NEW YORK (Apr. 27)
The American Jewish Congress today urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to “move promptly and positively” in recommending Senate ratification of the United Nations Genocide Convention. In a letter to Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright. Eleazar Lipsky, chairman of the Congress’ Commission on International Affairs, said that U.S. failure to ratify the treaty for more than 20 years “has compromised our country’s support of the world-wide effort to elevate standards of morality and decency among nations.” Noting that President Nixon. Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Attorney General John Mitchell have endorsed the call for immediate ratification, Mr. Lipsky declared that responsibility for action “now rests inescapably upon the Senate.”
The AJ Congress statement came as a Foreign Relations subcommittee continued hearings today on the Genocide Convention, which was submitted to the Senate by President Truman. Since the treaty’s adoption by the United Nations in 1948, 75 nations have ratified it. The United States–in what Mr. Lipsky termed a “tragic impasse”–has withheld endorsement until now. The hearings, which began last Thursday before the special subcommittee on the Genocide Convention of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opened with a plea for ratification by Sen. William Proxmire, Democrat of Wisconsin, who said he had been working since 1967 to get the Senate to ratify this and other UN human rights conventions. Administration representatives argued for ratification on the grounds that U.S. approval of the treaty would give it more powers as world law, and more clout in world public opinion. “Senate ratification of the Genocide Convention will publicly reaffirm our fundamental belief that human life is most precious,” Sen. Proxmire said.
The Genocide Convention was passed by the UN in the wake of Hitler’s systematic extermination of six million Jews. The treaty pledges each nation to end genocide and to pass legislation making genocide a crime within its own country. Dr. William Pierce, representative of the National Socialist White Peoples Party, claimed that the convention “would not…prevent or…punish racial or religious massacres in this country.” He said ratification had not stopped the Congo from massacring the whites, Cambodia from executing the Vietnamese, or Israel from deliberately destroying the Palestinians. All those countries have ratified the convention. The hearings are led by subcommittee chairman Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho.