With An Eye On Human Rights – San Francisco Conference – June 16, 1945
. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Report From The San Francisco Conference – June 16, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
With the San Francisco Conference just days away from closing, a charter was being drawn up for adoption, a new name was given and the task of rebuilding a shattered Europe had begun.
The United Nations, as it was now called was busily in the process of implementing the provisions in the charter. But there were still sticking points and issues which needed more immediate attention. The United Nations charter was variously described in the manner of the Blind Man and the Elephant, and that what was needed was someone with vision to realize this patchwork quilt of ideas and concerns amounted to a complete picture. What the charter was, was a Declaration and a Constitution. As a declaration it stated the high purposes of peace and human welfare which the United Nations voted to maintain. As a Constitution it created certain international social instruments to enable those high principles and purposes to realize themselves in action in a political world. The charter was, at once idealistic and realistic.
Critics derided the idea of the United Nations Charter as being too realistic, bordering on cynical. The idea that smaller countries had the same vote as larger countries led some to think it was an imbalance of power. However, the Security Council was made up of the 5 major nations as permanent members of the council, and the smaller nations as temporary members.
Another area of concern was Freedom of Information, and that the establishment of national monopolies in communications and information was running against the UN position, and that it was up to the UN to reverse the trend and to actively pursue avenues in the free exchange of information.
The biggest area of concern was in Human Rights and the immediate problem of refugees and displaced persons, which numbered in the millions – and since the War in the Pacific wasn’t over, those numbers were certain to swell even larger. The setting up of a Human Rights Commission along with a draft charter, or Bill of Human Rights was being put together. The Human Rights Commission was to act as a sort of conscience of the United Nations, particularly in the area of immigrants and refugees. Another area of the Human Rights Commission was being set up to look at issues regarding Women throughout the world. And also the subject of Drugs and drug trafficking as well as Slavery.
A lot of issues to tackle, but they were being addressed – it was reported some 690 amendments to the Charter had been proposed during the San Francisco Conference. It was a complex and far-reaching piece of work. Not perfect, by any stretch, but it was considered a start to a lasting peace.
Discussing the Conference were Assistant Secretary of State Archibald MacLeish and Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard College, New York, a member of the U.S. delegation to the San Francisco Conference. Moderating was Selden Menefee of NBC’s University Of The Air. The program was broadcast as part of the series Our Foreign Policy on June 16, 1945.
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