340.1 AG/4–253

Memorandum by the Legal Adviser (Phleger) and the Assistant Secretary of State for united Nations Affairs (Hickerson) to the Secretary of State1

  • Subject:
  • Proposal of Judge Halpern2 on United States Policy Concerning Draft Covenants on Human Rights


When Judge Halpern was in the Department Tuesday afternoon, March 31, preparatory to going to Geneva as alternate and principal adviser to Mrs. Lord at the next session of the Commission on Human [Page 1564] Rights, he asked whether Mrs. Lord could include the following statement in her speech to the Commission:“We hope that there will be a time when human rights will be sufficiently respected in fact and when a human rights conscience will be sufficiently developed throughout the world so that a codification of the then prevailing principles will be worthwhile. When and if such a time comes the United States may give consideration to the ratification of a covenant on human rights, and for that reason we are concerned with the drafting of the Covenants now so that they will be in the most acceptable form and will require the least possible change if they are used as a model for future treaties.”

Mr. Phleger assured Judge Halpern that it seemed to him that such a statement would be consistent with the letter to Mrs. Lord from the Secretary3 and consistent with the policy of the Department on this subject, but that the statement should not be made until the Secretary had an opportunity to review this matter and expressed his approval of the statement.

Judge Halpern said that he felt that the United States Delegation would not have a defensible position in the Commission unless it could make this statement. He thought that without this statement, we would be vulnerable to attacks which would be difficult to meet and our moral position would be very difficult if not impossible to maintain.


It is recommended that you approve the inclusion of this statement in Mrs. Lord’s speech to the Commission on Human Rights and that you sign the attached telegram to Geneva for Mrs. Lord.4

  1. Drafted by the Officer in Charge of UN Cultural and Human Rights Affairs (Simsarian).
  2. Philip Halpern, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Supreme Court, New York State, had been appointed as Principal Adviser on the U.S. Delegation to the Commission on Human Rights.
  3. Apr. 3, 1953, infra.
  4. Not attached. In telegram 633, to the consulate at Geneva, Apr. 3, 1953, 6:40 p.m., the revision proposed by Judge Halpern was cabled verbatim for insertion by Mrs. Lord into the U.S. statement planned for Apr. 7. Mrs. Lord was cautioned that it was “important this information not be released prior to your statement April 7.” (340.1 AG/4–353)