HickersonMurphyKey files, lot 58 D 33, “Memoranda—General—1953”

Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Sandifer) to the Director of the Office of United Nations Economic and Social Affairs (Kotschnig)

  • Subject:
  • United States Policy Regarding Draft International Covenants on Human Rights

Mr. Phleger’s and Mr. Hickerson’s joint memorandum to the Secretary, dated February 18, 1953, on the subject “United States Policy Regarding Draft International Covenants on Human Rights” was considered at a meeting in the Secretary’s office today attended by Mrs. Lord, Mr. Phleger, Mr. Hickerson, and myself.

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After reading the memorandum the Secretary indicated his view that we should proceed with a change in policy along the lines set forth in part II.A of the memorandum. The Secretary also liked the idea of a letter from him to Mrs. Lord. He emphasized the importance of great care in its preparation and also spoke of the need for careful scrutiny of alternative approaches of the character listed in part II.A to avoid any new mechanisms which might give the Soviets an opportunity for prying around in human rights conditions in the United States. It was agreed, upon Mr. Phleger’s suggestion, that Mrs. Lord should prepare a first draft of this letter.

It was also agreed that work should proceed on the preparation of a general policy statement for Mrs. Lord’s use in the Commission as suggested in paragraph 2 of Mr. Phleger’s and Mr. Hickerson’s memorandum.

It was understood as a part of this general decision that the United States would continue in the Human Rights Commission to participate in the technical work of the completion of the Covenants, as stated in the last sentence of part II.A. Mr. Dulles said that in view of our change in policy we would of course not insist on drafting changes as we had in the past where we thought they were necessary to bring them in line with our own constitutional law and practice. Our role would be one of helpfulness but not one of pressing our views upon the Commission.

Durward V. Sandifer