340.1 AG/5–3053

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


My Dear Mr. Secretary: This is a brief, personal report on some of the highlights of the Ninth Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, held at Geneva from April 7 to May 30, 1953.1 I hope to offer the Department further information about the Session when I come to Washington on consultation.

United States Proposals

Our new action program did not get very strong support from our Western allies—Australia, Belgium, France, Sweden, and the United [Page 1578] Kingdom.2 As a matter of fact, I had made an informal agreement with the representatives of these countries that they would not attack our program. I was disappointed that they not only referred to the importance of the Covenants and our not signing them but also went fairly far in pointing out the difficulties of such a program. The French Representative, however, was very constructive and helpful and carried out his promise to be of help by submitting amendments.3 My impression is that the French Representative would like very much individually to go along with us but that he had had instructions from his government to resist some of our suggestions. The help we received from France and China in the debate was most helpful in developing a procedure.

The Representative of Egypt was also very helpful and has shown great friendliness during the whole conference. The Chairman of the Commission (Egypt) has consistently not only pushed to have the United States program presented but also had hoped to have it come to vote. It was due mainly to his insisting on its being included on the Agenda that we are about to make progress. Although my personal relationships have been excellent with the Indian and Lebanese Representatives and they had privately expressed enthusiasm about our program, they did not comment one way or another.

The Uruguayan Representative made no comment and abstained on the final resolution, proposed by Sweden, which asked Member States and Specialized Agencies to submit comments on our proposals by October 1, 1953—in time for discussion in the General Assembly. Only the Soviet bloc opposed this motion and only Uruguay abstained. I have not been able to establish as good relationships with the Uruguayan representative as I would have wished. The Chilean challenged the United States proposals on a legal basis of the whole procedure and his remarks were critical to a degree that it raised doubts in the minds of other delegations. Those making comments on their disappointment at our not signing the Covenants were the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Yugoslavia. The Soviet attacks on our proposals were rather violent and sarcastic. This was the only showing of unfriendliness [Page 1579] on the part of the Soviet bloc during the whole meeting. The Yugoslavians were most helpful and had given us several suggestions before the debate and introduced some very helpful amendments.

I consider that we made a good deal of progress and gained ground by having the proposals forwarded to Member States and Specialized Agencies, even though I regret that we did not have time to get a final vote on the proposals at this session. A great deal of diplomatic preparation will be needed from here on to explain our proposals to other governments before the meetings of the Council and the General Assembly. We need especially to anticipate the kind of questions that we were asked by the Soviet, Chilean, and Belgian representatives about the legality of our proposals.

Comments on Other Representatives

Mr. Morosov of the Soviet Union as well as Mr. Druto of Poland have shown unusual friendliness both in and out of meetings. Mr. Morosov came to me yesterday, telling me he was going to vote for me for membership in the Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities and expressed the hope I would vote for his candidate. I told him I would vote for his candidate.

We have made especially good friends outside the meetings with the representatives of Pakistan, Lebanon, India, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Belgium. We have found the representative of the Philippines rather cold and unapproachable. He seems to suspect our motives in whatever we do and seems to feel that we wish to avoid anything that has to do with discrimination.

We have not been able to make any progress on a personal basis with the two Latin American representatives; but some of this might be due to the fact that the Uruguayan representative is so very much concerned about our tariff on wool and seems to take it as a personal discrimination against his country.

Mr. Humphrey of the Secretariat has been very helpful especially behind the scenes in advising us on strategy. As previously stated, the Chairman (Egypt) has been very friendly both during the work and on the outside.

I have a personal conviction that some of the misunderstandings of our motives in proposing a new program and in trying to outline an orderly system of work for the Subcommission have been misrepresented to some of the delegates by Mr. Santa Cruz of Chile, who is here on a United Nations Mission and who openly stated to me in a rather violent way his feelings about the United States not signing the Covenants. In my mind, he is definitely a mischief-maker.4

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In spite of the fact that we began in a rather hostile atmosphere after our first statement, which came as a shock to all the representatives except the few I was able to talk to in New York, we feel we have overcome this hostility and that we have many countries that will fight for our program. For as the Chairman has said, and I think he reflects the opinion of others, “This program of the United States will save the Human Rights Commission”.

[Here follow personal commendations concerning Members of the United States Delegation.]

  1. The cable traffic of the U.S. Delegation at this Ninth Session of the Human Rights Commission is in Department of State file 340.1 AG; this file also includes some “official-informal” letters from certain delegation members in the Department, none printed.

    The meetings of the Commission are included in the UN documents series E/CN.4/SR.339–410 Apr. 7–May 30, 1953). The report of the 9th Session of the Human Rights Commission is printed as Doc. E/2447, which is Supplement No. 8 of the Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, Sixteenth Session.

  2. The British position had been foreshadowed in Mrs. Lord’s despatch 232 of Apr. 28, supra. The British representative, Mr. Hoare, had indicated that although the United Kingdom did not expect to sign the draft Covenants, the British Government “would rather let the drafting go on indefinitely”, thus “forestalling any necessity to state whether they would sign or not and also forestalling any inquiry into any specific problem of human rights such as that envisaged in our so-called action program… Mr. Hoare’s reaction to the so-called action program was violently adverse and he took the position that nothing could result from any reporting of existing conditions to the Commission except attacks upon the United States and United Kingdom for propaganda purposes.…”
  3. This French position had been presaged in despatch 2183 from Paris of Apr. 8, 1953, in which Ambassador Dillon had reported the unofficial reaction of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon being appraised of the new U.S. policy on human rights: the new policy was a sound one but some concern was felt about the new action program. (340.1 AG/4–853)
  4. Marginal notation, apparently by Maurice Bernbaum of the Office of South American Affairs: “No doubt!”