The United Nations
In one very long sentence, the introduction to the U.N. Charter expresses the ideals and the common aims of all the peoples whose governments joined together to form the U.N.
‘We the peoples of the U.N. determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold suffering to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and 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, and for these ends, to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and 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 economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.
The name ‘United Nations’ is accredited to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the first group of representatives of member states met and signed a declaration of common intent on New Year’s Day in 1942. Representatives of five powers worked together to draw up proposals, completed at Dumbarton Oaks in 1944. These proposals, modified after deliberation at the conference on International Organization in San Francisco which began in April 1945, were finally agreed on and signed as the U.N. Charter by 50 countries on 26 June 1945. Poland, not represented at the conference, signed the Charter later and was added to the list of original members. It was not until that autumn, however, after the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the U.S.S.R., the U.K. and the U.S. and by a majority of the other participants that the U.N. officially came into existence. The date was 24 October, now universally celebrated as United Nations Day.
The essential functions of the U.N. are to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, to cooperate internationally in solving international economic, social, cultural and human problems, promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to be a centre for co-ordinating the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.
No country takes precedence over another in the U.N. Each member’s rights and obligations are the same. All must contribute to the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and members have pledged to refrain from the threat or use of force against others states. Though the U.N. has no right to intervene in any state’s internal affairs, it tries to ensure that non-member states act according to its principles of international peace and security. UN members must offter every assistance in an approved U.N. action and in no way assist states against which the U.N. is taking preventive or enforcement action.