Purposes and Principles

views updated


The main aims of the UN are set forth in the Preamble to the Charter, in which "the peoples of the United Nations," assembled in San Francisco in June 1945, expressed their determination

"to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,

"to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,

"to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

"to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."

To accomplish these goals, they agreed

"to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors,

"to unite their strength to maintain international peace and security,

"to ensure by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and

"to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples ."


The aims of the UN are embodied in a set of purposes and principles contained in Articles 1 and 2 of the Charter, summarized as follows:

  • to maintain international peace and security and, to that end, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations that might lead to a breach of the peace;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  • to achieve international cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian problems and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  • to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.


In pursuit of these purposes, the Charter stipulates that the UN and its members are to act in accordance with the following principles:

  • that the organization is based on the sovereign equality of all its members;
  • that all members are to fulfill in good faith their Charter obligations;
  • that they are to settle their international disputes by peaceful means and without endangering peace, security, and justice;
  • that they are to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against other states;
  • that they are to give the UN every assistance in any action that it takes in accordance with the Charter and shall not assist states against which the UN is taking preventive or enforcement action;
  • that the UN shall also ensure that states that are not members act in accordance with these principles insofar as is necessary to maintain international peace and security; and
  • that nothing in the Charter is to authorize the UN to intervene in matters that are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state, though this principle is not to prejudice the application of enforcement measures made necessary in the event of a threat to or breach of the peace.