United Nations Charter
United Nations Charter
The United Nations is an international organization created to promote global security and peace. It was established after World War II (1939–45) to replace the failed League of Nations . It was defined through its charter, which was adopted June 26, 1945. The charter is
much like a constitution that establishes the function and processes of the organization.
The writing of the United Nations Charter began in late 1944 at a conference at a mansion called Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. Only China, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union (known as the Big Four) attended. At this conference the United States proposed that international peace was intimately related to respecting the basic rights of nations and humans. Although there was some resistance among the other nations, this concept became a primary focus for the organization.
The founding conference of the United Nations was held in San Francisco from April to June 1945. At the invitation of the Big Four, forty-six other nations attended. The concept of human rights gained great support among the smaller nations. The UN Charter defined these rights very broadly as nations continued to have differences concerning specific provisions. It was promised that human rights would be defined specifically through a universal declaration as written by UN representatives later. That document is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , adopted in December 1948.
The UN Charter set up a structure that contains the Security Council as the main focus of power and the General Assembly for providing a voice to all members. The General Assembly provides open discussion among members, one vote per nation, and majority recommendations to the Security Council. The leading Allied powers (the Big Four and France, called the Big Five) received permanent membership in the Security Council. Six other nations are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms on the Security Council. The council was given the authority to make decisions to which all members are bound. A seven-vote majority is necessary to pass those decisions. Other aspects of the charter provided for the Economic and Social Council (to handle nonpolitical international problems), a Trusteeship Council (to handle the former colonial areas), a Secretariat (to handle administration) under the Secretary General, and the International Court of Justice.
Although the United Nations has not always had the power to oblige governments to maintain human rights and to pursue diplomatic resolutions, it has done much to support those efforts. It provides a forum for international discussions concerning global issues such as the environment and nuclear energy . It provides diplomatic pressure for governments to make respectful policies that consider human rights and other nations. Perhaps most notably, it has led and inspired great international movements, such as the one to support basic human rights everywhere. Many of the United Nations's efforts have inspired more individuals and groups to make demands for social, economic, or political changes within their own countries and around the world.