Urban Confrontation; 35; Humans Rights in the World Context: Rita Hauser
B. From Northeastern University the National Information Network presents urban confrontation. In the most salient illustration is South Africa which has been condemned time after time after time and all the bodies of the United Nations for its racial practices and which continues even the strongest in enforcing these practices. We have tried some measure of economic sanctions which I believe most of the experts would agree have not worked very effectively since many countries have violated them openly or secretly. And of course you come ultimately to the point of whether or not we would want to agree that force or resort to force is required.
This week on urban Pomponne taken the honorable Rita house. Representative to the United Nations this week program. But global struggle for human rights redefined. Too often. We in America see the civil rights struggle as limited to the United States alone. The fact is that the Human Rights Movement knows no boundary or national line as representative to the United Nations. Rita Hauser has distinguished herself as one of the leaders in the global struggle for human rights. She begins by explaining that the world is getting smaller and smaller and that we are affected by everything that happens in the world today. What happens today in South Africa as in Northern Ireland as in the Soviet Union and in our own country on the human level will sooner or later affect all of us on the international level where they go to the very questions of stability and peace among peoples and
among nations. I go so far as to say that I think just as on the domestic scene human rights or civil rights as we call it here has become the overriding question of domesticity politics. Human rights in the international level has to become the overriding question among nations. Who after all goes to war anymore over a strip of territory or a disputed boundary which characterized the wars of Europe and much of the rest of the world for many centuries. Today the battle cries are the same that we know at home. You hear of quests for justice self-determination freedom equality. These are the messages of humanity on the international level. We as a country became deeply committed to this ideal. And my predecessor in my current job was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt who was perhaps the most eloquent voice in the
formulation of these ideals they led finally in 1948 to adoption of a document which is the most widely quoted document of the world apart from the charter itself. And that is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now that declaration is very interesting to be studied and I have had recourse to it many many times. It divides rights into two broad categories. The first is something we are very familiar with and those are what we would call political rights of the Western tradition free speech free press the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention and fair trial and so on. And I'll come back to those in a moment. The second group I must confess was relatively new to us and it is a group of rights which we in this country are far from achieving and which many other countries have a much better record on. And those are what we call the economic and civil and social rights.
The right to a good education to decent housing to protection against the hazards of old age and unemployment in our own country these things were newly come by in the Depression. Even more so in the last decade and as we all know we are very far from achieving a brilliant record in many of them. These rights of course are paramount to millions of people in the world who constitute the new countries who came to birth after the end of colonialism and who face the most dire problems of bleak poverty underdevelopment lack of resources lack of skilled population for them. This is where the future all lies and many of them I confess sometimes with regret are somewhat indifferent to the rights in the first category the rights of political freedom we find this particularly marked in Africa and it is a source of great
conflict at times also of great learning at times to be confronted with a differing point of view about which rights in the end are more essential or more important at this stage in history. Obviously many of us here like to feel that both are important and yet I have sometimes been persuaded in private discussion of the view many of the lesser developed countries who have had to choose a form of government which to us appears or authoritarian and violative of individual rights in order to accomplish something for the greater social grown I suppose in the end it becomes a question of limits and restrictions. There are many I as I said earlier who in the world criticize us for all our great achievement of political liberty and it is great in this country who are for our failure yet to accomplish many of the social and economic
rights were such a large number of our own population so that if you look at the world situation from the perspective of both categories of rights I think the fair conclusion to be drawn is that. All countries have had a degree of success and a degree of failure including those who have been around a very long time. Therefore my own view and I confess this openly I have changed numerous of my attitude since I've come to the United Nations and I have been much less hasty to criticize others for what they have failed to achieve than I was perhaps before I gained an exposure to the problems and relative achievements of many countries. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants to each person the basic freedoms Mrs. Hauser described. We fear though that many countries do not abide by the standards of human rights the United Nations as outlined. But Mrs. Hauser is optimistic and feels that most countries have at least begun to make a commitment to human rights.
