Commission Tackles Racism, Religious Intolerance
BY SAUL CARSON
(JTA Correspondent at the
(Copyright, 1966, JTA, Inc.)
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. —
up again, a small United Nations
o of only 14 members has been
tittracting attention that is incom-
mensurate with its size. As is often
the case with small groups, it has
a verly long title: The Subcommis-
sion on Prevention of Discrimina-
tion and Protection of Minorities.
It is a subsidiary of the United Na-
tions Commission on Human Rights.
It is a group that can only initiate
studies, and is restricted merely to
recommendations which, in turn,
go to the full Commission on Hu-
man Rights, thence to the Econom-
ic and Social Council—finally to
the General Assembly, where such
resolutions must pass through the
Social, Humanitarian and Cultural
Committee before they are acted
upon by a plenary session.
It was this subcommission that
gave birth, in 1960, to the plans
for United Nations conventions to
outlaw racism and religious intol-
erance. The antiracism convention
was adopted at the last session of
the General Assembly. The relig-
ious item is now on the agenda of
the subcommission. But, since the
full Human Rights Commission
must give high priority to the re-
ligious freedom item at its next
session, to be held here in March,
the work of the subcommission at
this time has very little value, ex-
cept as advice.
On the agenda, too, are reviews
of important issues resulting from
recommendations by past sessions
of the subcommission. These mat-
ters include discrimination in em-
ployment, discrimination in the
matter of religious rights and prac-
tices, and discrimination in respect
to the right of everyone to leave
any country or return thereto.
These are vital, fundamental hu-
man rights. But action on these
issues has been taken in the last
few years, and only reviews are
scheduled for 1966.
The importance of these issues
Is attested by the fact that vir-
tually all important Jewish or-
ganizations around the world
sent representatives to the very
opening session of the subcom-
mission. Included were the Co-
ordinating Board of JewiSh Or-
ganizations, representing Bnai
Brith and the Board of Deputies
of British Jews; the Coordinat-
ing Council of Jewish Organiza-
tions, renresenting the Anglo-
Jewish Association and Alliance
Israelite Universelle; and the
World Jewish Congress.
On the subcommission itself,
Jews have always played an fin-
ortant role. For years, the expert
representing the United States was
the late Judge Philip Halpern.
Later, the U. S. man (all members
of the Subcommission serve as in-
dividual experts, rather than as of-
ficial representatives of their gov-
ernments) was Morris B. Abram,
president of the American Jewish
Committee. Abram is off the sub-
commission now only because he
has been elected to membership
on the group's parent body, the
full Human Rights Commission.
Another member of the Subcom-
mission this year is Judge Zeev W.
Zeltner, of the Israel District
Court in Tel Aviv. Due to illness,
Judge Zeltner could not attend the
group's opening meetings, so an
alternate was seated in his place,
another Israeli, Dr. 1Vleir Rosenne.
a member of the fulltime Israeli
government staff in New York. He
is well known as one of Israel's
principal experts on minority prob-
lems. It is the first time in the
group's entire history that Israel
has had an official expert among
its members — although Dr. Ro-
senne has often been present in
the subcommission's sessions as Is-
rael's observed. In addition, Jus-
tice Hahn Cohen, of Israel's Su-
preme Court, is a member of the
full Human Rights Commission.
Jewry attaches great importance
to the work of both the subcom-
mission and its parent body. What
is significant, too, is that the world
recognizes the importance of Jews
whenever human rights are de-
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