At the first meeting of the first session of the Commission on Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt (United States) was unanimously elected Chairman, with P.C. Chang (China) elected as Vice-Chairman, Charles Malik (Lebanon) was chosen to be Rapporteur (E/CN.4/SR.1).
John Humphrey, Director of the Division of Human Rights and Secretary of the Commission, sat in on the sessions of the Commission and participated in the drafting process.
Among the Commission members, views differed whether it was of greater importance to draft a legal instrument with a strong enforcement component, or an international bill of rights that would act as a standard setting document for human rights. This issue persisted throughout the drafting process and the Commission continued to work towards both goals simultaneously. (E/CN.4/SR.7, E/CN.4/SR.9, E/CN.4/SR.10)
During its first session the Commission decided that:
(a) the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and the Rapporteur, with the assistance of the Secretariat, undertake the task of formulating a preliminary draft international bill of human rights, in accordance with the instructions and decisions of the Commission at its first session, to be submitted to the Commission at its second session for thorough examination;
(b) the Chairman, in the course of this work, might enlist the co-operation of, and should receive, orally or in writing, any observations and suggestions from any member of the Commission;
(c) the Chairman might consult experts chosen with the consent of their Governments, Members of the United Nations;
(d) the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur, in drawing up the preliminary draft of the international bill of human rights, might consult any person or document deemed by them of relevance to their work.
The Report of the first session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/259) was submitted to the fourth session of the ECOSOC.