Commission on Human Rights Summary Record of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting [Excerpt]
Commission on Human Rights Summary Record of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting [Excerpt]4
8 June 1948 [Lake Success, NY]
Chairman: Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Chairman declared that the United States supported the text presented by India and the United Kingdom (document E/CN.4/99), with the addition of the words: "as well as to form trade unions and to join the trade union of his choice."5
The United States delegation favoured the inclusion of economic and social rights in the Declaration, for no personal liberty could exist without economic security and independence. Men in need were not free men. The United States delegation considered that the Declaration should enunciate rights, not try to define the methods by which Governments were to ensure the realization of those rights. Those methods would necessarily vary from one country to another and such variations should be considered not only inevitable but salutary.
As regards article 23, which concerned the right to work, in the opinion of her delegation that right was meaningless unless it was coupled with the mention of "just and favourable working conditions", which would guarantee the worker and his family a decent standard of living.6 The right to work had to be accompanied by the freedom of choice with respect to work. That was the reason why the United States delegation wished to join the first paragraph of article 23, dealing with the right to work, to article 24, dealing with conditions of work.7 It should also be borne in mind that the right to work, without qualifications might mean very different things, some of which might be incompatible with other articles of the Declaration. In the opinion of the United States delegation, the right to work, in this Declaration, meant the right of the individual to benefit from conditions under which those who were able and willing to work would have the possibility of doing useful work, including independent work, as well as the right to full employment and to further the development of production and of purchasing power.
The realization of those objectives meant more to individuals in the United States than any state guarantee of full employment. That was why the United States considered the text submitted by India and the United Kingdom to be the best if amended by the addition of the right to set up and join trade unions. It was, moreover, in conformity with the text adopted in the Declaration of Bogota.8
TSumex UNOR ECOSOC, MWelC
1. For more on the process of revision, see n1 Document 354.
2. Glendon, 115-17. Glendon notes that René Cassin remembered the debates over economic and social rights in this session of the HRC as among the most heated in the drafting process. For American concerns about the definition of economic and social rights in the declaration, see Document 318. For ER's view of the differences between the American and the Soviet view of the "right to work," see her Sorbonne speech, Document 379.
3. The Geneva draft of Articles 23 and 24, which had not been modified by the drafting committee, read:
1. Everyone has the right to work.
2. The State has a duty to take such measures as may be within its power to ensure that all persons ordinarily resident in its territory have an opportunity for useful work.
3. The State is bound to take all necessary steps to prevent unemployment.
1. Everyone has the right to receive pay commensurate with his ability and skill, to work under just and favourable conditions and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests in securing a decent standard of living for himself and his family.
2. Women shall work with the same advantages as men and receive equal pay for equal work.
The amended articles proposed by India and the UK read:
1. Everyone has the right to work under just and favourable conditions.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including security in the event of unemployment, disability, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control (HRC, Third Session, India and the United Kingdom: Proposed Amendments to the Draft Declaration of Human Rights, 24 May 1948 (E/CN.4/99), 6, AERP).
4. HRC, Third Session, Sixty-fourth Meeting, Summary Record, 8 June 1948 (E/CN.4/SR.64), 5-6, UNOR ECOSOC, MWelC.
5. In the discussion that followed the next day, ER stated the reasons why the United States wished to add a clause on trade unions:
The Chairman explained that the United States delegation considered that the right to form and join trade unions was an essential element of freedom. While other associations had long enjoyed recognition, trade unions had met with much opposition and it was only recently that they had become an accepted form of association. The struggle was, in fact, still continuing, and her delegation thought, therefore, that specific mention should be made of trade unions (HRC, Third Session, Sixty-sixth Meeting, Summary Record (E/CN.4/SR.66), 3-4, UNOR ECOSOC, MWelC).
6. In the discussion that ensued the following day, ER:
expressed her strong support for the principle of equal pay for equal work, which was widely observed in the United States, where many States had equal pay laws on their Statute Books. She felt, however, that there was no need for a specific provision in the Declaration, since the principle was adequately covered by the provision against discrimination in Article 3, and paragraph 1 spoke of "just and favourable conditions of work and pay" (HRC, Third Session, Sixty-sixth Meeting, Summary Record (E/CN.4/SR.66), 5, UNOR ECOSOC, MWelC).
7. In the draft that emerged from the HRC session in Lake Success, the two articles were combined into Article 21, which read:
1. Everyone has the right to work, to just and favorable conditions of work and pay and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone is free to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests (Glendon, 297).
8. The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, commonly called the Declaration of Bogotá, was adopted in 1948 at the Ninth International Conference of American States in Bogotá, Colombia. The Organization of American States was also founded at this conference. The Bogotá declaration is divided into two sections, one on rights and one on duties. Article 14 of this declaration states:
Every person has the right to work, under proper conditions, and to follow his vocation freely, insofar as existing conditions of employment permit. Every person who works has the right to receive such remuneration as will, in proportion to his capacity and skill, assure him a standard of living suitable for himself and for his family.
Article 22 states:
Every person has the right to associate with others to promote, exercise and protect his legitimate interests of a political, economic, religious, social, cultural, professional, labor union or other nature.
Article 37 states:
It is the duty of every person to work, as far as his capacity and possibilities permit, in order to obtain the means of livelihood or to benefit his community ("The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man," Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, http://www.cidh.org/Basicos/basic2.htm, accessed 2 February 2006).
Strategizing for the Declaration and a Covenant
As the third session of the Human Rights Commission drew to a close, ER telephoned John Foster Dulles for advice. In particular, she wanted his opinion as to whether the United States should support the submission of the declaration on human rights to the Economic and Social Council for its review during the summer of 1948 and then to the General Assembly for its consideration in the fall or whether it would be wiser to delay submission of the declaration until the HRC completed the drafting of a covenant on human rights. She then invited Dulles to dinner to discuss the matter in detail. Dulles prepared for their meeting by talking with Durward Sandifer, James Hendrick, and Dr. C. Frederick Nolde.1 Dulles then sent ER the following letter and memorandum containing his thoughts on the matter.