A most uncertain crusade : the United States, human rights and the United Nations, 1941-1954 / by Rowland M. Brucken
Includes bibliographical references (p. 413-442)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
This dissertation examines American human rights policy during World War II and in United Nations debates aver the drafting of an international bill of rights. By endorsing the Atlantic Charter and the, Declaration by the United Nations, the Roosevelt administration proclaimed that the world-wide protection of political and economic rights was a central war aim. Only if nations fol1owed a human code of conduct toward their own citizens, Roosevelt believed, could peace and stability return to a war-torn world. British and Soviet objections and Roosevelt's own changing postwar vision, though, caused the State Department to weaken its human rights proposals. Only pressure by U.S. non-governmental organizations and Latin American states forced Roosevelt to retreat. The United Nations Charter called upon member nations to “promote universal respect for, and observance of human rights” and to create a Human Rights Commission (UNCHR) that would draft the world's first, bill of rights. The Truman administration supported a conservative human rights agenda at the United Nations. By December 1948, the UN had completed a non-binding human rights declaration and a cautiously-worded Genocide Convention. The UNCHR next began to draft a binding covenant, of civil and political rights. In all three endeavors, the State Department sought to incorporate American legal norms and weak enforcement mechanisms to protect domestic segregation and disenfranchisement laws. By 1950, this narrowly-conceived policy had generated an international and domestic back-lash. A growing bloc of underdeveloped nations, over U.S. objections, attached economic guarantees and the right of self-determination to the covenant. Domestically, isolationist-oriented senators, led by John Bricker (R-OH) and join by the American Bar Association, charged that the Genocide Convention and the covenant would aver urn parts of the U.S. Constitution and spread socialism. They proposed a constitutional amendment to limit the legal impact of human rights treaties. Though the amendment failed to pass, Bricker's supporters forced President Dwight Eisenhower to stop work on the covenant. Eisenhower subsequently began a short-lived propaganda campaign Soviet human rights abuses. U.S. human rights policy now returned to its WWII focus on vague, politicized rhetoric.
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