26 June 2015: The UN and the city of San Francisco celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter Print
Justice News
Written by Joan Russow
Friday, 26 June 2015 08:07

To commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco on this day in 1945, the UN is marking the event in the city that has played a key role in the founding of the UN. There will be a public ceremony at City Hall with an audience of some 1,000 diplomats, students and community members. UN Officials will be joined at the event by the city's Mayor and other local and international dignitaries.


San Francisco Conference

Forty-six nations, including the four sponsors, were originally invited to the San Francisco Conference: nations which had declared war on Germany and Japan and had subscribed to the United Nations Declaration.

The  Conference Hall in San Francisco

The Conference Hall in San Francisco

One of these, Poland, did not attend because the composition of her new government was not announced until too late for the conference. Therefore, a space was left for the signature of Poland, one of the original signatories of the United Nations Declaration. At the time of the conference there was no generally recognized Polish Government, but on June 28, such a government was announced and on October 15, 1945 Poland signed the Charter, thus becoming one of the original Members.

Fifty Nations, Soon To Be United

The conference itself invited four other states — the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, newly-liberated Denmark and Argentina. Thus delegates of fifty nations in all, gathered at the City of the Golden Gate, representatives of over eighty per cent of the world's population, people of every race, religion and continent; all determined to set up an organization which would preserve peace and help build a better world. They had before them the Dumbarton Oaks proposals as the agenda for the conference and, working on this basis, they had to produce a Charter acceptable to all the countries.

Delegations And Staff Number 3,500

There were 850 delegates, and their advisers and staff together with the conference secretariat brought the total to 3,500. In addition, there were more than 2,500 press, radio and newsreel representatives and observers from many societies and organizations. In all, the San Francisco Conference was not only one of the most important in history but, perhaps, the largest international gathering ever to take place. The heads of the delegations of the sponsoring countries took turns as chairman of the plenary meetings : Anthony Eden, of Britain, Edward Stettinius, of the United States, T. V. Soong, of China, and Vyacheslav Molotov, of the Soviet Union. At the later meetings, Lord Halifax deputized for Mr. Eden, V. K. Wellington Koo for T. V. Soong, and Mr Gromyko for Mr. Molotov.

Plenary meetings are, however, only the final stages at such conferences. A great deal of work has to be done in preparatory committees before a proposition reaches the full gathering in the form in which it should be voted upon. And the voting procedure at San Francisco was important. Every part of the Charter had to be and was passed by a two-thirds majority.

This is the way in which the San Francisco Conference got through its monumental work in exactly two months.

One Charter, Four Sections

The conference formed a "Steering Committee," composed of the heads of all the delegations. This committee decided all matters of major principle and policy. But, even at one member per state, the committee was fifty strong, too large for detailed work; therefore an Executive Committee of fourteen heads of delegations was chosen to prepare recommendations for the Steering Committee.

Then the proposed Charter was divided into four sections, each of which was considered by a "Commission." Commission one dealt with the general purposes of the organization, its principles, membership, the secretariat and the subject of amendments to the Charter. Commission two considered the powers and responsibilities of the General Assembly, while Commission three took up the Security Council.

Commission four worked on a draft for the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

This draft had been prepared by a 44-nation Committee of Jurists which had met in Washington in April 1945. All this sounds over-elaborate — especially when the four Commissions subdivided into twelve technical committees — but actually, it was the speediest way of ensuring the fullest discussion and securing the last ounce of agreement possible.

Clashes Of Opinion

There were only ten plenary meetings of all the delegates but nearly 400 meetings of the committees at which every line and comma was hammered out. It was more than words and phrases, of course, that had to be decided upon. There were many serious clashes of opinion, divergencies of outlook and even a crisis or two, during which some observers feared that the conference might adjourn without an agreement.

There was the question, for example, of the status of "regional organizations." Many countries had their own arrangements for regional defence and mutual assistance. There was the Inter-American System, for example, and the Arab League. How were such arrangements to be related to the world organization? The conference decided to give them part in peaceful settlement and also, in certain circumstances, in enforcement measures, provided that the aims and acts of these groups accorded with the aims and purposes of the United Nations.

The League of Nations had provided machinery for the revision of treaties between members. Should the United Nations make similar provisions?

Treaties And Trusteeship

The conference finally agreed that treaties made after the formation of the United Nations should be registered with the Secretariat and published by it. As to revision, no specific mention was made although such revision may be recommended by the General Assembly in the course of investigation of any situation requiring peaceful adjustment.

The conference added a whole new chapter on the subject not covered by the Dumbarton Oaks proposals: proposals creating a system for territories placed under United Nations trusteeship. On this matter there was much debate. Should the aim of trusteeship be defined as "independence" or "self-government" for the peoples of these areas? If independence, what about areas too small ever to stand on their own legs for defence? It was finally recommended that the promotion of the progressive development of the peoples of trust territories should be directed toward "independence or self-government."

Debates And Vetos

There was also considerable debate on the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the conference decided that member nations would not be compelled to accept the Court's jurisdiction but might voluntarily declare their acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction. Likewise the question of future amendments to the Charter received much attention and finally resulted in an agreed solution.

Above all, the right of each of the "Big Five" to exercise a "veto" on action by the powerful Security Council provoked long and heated debate. At one stage the conflict of opinion on this question threatened to break up the conference. The smaller powers feared that when one of the "Big Five" menaced the peace, the Security Council would be powerless to act, while in the event of a clash between two powers not permanent members of the Security Council, the "Big Five" could act arbitrarily. They strove therefore to have the power of the "veto" reduced. But the great powers unanimously insisted on this provision as vital, and emphasized that the main responsibility for maintaining world peace would fall most heavily on them. Eventually the smaller powers conceded the point in the interest of setting up the world organization.

This and other vital issues were resolved only because every nation was determined to set up, if not the perfect international organization, at least the best that could possibly be made.

The Last Meeting

Thus it was that in the Opera House at San Francisco on June 25, the delegates met in full session for the last meeting. Lord Halifax presided and put the final draft of the Charter to the meeting. "This issue upon which we are about to vote," he said, "is as important as any we shall ever vote in our lifetime."

In view of the world importance of the occasion, he suggested that it would be appropriate to depart from the customary method of voting by a show of hands. Then, as the issue was put, every delegate rose and remained standing. So did everyone present, the staffs, the press and some 3000 visitors, and the hall resounded to a mighty ovation as the Chairman announced that the Charter had been passed unanimously.

The Charter Is Signed

The next day, in the auditorium of the Veterans' Memorial Hall, the delegates filed up one by one to a huge round table on which lay the two historic volumes, the Charter and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Behind each delegate stood the other members of the delegation against a colorful semi-circle of the flags of fifty nations. In the dazzling brilliance of powerful spotlights, each delegate affixed his signature. To China, first victim of aggression by an Axis power, fell the honour of signing first.

"The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed," said President Truman in addressing the final session, "is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world. History will honor you for it. Between the victory in Europe and the final victory, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war itself. . . . With this Charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people."

Then the President pointed out that the Charter would work only if the peoples of the world were determined to make it work.

"If we fail to use it," he concluded, "we shall betray all those who have died so that we might meet here in freedom and safety to create it. If we seek to use it selfishly - for the advantage of any one nation or any small group of nations — we shall be equally guilty of that betrayal. "

The Charter Is Approved

The United Nations did not come into existence at the signing of the Charter. In many countries the Charter had to be approved by their congresses or parliaments. It had therefore been provided that the Charter would come into force when the Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States and a majority of the other signatory states had ratified it and deposited notification to this effect with the State Department of the United States. On October 24, 1945, this condition was fulfilled and the United Nations came into existence. Four years of planning and the hope of many years had materialized in an international organization designed to end war and promote peace, justice and better living for all mankind.


In September, 2015 in New York the UN General Assembly will celebrate the 70th anniversary

The U.N. at 70: A Time for Compliance




Justice News

By Dr. Joan RussowLori Johnston


Dr. Joan Russow is Founder of the Global Compliance Research Project, and Lori Johnston (Yamasi) is Chair of the Southeast  Indigenous Peoples' Center.

If states comply with these many instruments, the global community will have more respect for the rule of international law, and more faith in the United Nations, including for the compliance with and implementation of the SDGs. Credit: UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto

If states comply with these many instruments, the global community will have more respect for the rule of international law, and more faith in the United Nations, including for the compliance with and implementation of the SDGs. Credit: UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada , Apr 27 2015 (IPS)  - At key anniversaries of the U.N., there have been calls for compliance with international instruments.

In 1995, Secretary-General Boutros Boutrous-Ghali indicated support at the 50th anniversary of the U.N., in San Francisco, and, at the 55th Anniversary, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged states to sign and ratify international instruments.

Human welfare, ecology and negotiation must be a priority over global supply chains and "profit-driven" development through coercion. 

In 2015, with the confluence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, COP 21, and the launch of International Decade for People of African Descent, there is an opportunity to again call upon states to sign and ratify international instruments, to determine what would constitute compliance with these and to undertake to comply with them through enacting the necessary legislation.

This could also be the time to advance and reinforce the concept of peremptory norms as stated in Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of treaties:

“A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law. For the purpose of the present convention, a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole.”

