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Will you bring your knowledge the first of a special series of reports from Montreal on the recent assembly for human rights. The assembly was a six day meeting in observance of the current international year for human rights. This event brought together 80 distinguished delegates and observers. They came from many parts of the world to discuss the vital work remaining to be done in the entire realm of problems which were envisioned in a general way by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in December 1948. The challenge which lay before the assembly was voiced in an editorial in the Montreal Star as the event was beginning and it said no right has any real meaning until it can be exercised no matter if it is in shrine and in the Magna Carta. An American Bill of Rights a UN Universal Declaration or the Constitution of the newest colony become a nation. The history being recorded in today's headlines about countries with the proudest claims of upholding human dignity is proof enough of this. The montréal Assembly has accepted to study the challenge that
is posed and the authorities who will present papers will be far from a cosy clique coming mainly from affluent nations with histories of cultural stability. For if anything the majority will be coming from developing nations with indigenous problems and problems stemming from pressures bearing down upon them from economically developed countries. That from the montréal star the assembly sessions took place in the meeting rooms of the International Civil Aviation building in Montreal and they resembled on the private sector level a United Nations consul in miniature. Delegates came from such countries as Yugoslavia Britain Jamaica Belgium France Nigeria Israel Turkey Brazil and many many others in a special series to follow. We bring you highlights of this colorful international gathering with samplings of Florida's gushing and informal interviews with a number of prominent participants. We will cover outstanding human rights topics such as the problems of refugees and ethnic minorities
the role of the U.N. science and its possible threats to human rights the growing concept of the Ombudsman women's and children's rights and various other aspects of a drive designed to achieve personal freedom and equality everywhere around the globe. Not to open our assembly coverage we turn to a brief interview between yours truly Roy Vogelman and the man who played the leading role in organizing the event. We're very pleased to have with us now Mr. Leslie PAF Rath who is president of the Johnson foundation for a sane. Mr. Pat read along with Mr. Sean McBride serves as cochairman of this very impressive assembly for human rights in Montreal. And I'd like to ask you first of all Mr. Patten Bret when and how the very first idea for such an international conference came into existence. Well as in most instances there's a relationship of one thing to another. And several years ago the trustees of the
Johnson Foundation approved a major involvement of the foundation in a convocation of international proportion held in New York City examining the requirements for peace based on the papal encyclical parchment terrace of the late Pope John. We faced a very difficult division of topics there and necessarily the elimination of some topics. Pope John in that remarkable document treated not only the legal the political rights of man but to emphasize to the equal strength what he referred to as the natural rights of man and the economic rights the social rights. The right to health the right to education cultural rights the hard decision with respect to that convocation several years ago was that we knew there was time only to concentrate on the political aspects. Robert
Hutchens who served as chairman of the Convocation guided us in this and I think rightly but we came away from that experience first of all with a a sense of achievement with respect to the topics that the convocation had had addressed itself to but also a sense of omission that we hadn't adequately treated the other natural rights economic social and cultural rights. And I said to ourselves simply what do we do to compensate. We were in this discussion concerning a project which might compensate for that lack. When I learned that under the International Commission of Jurists headed by Sean McBride in Geneva were bringing a group together to discuss next steps in
examining human rights and especially how international media for human rights declared by the General Assembly might be observed in a meaningful way. One of the most impressive things that came out of in a sense my indoctrination into the to the international concern for human rights was Sean McBride's determination and his colleagues determination that internationally if a human rights should be more than Camembert him. We watched international cooperation year be all to commemorative tributes all over the place but really not very much in the way of programs and of change. Sadly in fairness I must say that the UN was caught in its financial dilemma at that time and they were handicapped then coming back from those Geneva meetings. It was agreed that we would convene a group to explore what the private sector might do to
bring meaning into international year for human rights. There was a meeting held at Wingspread in Racine Wisconsin attended by almost all those who have had a principal activity in the planning of this Montreal assembly. Professors Soane and Sean McBride bastard Richardson and others. We drew up even that a provisional agenda that has led to this meeting. Now it was about how long ago that was a year ago last November the November of 1906. So smaller meetings going to larger ones. In this instance yes and we probably haven't finished to read the roster of speakers at this conferences. Very impressive experience indeed. How did you manage to round up all of these noted people from so many parts of the world. Well with good advice from those who are literally living a commitment to human rights good advice in a data filing.
