariat, with several of the specialized agencies, and with the nongovernmental organizations. These preliminary conversations have been most helpful in clarifying and amplifying the general proposals which I outlined briefly in my opening statement at this session. The draft resolutions before you incorporate many of the comments and suggestions we have received, but they do not include many of the minor details that may be required as the program develops. I invite whatever further suggestions you may have.
The first of the draft resolutions (doc. E/CN.4/L.266) proposes a new program for annual reports on developments in the field of human rights. It is the view of our delegation that, if the Commission is to undertake any important activities in addition to the drafting of the covenants, it must have adequate information on which to base its consideration of the problems of human rights. Much of that information is now available in one form or another, especially in the Yearbook on Human Rights. What is now required is an annual review of the major developments, the principal achievements, and the general progress which is being made toward attaining the goals set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What is needed is an examination by each member government of its own shortcomings and, more important, its progress toward remedying them. Periodic self-examination is good for an individual; it is equally good for a government. The annual reports which we are proposing would be an experiment in national self-examination.
Some representatives have pointed out to our delegation that this request for yet another report might place an excessive burden upon governments that are already overburdened with preparing reports to the United Nations and the specialized agencies. But what we envisage is not another long detailed report containing masses of statistics that would tax the resources of our governments and the patience of our civil servants. No, what we envisage is a relatively brief summary of developments and accomplishments, highlighting those events of the year that warrant the attention of the Commission. The Com
mission would be interested, I believe, in information concerning the enactment of a new bill of rights, the repeal of a repressive law, the elimination of some form of discrimination, or the development of new measures or agencies for protecting the civil rights of the citizen. A short but precise summary of developments of this kind would be preferable to two or three hundred pages of statistics and footnotes. Such a report could summarize or refer to more detailed reports on special subjects that had been transmitted to other organs of the United Nations or to the specialized agencies. The report would give primary attention to the specific aspect of human rights selected for study in accordance with the second proposal I shall place before you.
Our draft resolution proposes that each member government establish a national advisory committee, composed of experienced and competent persons, to assist the Government in the preparation of the annual report. The purpose of this provision is to enable a government to supplement the data and to check the judgment of its own officials with the independent data and judgment of responsible private citizens. These citizens might be representatives of, or be in close touch with, national nongovernmental organizations.
So far as the United States is concerned, we would envisage a small advisory committee, perhaps of 8 or 10 outstanding citizens, who would be appointed by the Secretary of State. This advisory committee would assist the Department of State and other Departments and Agencies of our Government in the preparation and review of the report. The Secretary of State would be responsible for the final text of the annual report, but he would have had the benefit of the advice of a number of experienced and responsible American citizens.
The use by our Government of advisory committees of this nature has been highly successful in many different fields of activity. In our preliminary conversations, our delegation has received one or two suggestions that this technique may perhaps not be suitable to other governments and might not be productive of good results. This is one of the many points on which I solicit the comments of other Commission members.
The objective of this first proposal is not to create a system of reporting merely for the sake of reporting or for the sake of filing the reports away in some inaccessible file cabinet. The objective is to enable the Commission each year to review the state of observance of human rights in the world. Each year the Economic and Social Council reviews the economic state of the world; each year the Social Commission reviews the social state of the world. Our proposal would enable this Commission to make an annual review of human rights with special emphasis on some specific aspects of human rights, as we propose in our second draft resolution.
The second draft resolution before the Commission today (doc. EjCN.4/L.268) proposes that the Commission initiate a series of studies of specific aspects of human rights on a worldwide basis. We consider that it would not be sufficient for the Commission merely to undertake each year a general debate on the whole field of human rights, valuable and novel though this would be. We consider that each year the Com