340.1 AG/4–2353

The United States Representative on the Commission on Human Rights ( Lord ) to the Department of State 1

No. 232
  • Subject:
  • Reaction of other Delegations to the new United States Policy on Human Rights.

For the information of the Department, there are reported below the reactions of some of the other delegations in the Commission on Human Rights to the new United States policy in the field of human rights.

[Page 1576]

The first public knowledge of the new United States approach to human rights resulted from the Secretary’s statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, April 6. This statement received brief notices in the Geneva press and in the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune on Tuesday, April 7. The Secretary’s letter to Mrs. Lord was released to the press here on Tuesday. At the opening of the Commission meeting on Wednesday morning, April 8, Mrs. Lord made her initial statement, in which she included the President’s message to the Commission. The warm and affirmative tone of that message and its arrival in time to be used in Mrs. Lord’s statement did much to soften the impact of her announcement that the United States would not become a Party to the Covenants.

The reaction in the Commission was less hostile than our Delegation had anticipated, although the speeches of both the Indian and Philippine representatives were severely critical. The atmosphere would probably have been far more acrimonious had it not been for two different and fortuitous factors: the recent shift in general Soviet policy, resulting in a very mild comment from Mr. Morosov; and the presence of a considerable number of new and inexperienced representatives who were not prepared to make immediate comments on Mrs. Lord’s statement.

Some of the representatives expressed admiration for the frankness of the American course. We suspect, however, that in some cases this was a left-handed compliment or that it was felt to be the diplomatic thing to say. It is quite evident that most of the delegates consider that frankness is not a part of traditional diplomacy. There are some who feel that we would have followed the usual diplomatic course if we had not had some ulterior or sinister purpose.

The suspicions of others were aroused, therefore, by our bluntness and by our making what they thought to be an unnecessary announcement before the completion of the Covenants. These representatives in particular are awaiting the details of our affirmative proposals to demonstrate that our Government will sincerely back international cooperation in the area of human rights.

A series of informal meetings is being held with Australia, Belgium, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom to try to reach a common agreement or, at least, to avoid acrimonious public dissension, which can benefit only the Soviet bloc, on matters that will come up later, such as the Federal State Article, individual petitions, and self-determination. The Delegation is also consulting continually with delegations outside this group in order to explain our new policy and to exchange views on agenda items.

Our Delegation concludes that the initial impact of its negative position on the Covenants has begun to be dissipated, especially now that the Commission is preoccupied in the arduous task of drafting [Page 1577] the articles on implementation. It expects and hopes that its prestige in the Commission will be notably strengthened as soon as it has formally submitted its draft resolutions on the three new action programs. For this reason, the Delegation has hastened the preparation of these draft resolutions as working papers for the purpose of consultation with other non-Soviet delegations, the Secretariat, and the non-governmental organizations. The Delegation appreciates the promptness with which the Department, in restricted telegrams No. 659, No. 688 [668?] and No. 676 responded to its requests for assistance.2

[Here follows at some length an account by the representatives of the following countries: Australia, Belgium, China, Egypt, France, India, Lebanon, Philippines, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and the Soviet Union; and by representatives of non-governmental organizations. Some of this reportage is reflected in Mrs. Lord’s letter to the Secretary of State, May 30, 1953, infra.]

  • Mary P. Lord
  • Mrs. Oswald B. Lord
  1. Drafted by Mrs. Lord and Judge Halpern.
  2. Department of State telegram 659, Apr. 15, 5:43 p.m. (340.1 AG/4–1453), telegram 668, Apr. 17, 6: 21 p.m. (340.1–AG/4–1553) and telegram 676, Apr. 21, 7: 03 p.m. (340.1–AG/4–2053), none printed; all related to the delegation’s work in presenting the new U.S. action program as outlined in Doc. CHR/D/13/53, Mar. 26, 1953, p. 1559.