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U. N. Assembly Adopts Convention on Human Rights; Affects Jews in Russia

December 22, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A most far-reaching instrument guaranteeing to all people in all countries, including the Soviet Union, fullest enjoyment of all human rights was adopted here today without dissent by a plenary session of the General Assembly.

The document, an International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Intolerance, defines “racial discrimination” as applicable to all persons or groups of any race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin. It orders specifically, among the many rights:

1) The right to education and training;

2) The right to equal participation in cultural activities;

3) The right of any individual to leave his own country or to return to that country;

4) The right of any individual or group to file a petition directly to a special 18 member United Nations committee, complaining against violation of human rights by the country in which the individual or group lives;

5) Protection of an individual filing a complaint against his own country from disclosure of such an individual’s identity;

6) The right of a state to file complaints against another state accused of violating human rights.

The Convention also orders all states ratifying the instrument to prohibit formation of or practices by all organizations based on theories of racial or ethnic superiority. It condemns all such ideas and practices and calls upon states to make organizations of that type illegal and to punish practitioners of racism. It prohibits the state itself, as well, from engaging in any practices of that kind, outlaws racist propaganda and bans incitement to racial discrimination.

The convention was adopted by a vote of 106 in favor to none against. Only one member state, Mexico, abstained, due to internal parliamentary requirements. The Convention will go into force 30 days after it had been ratified by 27 states, including not only members of the United Nations but also many others, like West Germany, that are members of affiliated U. N. bodies like the specialized agencies and the Hague Tribunal.


A draft that would forbid all religious intolerance is still pending. But it was pointed out that the Convention adopted today protects many groups, like the Jews in the USSR, from many discriminations because the instrument protects all ethnic and national groups. In the USSR, Jews are considered a national group, while at the United Nations Jews are considered by many experts and delegations as an ethnic group.

One of the most significant clauses in the Convention adopted today, in the view of many observers here, including those representing world Jewish bodies, is an article providing for the right of individuals to complain against their own governments, if such a government is a party that had ratified the instrument. Thus, any individual or group in any country will have the right, for the first time in history, to take this type of grievance directly to a special U. N. body, and the individual’s identity will be guarded against possible retaliation by his government.

Every world Jewish organization having consultative status at the United Nations has been pressing for the adoption of the Convention, despite the fact that an amendment proposing condemnation of anti-Semitism, introduced by the United States and Brazil, had been killed in earlier presentations through the intervention of the Soviet Union.

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