IO files, lot 71 D 440, SDA/C.3/155
Position Paper Prepared in the Department of State for the United States Delegation to the Seventh Regular Session of the General Assembly
Draft Covenants on Human Rights
To determine the position of the United States Delegation concerning the draft Covenants on Human Rights,
- The United States Delegation should express support for the resolution adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its fourteenth session instructing “the Commission on Human Rights to complete its work on the two covenants at its next session in 1953 and to submit them simultaneously to the Economic and Social Council”.
- The United States Delegation should oppose the detailed review of the individual articles of the draft Covenants at this session of the General Assembly, relying on the above resolution of the Council and the resolution adopted by the Commission at its eighth session that it should be allowed an opportunity to complete its work on the two covenants prior to their consideration by the Council and the Assembly. The Delegation should not, however, oppose a general discussion of the Covenants in the Assembly if general sentiment favors such a discussion.
- The United States Delegation should oppose any resolution requesting the General Assembly to reconsider its decision to have two separate covenants.
- A separate position paper on the self-determination questions considered by the Commission on Human Rights is being prepared.
- A separate position paper on the United States position with respect to the individual articles of the two Covenants is also being prepared, for use by the United States Delegation in the event the Assembly does not agree to the postponement of the detailed review of the individual articles of the draft Covenants.
The Commission on Human Rights at its eighth session (April 14 to June 13, 1952), devoted practically its entire time to the revision of [Page 1540] the substantive articles and the Preambles of the two draft Covenants. The Commission did not have sufficient time to complete the drafting of the two Covenants and accordingly did not revise the provisions on implementation or the formal articles at the end of the two documents and also did not prepare its recommendations (as requested by the General Assembly) on a reservation article and a federal-state clause for inclusion in the two Covenants.
The Commission, at the end of its eighth session, adopted a resolution pointing out that the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly should not consider the two draft Covenants prior to their completion by the Commission at its next session in 1953.
On the recommendation of the Commission, the Economic and Social Council adopted the following resolution at its fourteenth session (on July 30, 1952) by a vote of 11 to 3 (Czechoslovakia, Poland and USSR) with 4 abstentions (Egypt, Iran, Mexico and Pakistan). The 3 negative votes and the 4 abstentions were cast because of the reference in the resolution adopted to the two covenants to be drafted (these 7 countries preferring the drafting of a single covenant).
The resolution adopted by the Council reads as follows:
“The Economic and Social Council,
“Having considered the resolution of the Commission on Human Rights (eighth session) on the completion of its work concerning the draft international covenants on Human rights,
“Instructs the Commission on Human Rights to complete its work on the two covenants at its next session in 1953 and to submit them simultaneously to the Economic and Social Council.”
The following 11 countries on the Council voted for the above resolution: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Philippines, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay.
The General Assembly at its sixth session (February 5, 1952) adopted a resolution by a vote of 27 to 20 with 3 abstentions calling on the Commission on Human Rights to draft two Covenants on Human Rights. (See Annex for vote on this resolution). At the end of the eighth (1952) session of the Commission on Human Rights, the USSR proposed a resolution calling on the General Assembly to reconsider its decision for two Covenants. This proposal of the USSR was rejected by the Commission 8 to 10.
The USSR submitted a similar proposal in the fourteenth session of the Economic and Social Council, and this proposal was also rejected (July 30, 1952) by a vote of 6 to 10 with 2 abstentions. The 6 countries voting for the USSR resolution were Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Mexico, Poland and USSR. The 10 countries voting against the resolution were Belgium, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Philippines, United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, Uruguay. The 2 abstentions were Iran and Pakistan. Cuba and the Philippines voted [Page 1541] against the USSR resolution although in the General Assembly Cuba voted for one covenant and the Philippines abstained on this issue.
The USSR pointed out in the Commission on Human Rights that it also intended to submit a resolution on this issue in the Economic and Social Council and in the General Assembly.