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United Nations Conference


UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE on International Organization was held in San Francisco from 25 April to 26 June 1945. Fifty nations attended, forty-six of them signatories of the United Nations Declaration of 1 January 1942, to finalize the proposals for an international organization designed at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference held from August to October 1944 and the Yalta Conference of February 1945. The United States delegation included the Democratic senator Tom Connally from Texas and Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg from Michigan, ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the Democratic representative Sol Bloom of New York and Republican Charles Eaton of New Jersey; Harold Stassen, former Republican governor of Minnesota and then a naval officer; and Virginia Gildersleeve, dean of Barnard College.

The conference drafted an eloquent preamble to the UN charter. It established an International Court of Justice based upon a statute drafted by a committee of jurists who had met in Washington, D.C., from 9 to 20 April 1945. The conference designed a form of trusteeship for nations considered "dependent," although leaving the exact lands to be placed under trusteeship to later decisions. The new Trusteeship Council could receive reports on economic, social, and educational conditions, but could only make inspection visits if the trustee nation approved. The new UN General Assembly was given authority to make recommendations on any subject to the new Security Council. On 2 June, the Soviet diplomat Andrei A. Gromyko almost broke up the conference by insisting that the Security Council not even be able to discuss a dispute unless each of the five permanent members voted to place it on the council's agenda. On 6 June, however, Stalin concurred with the American objection, remarking it was "an insignificant matter." Yet to meet Soviet concerns, the conference drafted Article 27, which in most imprecise language gave permanent members of the Security Council the right to prevent a substantive issue, as opposed to "procedural matters," to come before it. In the conference's technical committee, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Latin American nations all sought to end the permanent members' veto on issues of peaceful settlement, but even the United States would not budge.

Thanks to the United States, the conference adopted Article 51, which declared that "nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security." This article severely modified the Dumbarton Oaks draft, which had forbidden members to enforce the peace "under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council." It thereby gave legitimacy to the Act of Chapultepec of 4 April 1945, a regional security agreement binding for the duration of the war. The United States was able to block the seating of the Polish government, already a Soviet satellite, whereas the Soviets were unable to block the seating of Argentina, which had only declared war against the Axis on 27 March 1945. (Poland was later admitted.) The delegates finished the charter by 18 June and unanimously approved it on 26 June 1945.


Benedicks, William. "The San Francisco Conference on International Organization, April–June 1945." Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 1989.

Campbell, Thomas M. Masquerade Peace: America's UN Policy, 1944–1945. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1973.

Campbell, Thomas M., and George C. Herring. The Diaries of Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., 1943–1946. New York: New Viewpoints, 1975.

Russell, Ruth. A History of the United Nations Charter: The Role of the United States, 1940–1945. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1958.

Justus D.Doenecke

See alsoDumbarton Oaks Conference ; International Court of Justice ; United Nations ; United Nations Declaration .

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