Individuals from most parts of the world. Advisors like Professor sound Shaun McBride John Humphrey former director of the Division of Human Rights at the United Nations I should say that we. We didn't go after renowned persons. We went after known persons those with very great competence in many instances we got at the same time renowned persons. And so you have in Montreal at this assembly for Human Rights a very deep reservoir of the existing expertness in the world today in this field and a very diverse expertness also has very little homogeneity of this group. Once you go beyond the very general rubric of human rights there are those. Who ever dust themselves over many years to the problems of refugees others to political rights
to legal rights to the question of the problem of slavery to economic rights. It's a diverse and diverse group. Mr. Pepper how much actual influence can not official meeting of this sort have do you think in speaking the other night to a very responsive group of the press media representatives. I said what I believe that all the sponsors of this private sector conference can do is to give the representatives here the participants here an opportunity. They've got them too. Create that opportunity and to make it meaningful with expressions of philosophy of thought. Innovative ideas courageous proposals that will have to us that our own momentum and it will and then hopefully with men with
nations with the international community be implemented into action program. Would you particularly be trying to influence the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. Well specifically in point of time and first point of time the recommendations the the highlights of this Montreal assembly for human rights will be relayed without delay to the delegates attending the intergovernmental the official United Nations Conference which is taking place over a bare month later in Tehran. This if one rules out for the moment the General Assembly the annual general assembly the United Nations. This is the significant international conference of the year by the United Nations and will be attended by the most member states with the we hope a high level informed delegates being present at the then the channeling of ideas from the Montreal assembly to the Tehran meeting and in
turn back to the nations we hope will be effective. Mr. Pepper that must be quite an expensive proposition to bring. Outstanding speakers from all around the world. Is it in the main the Johnson Foundation whose generosity makes this possible. The first thing that should be said is that there are no government funds involved literally not one cent of one dollar of government funds it's a private sector effort. And in in funding at the Johnson Foundation has been joined by the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation by the Lakeview fund which is headed by Mr. DeWitt Wallace of the Reader's Digest by a fund also created by Mr. Grossman of which Mr. Mrs. Peter Weiss served with Mr. Jack Blaustein and has made a contribution out of his interest so that they are
versatile funds we wish very much they had been non-U.S. funds as well. But we haven't been able to achieve that. We very much want to continue funding in order to carry out a logical call for Sequel activities during the International Year for human rights was there any particular reason why you chose Montreal as they side of the aisle good reasons good reasons yes. We felt that the meeting should be held. Yes and I cosmopolitan place a place that in this instance is bilingual. Also a country Canada to which. Sure there would be less reluctance to travel on the part of some nations Eastern Europeans and also meetings in the United States. Whether accurate or not are apt to be thought of as being dominated
by the United States. We wanted this meeting to be truly international. Did you make much of an attempt to get speakers from the communist fair. Yes it was a very very genuine effort without outstanding success invitations were extended to individuals in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe. We have represented Czechoslovakia and we are disappointed that there is no greater representation. It may be that the assembly if it continues as a vehicle for this kind of activity will need to generate over the years the confidence of the human rights experts from those areas as it apparently has the confidence of specialists from other parts of the world already. Mr PAF I thank you very much for indicating me setting for this assembly on human rights. At the opening session of the Montreal meeting the agenda called for a brief
accounting of progress made to date in the field of human rights following a number of statements from delegates on the floor. The assembly would then go on to the real theme of the meeting. The great tasks which still lie ahead in carrying out the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the UN now it are an Opening Day address by Louis B Saum professor of law at Harvard University who served as chairman of programme planning for the assembly. Also as President has mentioned before I have been a long time in fact I started working here in 1 to 25 time international lawyers of North America United States and Canada Center working together on something called
international role of the future. And one part of that statement of postulates principles and proposals for the future the two chairman cochairman of the times we seem to have the same kind of idea as we have here of having cochairman of different countries where Munley Hudson from Harvard and Percy Corbett from McGill at that time and as a result half of our meetings of our steering committee of that time in Monterrey are fighting about principles to be put into the document. And it was a very interesting clash of personalities. Radical conservative on others. The same but on different subjects. As a result for instance on this particular point on what we do about human
