Drafting History

  1. Drafting History - Introduction
  2. Overview of Process and Key Documents
  3. Accounts of Drafting Process
  4. First Session of the Human Rights Commission
  5. First Session of the Drafting Committee
  6. Second Session of the Human Rights Commission
  7. Second Session of the Drafting Committee
  8. Third Session of the Human Rights Committee
  9. Third Committee of the General Assembly
  10. Plenary Session of the Third General Assembly Session
  11. Reference

On April 8, 1947 Eleanor Roosevelt appointed the expanded, eight-nation Drafting Committee. In June, it had its first meetings. The committee decided to take the Secretariat outline as a basis for discussion. Vladimir Koretsky, the delegate from the USSR, opened the sixth meeting with a proposal to set up a small working group. A Temporary Working Group consisting of the representatives of France, Lebanon and the United Kingdom was appointed. This small working group asked Cassin to come up with a logical arrangement of the Draft Outline supplied by the Secretariat and to suggest a redraft of the various articles in the light of the discussions of the Drafting Committee. Cassin submitted two documents (which were soon combined into one) on behalf of this group. The first of the two was Cassin's rewrite of Humphrey's articles 7 through 48. In the margin of this rewrite, Cassin lists next to each of his “own” articles the Humphrey article being copied or rewritten. According to Morsink's rough calculation, three-quarters of the Cassin draft was taken from Humphrey's first draft. Cassin clearly overstated his role when in a 1958 lecture he explained that he had been “charged by his colleagues to draft, upon [his] sole responsibility, a first rough draft” of the Declaration.(7)

At the end of the tenth meeting, the Drafting committee asked Cassin “to prepare … a revised draft of his proposal for Articles to be included in the Declaration” (SR.10/ at 13). At the twelfth meeting this second Cassin revision (W2.Rev.2,) which did not have the marginal notations to Humphrey's text, became the basis of discussion. This second revision, “submitted by the representative from France,” was discussed in the rest of the meetings and it is the document from which the Drafting Committee's final recommendation to the Second Session of the Commission was shaped.

From this point on – that is, at the end of the First Session of the Drafting Committee - all the revisions, both deletions and additions, were never again associated with any one person or country. While numerous documents were introduced or mentioned, the basic document was always the one that had been passed on by the preceding drafting stage or organ.

<<previous page next page>>

Peter Danchin, Columbia University