While justifying United States participation in World War II, President Roosevelt said, “Never in all our history, have Americans faced a job so well worthwhile. May it be said of us in the days to come that our children and our children’s children will rise up and call us blessed?”
President Roosevelt, again, reiterated the substance of these declarations in May 1941, when during a ‘Fireside Chat’ to the nation he pointed out the application of the four freedoms to all the subject countries of the world.
Then came on August 15 1941 the Eight-Point Joint Declaration popularly called the Atlantic Charter. The Charter embodied the objectives for which the Allies had participated in World War II and enunciated the principles forming the basis of the future peace of the world.
Roosevelt and Churchill guaranteed territorial integrity to all nations and the rights of man to all the peoples of the world. But Churchill denied the application of the Atlantic Charter to India.
The wartime Prime Minister of Britain harked back to the seemingly logical, but really inconsistent and even hypocritical, plea that Britain could not “renounce the obligations arising from our long connection with India and our responsibilities to its many creeds, races and interests.”
The Atlantic Charter, thus, became a symbol of hypocrisy and so Pearl Buck rightly pointed out that World War II “is no longer a fight for human freedom, but only to save European civilisation.”
Dumbarton Oaks Proposals:
World War II had, however, increased the necessity of some international organisation which should make the nations internationally minded and possess sufficient authority to enforce its decisions.
Some suggested the idea of reviving the League of Nations by strengthening its powers and membership. But the United States devised a new plan which was submitted to the representatives of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, France and China, at a conference held at Dumbarton Oaks in the United States of America on October 7, 1944.
The five powers agreed to submit the proposals for the structure of the future world organisation to all the United Nations Governments, and to the peoples of all countries for their study and discussion. The Dumbarton Oaks Plan contained two important proposals.
The first was about the creation of an agency called the Security Council, consisting of eleven members, entrusted with the responsibility of preventing future war. Second, the member-States of the new organisation were required to place armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council in its task of preventing war and suppressing acts of aggression.
The plan was fully discussed by allied countries. Comments and constructive criticism came from several governments. The allied nations gave it wide publicity, particularly to the provision of placing armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council.
Extensive press and radio discussions were arranged so as to enable the people to judge for themselves the merits of the new plan. But the Dumbarton Oaks proposals had yet to decide about the voting procedure in the Security Council. This was done at Yalta, in the Crimea, where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met in conference.
On February 11, 1945, it was announced that a Conference of the United Nations would be called to meet at San Francisco in the United States on the 25th April 1945, to prepare the charter of an international organisation on the lines of the Dumbarton Oaks Plan.
San Francisco Conference:
Delegates of fifty nations representing over eighty per cent of the world’s population met on the scheduled date at San Francisco. They had before them the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, and working on this basis, they planned to set up an organisation which would preserve peace and help in building a better world.
The Conference was divided into various Committees and Commissions each entrusted to the completion of a special task. There were only ten plenary meetings of all the delegates, but nearly 400 meetings of the Committees were held at which every line and comma was hammered out. On June 25, the delegates met in full session for the lap meeting, when the United Nations Charter was passed unanimously.
The next day, each delegate affixed his signature on the Charter. “The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed,” said President Truman, on this occasion, “is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world.
History will honour you for it. Between the victory in Europe and the final victory, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war itself… With this Charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people.”
Birth of the United Nations Organisation:
The United Nations Organisation did not come into existence at the signing of the Charter. In many countries it had to be approved by their Parliaments.
It was, accordingly, provided that the Charter would come into force when the Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. the United States of America, and a majority of the other signatory States had ratified it and deposited notifications to that effect with the State Department of the United States of America.
On October 24, 1945, this condition was fulfilled and the United Nations Organisation came into being. Thus, “four years of planning and the hope of many years had materialized in an international organisation designed to end war and promote peace, justice and better living for all mankind.”
United Nations Charter:
The United Nations Charter contains 111 articles embodying the purposes and principles of the United Nations, and the organs through which it will is expressed and manifested.
The Preamble expresses the inspiration and guiding spirit of the United Nations. It begins with: “We the people of the United Nations” an unprecedented feature of an international document and then sets forth the basic aims of the United Nations, which are:
1. To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war;
2. To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights;
3. To establish justice and respect for international obligations; and
4. To promote social progress and better standards of life.
For the realisation of these ends, the Preamble enjoins on the peoples of the United
Nations to practise tolerance, to live in peace as good neighbours, to unite to maintain peace and security, to ensure that armed forces shall not be used, except in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the social and economic betterment of all peoples.