Peremptory norms have been described as those derived from treaties, conventions and covenants which have been ratified by all states or by most states representing the full range of legal systems and the major geographical regions. Also, peremptory norms could be derived from U.N. General Assembly Declarations and Conference Action Plans.

Ratifying key legally binding agreements

International Covenants such as on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its protocols, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); Conventions such as Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on Torture (UNTC), on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its protocols, on Endangered Species (CITES), on Climate Change (UNFCCC), on World Heritage Convention / WHC), on Desertification (UNCCD), on Ozone (MP),on Rights of the Child (CRC), on Women (CEDAW) and its protocols, on Racial Discrimination ( (ICERD), on Genocide (CPPCG) on Rights of Migrant Workers, on Labour (ILO), on Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto (CTOC) on Persons with Disabilities(CRPD); Declarations such as Rights of indigenous Peoples DRIP; peace Treaties, such as NPT, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Anti_Personnel-Mine-(APM), Cluster Munitions (CCM), Arms Trade (ATT). Respect for the jurisdiction and decisions of the ICJ, and the ICC Rome Statute are paramount.

Related IPS Articles


If states comply with these many instruments, the global community will have more respect for the rule of international law, and more faith in the United Nations, including for the compliance with and implementation of the SDGs.

Eradication of poverty and the provision for food security coalesced U.N. members behind the SDGs. Ratifying these instruments would be a step toward achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals, as these instruments will further true security.

At Rio 2012, states were reluctant to address the need to determine what would constitute adhering to key Rio Declaration principles, including the precautionary principle and principle of differentiated responsibility, which needs financial investment in developing economies.

“Innovative financing” for implementation of the SDGs

From the 1969 to 1992, U.N. States affirmed the need to move towards disarmament and the reallocation of military expenses for the benefit of humanity and the ecosystem.

In 1969, member states of the U.N. called for the achievement of general and complete disarmament and the channeling of the progressively released resources to be used for economic and social progress for the welfare of people everywhere and in particular for the benefit of developing countries (article 27 (a) XX1V of 11 December 1969 Declaration on Social Welfare, Progress and Development); and in 1992,

They made a commitment to reallocate resources at present committed to military purposes (Article 16 e, Chapter 33, “Innovative financing”, of Agenda 21, UNCED).

Furthering true security, common security

The SDGs need to redefine what constitutes “true security.”

True security is common security, not militarised security, collective security or “human security that has been used as a pretext for war: so-called “human security” (Iraq 1991, “Humanitarian intervention” (Kosovo, 1999), “Responsibility to Protect” (Haiti, 2004, Libya, 2011), “Article 51-self-defence” (Afghanistan (2003) and Syria (2015).

In 1982, Olaf Palme, in the Commission Report on Disarmament and Security, introduced the concept of common security which could be extended to embody the following objectives:

To achieve a state of peace, and disarmament, through reduction of military expenses;

To create a global structure that respects the rule of law;

To enable socially equitable and environmentally sound employment, and ensure the right to development and social justice;

To promote and fully guarantee respect for human rights including labour rights, women’s rights civil and political rights, indigenous rights, social and cultural rights – right to food, right to housing, to safe drinking water and sewage treatment, to education and to universally accessible not for profit health care system;

To ensure the preservation, and protection of the environment, the respect for the inherent worth of nature beyond human purpose, the reduction of the ecological footprint and the moving to away from the current model of unsustainable overconsumption.

Arriving at universal support of existing instruments will let the U.N. uphold the three pillars of the SDGs: economic development, social development and environmental protection.

Human welfare, ecology and negotiation must be a priority over global supply chains and “profit-driven” development through coercion.

Edited by Kitty Stapp




US has failed  to do the following:

1. to ratify the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

2. to ratify the international Convention for the Elimination of all Forms 
of Discrimination Against Women and its protocol
3. to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity and its protocols
4 to ratify the Kyoto Protocol

5. Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003

6 to ratify the Convention on the rights of migrant Workers and their families
7. to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child 

8. To adopt The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

9. to ratify the International Covenant of Social economic, and Cultural Rights
10. to ratify the Optional Protocols of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 
11. to abide by the Convention Against Torture
12. to abide by the Geneva protocols on prohibited weapons
13. and to sign and ratify the Convention for the Banning of Landmines,
14 to sign and ratify all Geneva Protocols, including Protocol V, which requires

the removal of remnants of war

I15 to ratify the protocol condemning the death penalty
16 to invoke the precautionary principle, which appears in the Rio Declaration,

the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, as a general and enforceable principle of law

17.to ratify the Basel Convention Controlling Transboundary Movement of Hazardous wastes and their disposal

18. to respect the jurisdiction and decsions of the International Court of Justice

19 to ratify the International Criminal Court


for other articles on U.N. at 70 

please go to IPS.org.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2015 20:23