Friday, October 03, 2008

Add the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project to the Memory of the World

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights'

Eleanor Roosevelt was a great American in her own right as well as in the role of spokesperson for her husband. Among her greatest accomplishment was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She chaired the United Nations Committee that drafted the Declaration. Her enormous prestige, in my opinion, made the Declaration possible. Her skill in the chair brought people together who were otherwise seldom able to negotiate successfully. It was her recognition that, while cultures differ as to why people have these rights, they can agree on a fundamental set of rights which must be regarded as universal.
"Once more we are in a period of uncertainty, of danger, in which not only our own safety but that of all mankind is threatened. Once more we need the qualities that inspired the development of the democratic way of life. We need imagination and integrity, courage and a high heart."
Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was a lifelong supporter of the United Nations and of UNESCO. Not only did she chair the U.N. Human Rights Committee from 1946 to 1952, but she wrote a book to encourage people to support the United Nations, and contributed to the UNESCO Courier. (see "The Children Fight for Life" and "Partners: The United Nations and Youth")

UNESCO's Memory of the World Program seeks to guard against collective amnesia, calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Memory of the World Register lists documentary heritage which has been recommended by the International Advisory Committee, and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO, as of world significance and outstanding universal value. Currently, the only U.S. contribution included in the Register is The Wizard of Oz.

The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
is a project, hosted at George Washington University, dedicated to bringing Eleanor Roosevelt's writings (and radio and television appearances) on democracy and human rights before an audience as diverse as the ones she addressed. Thus there is not only an organization responsible for maintaining the documentary legacy of this great woman, but one that is actively promoting the dissemination of her works and their use in education.

I can think of no more appropriate collection for the United States to nominate for inclusion in UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Not only do they qualify as of outstanding universal value, there is no better collection that would symbolize the U.S. efforts to create UNESCO as a means for international cooperation to advance peace and human rights.

If you agree, contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and second this suggestion.

Eleanor Roosevelt hosting UNESCO visit to Val-Kill in Hyde Park, NY, 1948


John Daly said...

Emily Vargas-Baron wrote me:
"I totally agree. If you are forming a petition, feel free to put my name on the list. I met her at Hyde Park. A great lady who inspired me (along with Ralph Bunche whom I met at the UN in the Lumumba Room!)."

John Daly said...

Sid Passman, a former director of the Natural Science Program at UNESCO wrote: "I had the honor to be introduced to Mrs. Roosevelt in 1950 at the UN Headquarters, then in Lake Success. I was sitting as a guest with the Israel delegation (Sharett) and she came over and shook hands with us all. She was a great inspiration to my generation.

"A friend of mine hosted her visit to UNESCO soon after the siege was opened at
Fontenoy. She wanted to see the art donated by various member states. She looked at the enormous work of Picasso and opined that it was not one of his best works!"