What I do find that is very gratifying is that most countries in the world today are committed at least intellectually to the accomplishment of a minimum degree of human rights for all of their population and I include all the categories of rights conflict arises obviously because people do not see the avenue toward accomplishing these rights in exactly the same way. And of course some countries I have to confess that to maintain an intellectual commitment to these rights and fall very far short of them in practice. Yet the world community stands there now with a guideline in the Universal Declaration by which we can judge and criticize and debate the accomplishments of other countries and we do this all the time at the United Nations. Whether one has to resort to force or not to accomplish a measure of human rights is a question I cannot answer.
But I think it is a question again that is relative to each person to determine for himself. If you renounce the use of force which theoretically we have done it with the advent of the United Nations then obviously you have your answer although practically we know that force is resorted to with frequency. Mrs. Hauser explores some of the most recent developments in the world community during the past few months and explains their impact on the United Nations. She talks of the men who have stood up for the rights of their fellow men and the repression that is threatening their freedom. If you feel strongly that there is still no where in the world where men's freedoms are guarded so carefully as here in the United States other places in the world where sensitivities are still high have responded much better to the criticisms that come forward in the United Nations. And I'm just going to give you a bird's eye view of a few of them that seem to me to be particularly relevant. One and to me perhaps most important is the recent developments in the Soviet
Union. I think you are probably aware that in the last year year and a half we have received at the United Nations several petitions from the intellectual community of the Soviet Union that have been smuggled out through various channels and have finally come to us are brave people who have been willing to sign their names to protest. A number of the practices of repression against dissent in the Soviet Union. We know at least some of the signers of the first petition have already suffered serious deprivations they them have lost their jobs have been denied scholarships among the students and have otherwise been transplanted in other parts of the Soviet Union. Yet the petitions continue to come. And they tell us two interesting things. Firstly they tell us that even within the Soviet Union where after all since 1917 the press and radio and television it has been carefully controlled. The message of the United
Nations of the outside world of the rest of the world's commitment to a freer way of life has reached the at least the intellectual community in the Soviet Union. They know of us and their petitions were very eloquent because they are a plea to the world at large to help them accomplish what they have not been able to accomplish at home. The second factor and perhaps even more important maybe in the end will be the most important development in the Soviet Union since the Great Revolution is the growing dissent among the intellectual and scientific community which the leaders of the Soviet Union will not be able to ignore. Indeed they have not been able to in the past. I was in Czechoslovakia in June just at the time when Professor medder yaf the distinguished biologist was placed in a psychiatric institution for his presumably psychotic views on biological theories.
This is not a new practice it's one that goes back to the czars and was common in much of Eastern Europe for centuries. There was not a single word of this event which appeared in the Soviet press so we had radio or television. Nor for that matter any place in Eastern Europe with the exception of Yugoslavia which is a relatively free country. Yet within 24 hours after his placement in the institution the word was out all over the Soviet Union among the communities that matter. And within 72 hours a petition had been drawn which was presented to the leadership of the Soviet government. The petition included the names of all the starving scientific winners. All of their great atomic physicist people that the Soviet Union cannot do without. And as I think you probably know under the pressure of that demand. Professor Mehta I f was released from the institution that has never before happened in
anybody's knowledge in the Soviet Union since the Soviet Union began. And I would say adventuring a prognostication that this will continue in intensity will develop over time and it will remain very much to see what effect this will have on the internal life of the Soviet Union and as a result on the external policies of that government. I for one think it is the most hopeful thing that has happened in the area of human freedom over the last years. Now at the same time I wish I could say since I mentioned that I was in Czechoslovakia that similar happy developments were occurring when in fact the opposite is the case. It was the saddest place I must confess I have ever been to. Having arrived in the middle of a purge in which all people of distinction who had in any way participated in the very modest Dubcek reforms were out of jobs picking
potatoes driving taxi cabs and otherwise removed from any position of influence. I must confess since I have been placed in the establishment I will say this because the thought came to me this morning in listening to the panel and I couldn't help thinking about all of our many young people here. Who have shouted a great deal about repression and lack of freedom that again as I said earlier a relative view is a very helpful one in my opinion. There is no place yet in the world where the ability to dissent and freely express one's views is as carefully guarded and protected and glorified as it is in this country. And I want to tell you in that vein that. The moratorium on the Vietnam War the one in October took place of course when the General Assembly was in session and there was a great deal of activity all around the dog home the shell Plaza