rights a battle royal Percy Corbett was known to be. One of the first people who said that individuals have rights in international law money Hodgson thought this was unnecessary. There we have enough trouble as it states in international law. Let's wait until we solve those troubles before we introduce individual. We fought and fought about the question should we say anything about rights of individuals. And finally as a compromise we arrived as a solution which is quite close to the present one approach by the Human Rights Commission namely that gross violations of human rights violations that shocked the conscience of mankind are those which create an international organization show due however nothing else. And they should not be a direct access of individuals to international tribunal and so
on. They could not agree on that. So you can see that some of the problems we are facing today were already discussed in this very city 25 years ago. No I would like to look as a first point of our agenda. It's a question of what we have accomplished. As you say you forgive me if I repeat it here that we can look at the problems of human rights in the last 25 years. Like some people look at the bottle of wine some seed half empty. Some see how food. I think we are going to talk quite a lot about the empty part of the bottle. What we should put into that and you have what kind of thinks you would like to see it. However I
would like to be the optimist and look it's a good things that have happened in the last 25 years that some doctors in this area is have been won at some successes that have been me. And from that point of view I would like to call on a few participants and then I hope others would feel free to jump in to start discussion rolling. And there we've had some introductory remarks from Law Professor Lewis Saun of Harvard University. The next speaker will be introduced by Chairman so on and following the introduction we'll hear a translation of the talk which was presented at the Assembly here in the French language. One of the organizations that had been very active in this area used that ice of men. This is not you were going to use ation had been fighting
about the problems before the Second World War and I think it would be very fitting to have a face speak a person that has a perspective on it. What has happened because you know what has happened before and what it did and what a difference exists between the word human right before 1945 and after 1945. Because George aren't used to trip Mister because you don't love me she Mr. President thank you very much for having given me the floor. There's of course no question in just a few minutes and in your speech an improvised speech to give you a complete picture or even an attempt at a complete picture the development of the defense of human rights over the last 25 or 30 years. There for all only roll call or quote a number of facts which you all are
familiar with but which will help fill perhaps as you have indicated Mr. President help you to put things into a less probable suspect of and help us to keep a sense of proportion. I don't need to remind all of those who are present here today about what happened on the 10th of December 1948. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted of course. This was a revolutionary event. It was the first time in the history of humanity and as a result of the tragic circumstances that you all know and I need not recall it was the first time to human rights. Even if we go back to Magna Carta twelve hundred fifteen first sentry's human rights had simply had a partial or even a national character. So when the Declaration of Human Rights was docked at this was the first
time that human rights were being considered as a privilege of all human beings as a universal thing. It was also the first time that independently of rights with free sometimes called civil or political or formal rights. But. Economic social and cultural rights were being recognized. Rights which many people consider to be an essential basis for respecting the legal and political rights of men. You will also remember the tremendous hopes to which the adoption of the Universal Declaration gave rise throughout the world and you will remember how many wise minds are then thought as if we had really won our calls and that the world was moving towards an era of peace of respect of care for respect for the rights of each
individual. I also do not need I think to say to what extent these hopes have been disappointed over about some 20 years we have seen. Perhaps we have seen as an increasing rate of violations of human rights that are occurring in many places throughout the world. And this is even led us to asking ourselves whether. Violations of human rights since the Second World War have not occurred more frequently had not been more serious than during past times previous periods we have or we daily read in the newspapers we daily hear of the radio and television about events that should not really be taking place and in the light of the newscasts and the comments we hear we
perhaps can derive the impression that we are in a period of regression. However perhaps this is. A narrow viewpoint and it is useful to remind ourselves that if we compare the way in which news is spreading today as compared to all the way it was spreading 20 or 30 years ago we should perhaps remember that even though this perhaps to forms our viewpoint we today are able to know what is happening practically throughout the whole world the whole world. Whatever is happening concerning the respect of human rights and the way in which the rights of individuals are being preserved and safeguarded whereas 20 years ago and even more so 50 years ago not only was new. What happened elsewhere. Less easily communicated mass media and so on were less available but also the attention of both broadcasters newscasters and the attention of the public was less drawn to
