178 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN429, NEW YORK, 12 May 1948, 7.42 p.m.


Human Rights.

1. Drafting Committee considered additional Australian Articles[1] for the Convention. Main arguments used against us were the fact that thorough drafting of [economic][2] and [social] rights would delay covenant too long, and that fewer states would sign if they were included (we strongly contested this). United States of America appears to despair of getting much through Congress unless it is already in the United States constitution. United Kingdom also objects on principle to including [economic] and [social] in the same convention as Civil Rights because fear former could not be implemented by same machinery and hence would weaken covenant. Lebanon and China thought obligations would mean too much state power. Chile spoke strongly for our view and will also do so in next stages. Soviet expressed interest but has no instructions.

2. Against our objections Mrs. Roosevelt[3] put question whether committee wanted to consider any of the Australian Articles for inclusion in convention. United States of America, France, China, voted against consideration, and Australia, Chile in favour. United Kingdom, Lebanon and Soviet abstained. Everyone thought economic and social principles should be written into declaration.

3. Your 226. We have no information about Australian policy at Freedom of Information Conference.

[1] That is, the articles referred to in paragraph 2 of Document 176. Some twenty-three additional articles were drafted and External Affairs instructed the delegation to put them forward at an appropriate time.

[2] Words in square brackets corrected from Burton's letter to K.H. Bailey, Solicitor-General, dated 26 May 1948, informing Bailey of the drafting committee's decision.

[3] Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, chairperson of the commission.

[AA : A1838, 856/13, III]