Wednesday, January 10, 2007

RIGHTS OF MEN AND NATIONS

Part 18 of the pamphlet, "OUR FOREIGN POLICY 1952":

RIGHTS OF MEN AND NATIONS


THE United Nations Charter pledged all its signers to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. But it did not define those rights and free-doms. One of the first tasks of the United Nations, therefore, was to develop a common understanding among its members on the meaning of those words. To be realistic, such an agreement had to express the honest beliefs and aims of all the nations that supported it. It had to be a common denominator of the standards of justice and freedom that human beings have a right to demand.

The United States worked hard to bring about such an understanding. American citizens' organizations gave vigorous support to these efforts. The Universal

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Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by the Human Rights Commission, of which Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the chairman. The draft was approved in 1948 by the General Assembly as "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations."

The next step is to get the common understanding in the Declaration accepted in practice, as part of the constitutions and laws of nations. This work has been going forward for 4 years. The United Nations through its Commission on Human Rights is undertaking to draft an international covenant which will embody in treaty form certain basic rights as a minimum standard below which no nation will go.

Each nation which ratifies the covenant binds itself to adopt appropriate legislation, if none then exists, to assure that those rights recognized in the covenant are also recognized under its own national laws. Those ratifying nations whose standards are below those of the covenant would be obliged to raise them at least to that level. Those nations which may already have higher standards in some respects will continue to follow their own standards. Nothing in the draft covenant is grounds for lowering already existing standards. In the United States our Constitution will continue to guarantee our own liberties.

Another project of the United Nations is the out-lawing of genocide, or mass murder of whole groups of

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people, such as Nazi Germany officially practiced. In 1948 the General Assembly unanimously approved a convention pledging its members to treat genocide as a crime and to punish it accordingly. The genocide convention came into efect on January 21, 1951, after the required 20 nations had ratified it. This treaty is now before the Senate for ratification.

Progress in human rights is not confined to the mak-ing of treaties and declarations. The United Nations is working on such concrete things as the free gather-ing of news, the free movement of peoples, and the free exchange of knowledge. The U.N. specialized agen-cies provide many channels for concrete progress in various aspects of human justice and freedom.

There is no need to create a ferment of ideas in the world. It already exists. The need – and this the United Nations can meet – is to translate the ideas of freedom and progress into practical terms of better health, better nutrition, beter homes and schools, as well as better laws to protect the people from oppression.

One of the truths of which we ourselves are con-vinced, and of which we want to convince others, is that American democracy is liberal and progressive – American policy is a force for freedom.

An example of this truth can be seen in the American attitude toward national independence. We affirm the right and capacity of all peoples to work toward self-government or independence, but we recognize that all are not equally ready to shoulder these responsibilities. We are strongly opposed to any aggression that threat-

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ens to destroy the opportunity of a people to become or remain independent.

The United States has cooperated with other nations to enhance the capacity of dependent peoples to gov-ern their own affairs. We have worked by direct nego-tiation and through such international bodies as the Trusteeship Council, the General Assembly Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, and the Caribbean and South Pacific Commissions. Our effort in helping the people of the Philippine Islands to set up and maintain their own government is an example of our sincere interest in the independence of peoples.

Some Americans have been troubled by the fact that the nations whose independence we have helped to establish and maintain have not all had representative governments or practiced democracy as we understand it. The fact that we help a country to be free of for-eign domination does not mean that we admire the particular government it happens to have at any par-ticular time. It means that we do not want any people to be deprived of the chance to govern themselves, as they would be if they became Soviet satellites. It means that we want the kind of international community in which each nation is free to manage its own affairs, sub-ject, of course, to its pledges and responsibilities under the United Nations Charter.

Within the broad area of the Charter, there is plenty of room for people to experiment and to change their forms of government, if they wish – plenty of room for

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progress toward governments truly responsive to popu-lar aspirations. But the Charter also lays upon all the members of the United Nations the responsibility of re-specting the rights of other nations, the responsibility of managing their own affairs in ways that will not create a danger to the world, and the responsibility of cooperating to protect the free world against aggression.

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