the subject less aware of it. Today it has become one of the key subjects of our era respect for human rights. So therefore I think that when some of us and this happens to all of us are different dimes when some of us I say are tempted to become discouraged and to say that the efforts the efforts we have made have given quite inadequate results quite ridiculous results. We must always remember we must always remember others different tiers different point of view alls the different possibilities we have today and possibly our point of view today is very much influenced by the fact that today we have the scope of our knowledge is so much vast the the scope of knowledge available to people 20 or 30 years ago. As regards work that has been accomplished or the during the 20 years that followed the adoption of the Universal Declaration I shall of
course not even attempt to list it. The preparation of the. Agreements on human rights which were signed almost unanimously year ago have been the subject of the work of the Commission on Human Rights and the various committees and commissions of the United Nations and the adoption of these paths these agreements of course represents considerable progress even though of course there are many references will be made to this joining this conference however as will be seen during the remainder of our work there certainly. Far from what we would hope to see applied in fact. However the unanimous adoption of that sort agreements justifies a great deal of hope for the future and we hope that we will be able to derive the maximum advantage as possible from these facts or agreements. In addition to that there is the unceasing effort of the Commission on Human Rights in the various organisations of the United Nations and
specialized institutions which over the past 20 years have brought forth a series of conventions resolutions declarations upon the most varied subjects possibly the most important of which was the subject of discrimination racial discrimination as well as various other forms of discrimination which has led to a new international agreement that December 19 57 which is now being ratified and to which. Also contains implementation provisions which are far more complete and more satisfactory than those of the general pact that followed a year later. Tremendous work has been done in this field and also in the field. Very important field of the protection of the rights of women and the equality between the sexes especially as regards civil rights and the protection of women.
Great deal of useful work has also been done in the field of education particularly with the encouragement and help of your Nesco work which possibly it's been adequately known is the work carried out by the high commissioner for refugees within the United Nations. In spite of the fact that spectacular means where you lose them the resources were quite limited. The United Nations managed in the light of a convention going back to 1950 which has now been completed by an additional protocol last year. United Nations managed to get a number of countries to accept refugees and to give them citizens rights right to work right to Social Security and so on. To cover a greater number of political refugees coming from other countries where these people felt that their lives or freedom or careers were
jeopardized for political reasons. This is a very important piece of work which indeed is now being pursued in Africa. The number of displaced persons of refugees as a result of political events has gone up to 700000 most of these people have now been relocated. I think that for thousands of refugees. Ordinary persons as well as thousands of political refugees this work has helped them when they have been forced to flee their homes. It has helped them to live. Dignified lives and to take their place again within the community and more or less normal times. Mr. Chairman I am simply giving you a few examples I cannot give you a full and untrue which would've required long hours and would've required me to be. Did you say shades of meaning that I think you did very well
Mr Chairman at the beginning of a discussion which of course will bring out the weak points in the system which will bring out all the inadequacies and all the failures and all the points on which sufficient progress has not yet been achieved. It was useful and I say Mr. Chairman to show very briefly that nevertheless considerable progress has already been done and even though all our past hopes haven't yet been realized. Nevertheless certain advances have been accomplished and these not only justify hope but indeed sustained effort for the future I thank you.
Assembly for Human Rights: Montreal
Recent Progress and Challenges Ahea
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University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Highlights from the Assembly for Human Rights held in 1968 at Montreal. This prog.: Recent Progress in Human Rights and Main Challenges Ahead. Louis B. Sohn, Harvard U.; George Aronstein, Belgian League for the Rights of Man; see also next entry for info.
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-43-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:30:00
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Chicago: “Assembly for Human Rights: Montreal; Recent Progress and Challenges Ahea,” 1968-10-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Assembly for Human Rights: Montreal; Recent Progress and Challenges Ahea.” 1968-10-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Assembly for Human Rights: Montreal; Recent Progress and Challenges Ahea. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from