in New York. City. Walk through the demonstrations as did many and I had occasion to speak to many of my colleagues from other countries and many of them came up to tell me privately what of course they don't say in public debate because in public debate they follow the official policies of their government. They said to me you know this is absolutely the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen. Not only do thousands come out and demonstrate peacefully to oppose their president and the policies of the government. But your police stand there in a helpful way to try to claim it. Well. I would like to finish this thing because I think the theme is relevant I was going to conclude that while I think there are many things that are meritorious or change and reform in this country I for one would defend to the last the degree to which we have remained
in this country committed to freedom to free expression of views to dissent and to the democratic process. I would hope sometime again that all of you would look at this from a relative point of view to appreciate the perspective of human rights of this country on an international basis. The Honorable Ray Hauser continues her talk about the world community and the United Nations and she illustrates that in some cases the United States exerts quiet unnoticed pressure on countries who are not living up to the codes of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now there are other places in the world too where we have seen a great number of changes in the area of human rights and some of it is exceedingly gratifying even in countries that had a totalitarian tradition. This change is sometimes very slow it's painful to come by and there are long traditions to overcome but I think there is no doubt if you look at it again in the perspective of history you will
see the enormous degree to which the world at large has moved down the path of accomplishment of commonly defined and accepted goals. I'm not here to say to you as an intelligent person that the accomplishment has been perfect that it is anywhere utopia it isn't Utopia or any place else but the point is the thrust of history that is with us. And that to me is an exceedingly gratifying comment on history since 1945 and I know that it will continue in that direction because the world at large is concerned with the state of well-being freedom and ability to function is humans. We're all family of all peoples in the world. Now I heard for example this morning to comment about some other countries where we have policies of support of the government which are governments that are not adhering to all of the
standards of human rights. And again I say I leave this to each individual to judge the merits or demerits of these policies. I do wish you to know that our own government often quietly exerts great pressure on many of our friends who have not lived up to certain standards to do so. And that is felt in many places of the world and we have shown ourselves as a government and more particularly as a people receptive to the pleas of others. Let me give you an illustration of this. In particular one fight that we have had at the United Nations which is procedural but in the end will be very important. For years and years petitions have come into the human rights commission from individuals all over the world who just write to express grievances. A large part of them are frivolous but a goodly number of them do point to very abusive practices of the various governments on the charter never envisaged this and there
was nothing in the rules and procedures of the UN that would have permitted us to look into these petitions. So a few years back a number of us particularly the United States and other Western European countries determined to devise some procedure that would permit us to analyze these petitions to suggest investigations where they were required. We devised what I would consider to be a modest procedure to try to get support of many countries. And it was of course violently and I don't use that word loosely but violently opposed by the Soviet Union and its assorted friends in the UN. We persisted. We lobbied we fought we modified We compromised words. And finally I am happy to report after two years of fighting in various bodies of the UN. The procedure was adopted this year. And when the sub commission on the protection of minorities meets starting this very coming week for the first time in the history of the UN they
will be enabled officially to look into these petitions to sort them out and to make recommendations to us. Now I point this out because I want to make a further comment here. Many of those petitions will be very embarrassing to our own government firstly because many of them deal with countries with whom we are allied to the most obvious one is Greece for which petitions have come in by the thousand fold. They also include Brazil. They include Peru. They include Vietnam. They include many countries with whom we are officially related and which will cause us obviously some embarrassment. But even more so there are many petitions that have come in that concern us. They come from our own people and they come from other people. They deal with Black Panthers and Indians and riots and demonstrations and all the other questions and I can tell you at some risk perhaps of breaking a secret that when this was debated in our own State Department and I was obviously a very strong proponent of these new
