Dumbarton Oaks Conference

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DUMBARTON OAKS CONFERENCE was held from 21 August to 7 October 1944 at an estate in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. Four powers participated: the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China. Because of Soviet neutrality in the Asian conflict, China only attended beginning 29 September, the day the Russians departed. The conference had the task of preparing a charter for a "general international organization," as stipulated in the Moscow Declaration of 30 October 1943. The conference chose the name of the wartime alliance, the United Nations (UN), for the new body. In imitation of the League of Nations, the new UN would possess a Security Council, a General Assembly, a Secretariat, and an International Court of Justice. To avoid, however, the pitfalls of the League of Nations, the conferees concluded that unanimous votes should not be mandatory to reach decisions in the Security Councilor the General Assembly; all signatories must agree in advance to act on the Security Council's findings; contingents of the armed forces of member states must be at Security Council disposal; and that the creation of an Economic and Social Council was necessary. Certain crucial matters were deferred to such meetings as Yalta (February 1945) and San Francisco (April–June 1945). The most important deferred decision concerned the use of the veto in the Security Council. All participants at Dum-barton Oaks agreed on the right of the permanent Security Council members to exercise the veto to prevent the UN from taking any action against themselves. They nonetheless deferred for future consideration the stage at which they might interpose their vetoes. Other matters postponed for further consideration included voting procedures in the Security Council, admission to the new body, the jurisdiction of the International Court, and the former German islands in the Pacific that had been mandated to Japan.


Hilderbrand, Robert C. Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Schild, Georg. Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oaks: American Economic and Political Postwar Planning in the Summer of 1944. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Justus D.Doenecke

See alsoLeague of Nations ; United Nations ; Yalta Conference .