procedures many times a question was put to me. Well what do we do when the petitions come in that are embarrassing to us in the ads are to me is very clear we will if we have to be be embarrassed if that's the right word but we will deal with them and we will acknowledge in dealing with them that we too are not perfect and that we too have failings in the field of human relations and that we are going to put our best mine and our best energy to try to correct them and that we are not afraid of debating them before the World Forum. This to me is a very different attitude from the one expressed particularly by our Great. Fellow superpower in the world. And if I had to say it I will I think it is the fundamental distinction between our society and that society. And I think it more fundamental than whether factories are owned by the workers or owned by stockholders I think it goes to an attitude of free minds as against controlled mines but that is just Mrs. House's point of
view. Let me give you another illustration of where we have used good offices to try to accomplish something even when it's embarrassing. The constant riots in Northern Ireland which are riots that are essentially predicated in failures in the human rights area are obviously embarrassing to our strongest ally and our greatest friend the United Kingdom and in the world of international diplomacy. Countries do not normally go about condemning violently or put in the vernacular knocking their friends. It was therefore quite an embarrassing moment when there was a lot of discussion about bringing this question before the Security Council and through a good bit of our own energies and efforts. We persuaded the British who probably were basically at that point of view to take the position that this was a fundamental question of human rights. One in which the United Kingdom had failed very substantially in doing all it should
have done and that the matter should be freely and openly discussed in the Human Rights Commission rather than in the Security Council. Now I want to tell you it was a rather dramatic moment in the Security Council when my good friend Lord keratin took the microphone to say that his government had indeed made many errors in the past and was continuing to make them presently. But that a movement was afoot to rectify these errors in this area of human rights and that he hoped the world would understand this position and would deal with it as a human rights problem. It was a moving thing because I think for those of you who are perhaps not familiar with international politics there are not many countries that I could count on my fingers that come into the world forum and say we have heard we have made a mistake. We have done wrong policies we wish to rectify the wrongs. This is already the first step in a basic commitment toward the advancement of human rights.
On an optimistic note Rita Hauser concludes by saying that she sees hope in the future as more and more nations show a greater concern over what happens in other parts of the world. Now this bird's eye view that I had given you seems to me to sum up a whole new development that I don't have time to go into in many of its details. But it is a picture from which I personally draw satisfaction. It is one in which the United Nations and the world community has inched forward in accepting any degree of responsibility for what happens to people in other parts of the world for their own welfare and their own well-being. And this of course even looked at from the narrow view of international law is very revolutionary because we are constantly breaking down the argument of sovereignty that what goes on in another country is of no concern to others. And that indeed it is an offense
for a country A to comment on what is going on in country B. Look how far the world has come in that regard I mentioned Greece earlier to you and I think with great satisfaction of the Council of Europe and the extent to which it has not only formulated treaties but developed a positive politics about this question which as you all know lead to Greece is withdrawing from the organization just shortly before it would have been voted out of the organisation. Not for anything that it did viz a viz another country but for what it has been doing visa via its own people. And this shows you the extent to which the world has developed in its view of human rights for all. I come away therefore in concluding my remarks with you today. On the obvious thing that the world has become a more humane place. At the same time it has become a more violent
place maybe this is the paradox of human history. But it is one that I think is clearly there. And one from perhaps which we can all draw some sustenance because it is only in the development of the more humane side of life the interest of all of us in the well-being of others that we are going to find some matching restraint over the development of technology and violence. On the other side. I don't personally believe that there is any other way in which the technological genius for violence that has developed in our time is going to be controlled. I note to all of you might agree with me but that is certainly my view. It's a modest one because the attempt to develop your a more humane commitment is a slow process it's not as glorious and as easy to herald as some of the new scientific achievements but it is one that is certainly
worthy of civilization in the end of the 20th century. Thank you I guess. Northeastern University have brought you the honorable Rita Hauser representative to the United Nations. Today's program the global struggle human rights redefined. The views and opinions expressed on the preceding program are not necessarily those of Northeastern University or this nation. This week's program live for you by David Browder directed by Lenny give us technical supervision by John Barr. Executive producer for urban confrontation is Jeffrey M. Feld urban confrontationist produced for the division of instructional communications at the nation's largest private university. Northeastern University
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- Urban Confrontation is an analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city, covering issues such as campus riots, assassinations, the internal disintegration of cities, and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Produced for the Office of Educational Resources at the Communications Center of the nations largest private university, Northeastern University.
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