A PROPOSAL OF A DEFINITE UNITED NATIONS GOVERNMENT
By HAROLD E. STASSEN, Governor of Minnesota
Delivered at a joint session of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Branches of the Foreign Policy Association, January 7, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 318-320.
IN responding to your invitation to speak to you this evening on the subject, "World Affairs," I realize that you are all familiar with the consistent position that Senator Ball and I have taken upon foreign policy throughout these past years.
Thus, rather than spending our time in general statements about the advisability of world cooperation, I will proceed to discuss with you a very specific pattern for international action.
I will present these definite suggestions, not with the attitude that these are the answers, but rather to stimulate a search for the best answers, to encourage a frank discussion of means and methods, and to expose my own tentative thoughts to helpful criticism and clarification.
It is important that we be specific. Perhaps the greatest present deterrent to increasing world cooperation is a tendency on the part of many people to admit its desirability, to acknowledge the correctness of general statements of the subject, but to say it is impossible to work out. History also tells us that the very successful organization structure of our own United States of America came about through a very forthright discussion of many different suggestions and proposals. This was carried on even during the War for Independence, and extended through the years of the early association of the thirteen colonies. The varied ideas were finally fitted together in the Constitutional Convention in a very earnest session of men of many viewpoints.
It is my proposal that we should contemplate, and begin to plan now, for a definite continuing organization of the United Nations of the World. China, Russia, the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America and all of the smaller United Nations should participate in this governmental structure.
On this basis, the citizens in this room, the citizens of this state in the years ahead would be not only citizens of Minnesota, not only citizens of the United States of America, but also citizens of the United Nations of the World.
The key governmental device should be a single house parliament. Representation and voting power in this single house parliament could be based upon a formula which would take into consideration the numbers of the literate population of the respective nations, the amount of the contribution of the respective members to the expenses of the joint government and the resources of the member nations. The representatives in the parliament would be selected in each nation in general accordance with the means by which the people select the members of their own legislative body. In the case of this country, some could be elected on the federal basis throughout the country, and some could be elected within groups of states to represent the states of the Union. In case of the British Commonwealth of Nations, some could be selected on a basis to represent His Majesty's government, and others on a basis to represent the individual members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, such as the Dominion of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
This United Nations Parliament would then select a Chairman of the United Nations Council who would in turn select seven members for his Council from the Parliament and submit them to the Parliament for approval.
The Council would thereupon become the executive side of the United Nations Government, and the Parliament, of course, the legislative branch, with a close inter-relationship and continuing responsibility and accountability of the executive to the Parliament.
This United Nations government should then function in seven major categories, each under one of the United Nations Councilmen.
FIRST: To establish temporary governments over the Axis Nations, preferably using citizens of the United Nations whose ancestry goes back to the particular Axis nation. Under these temporary governments, the Axis Nations should be entirely disarmed, their criminal leadership punished for their acts of horror and betrayal of civilization. But no wholesale reprisals against innocent civilian populations should be countenanced.
SECOND: To administer the great international airports and airways of the future. We all recognize the significant development in the air that will follow this war. Wendell Willkie's trip around the world, 30,000 miles, all in one airplane and with one crew, leaving this country from New York in one direction and arriving back in Minneapolis from another direction, right on schedule, dramatically emphasized these potentialities. The extreme advances taking place in designing and building aircraft, and the thousands and thousands of skilled young fliers and navigators in many nations, will bring about a very unusual development in the air. The establishment of the "right of flight," "ruler of the air," air traffic controls, elevation channels for flight in different directions, with various types of planes, the coordination of weather data, radio beams and communications and the maintenance of safe and stable airports all should be a major activity of the United Nations of the World.
THIRD: To administer the gateways to the seven seas. This likewise should be a vital function of United Nations Government. Shipping and the use of the seas will be of tremendous importance. The development in the air will not lessen its importance. Rather, this merely adds another factor in a widening range of total travel, transport and communication.
FOURTH: To increase trade between the peoples of the world. Only in this way can the general standards of living throughout the world be gradually improved. Only in this way can those countries with high standards of living maintain high standards of living without war. This does not contemplate a sudden change to universal free trade, but it does contemplate embarking upon a definite trend toward increased world trade. It will involve assurances by our government to agriculture that the total percentage of agricultural export and import will be maintained at approximately the same percentage in the increased total trade. Important factors in the world balance of trade would be increased tourist trade and increased capital investments in undeveloped Countries from this and other countries with large capital resources. Stifling obstructions or heavy dumping of goods should both be avoided, as both break down economic systems and cause world distress.
FIFTH: To increase the literacy of the people of the world. This should be approached, not as any Utopian, grandiose idea, but with the definite realization that the ability to read and write is the key to much of the progress of man.
SIXTH: To establish a world code of justice and a United Nations Court to administer that code. The code of justice should obviously include provisions protecting minorities, preventing religious persecution and abolishing slavery. The court should be named by the Supreme Courts of the member nations. The Attorney General or Counsel General would be one of the United Nations councilmen.
SEVENTH: To establish a United Nations Legion, consisting of units of air strength, efficient modern naval forces and highly mobilized, mechanized land divisions. The United Nations Legion would enforce the code of justice, support the administration of international airports, airways, sea gateways and insure the continued disarmament of the Axis nations and of outlaw areas. It would be backed by the armed strength maintained by the individual members of the United Nations including our own country.
The seat of administration of many of these functions might well be some point like Panama, readily accessible by sea and air to all continents, world-wide in its very atmosphere, and yet easily defended from attack.
Some question may be raised as to the justice of having a United Nations Government administer so many of these activities on a world-wide basis, including thereby administration of these matters over nations that are not members of the United Nations group.
It seems to me that this will be basically no different from the fact that we have in our midst many individual men and women who are not citizens of our country. Hence they have no voice in the decisions as to our government or our laws or our courts. Yet they are under the jurisdictionof our government, our laws and our courts. They have certain rights, duties, responsibilities. In fact, we even take away many of the rights of citizenship for the serious violation of our criminal laws.
Why then should there not be nations who in the world sphere must abide by the decisions, rules, justice of a United Nations of the World, even though they are not members.
Furthermore, the course should always be as clearly defined as possible, through which non-member nations may ultimately become members of the United Nations group.
To those who scoff that efforts to establish a governmental organization of some such nature and purpose are idealistic and impossible, might we point out that the alternative is recurring wars of increasing tragedy and horror.
It can also be well said that when the founding fathers of our own United States of America were struggling to devise a new method of government, the same cries of the defeatistó"Idealistic, impractical, impossible"ówere heard.
Permit me to quote from a statement of the Dean of Gloucester, Josiah Tucker, in 1786, just one year before the Constitution of these United States, which we have taken for granted for a century and a half, was drafted:
"As to the future grandeur of America, and its being a rising empire under one head, whether republican or monarchical in its form, is one of the idlest and most visionary notions that ever was conceived even by writers of romance. The mutual antipathies and clashing interests of the Americans, their differences of governments, habitudes and manners, indicate that they will have no centre of union and no commoninterest. They never can be united into one compact empire under any species of government, whatever; a disunited people till the end of time, suspicious and distrustful of each other, they will be divided and sub-divided into little commonwealths or principalities, according to natural boundaries, by great bays of the sea, and by vast rivers, lakes and ridges of mountains."
So stated the Dean of Gloucester one year before the Constitution of this country was drafted.
We now have a world-wide vision to win the war. We must keep our sights high and maintain a world-wide vision to win an enduring peoples' peace.
America, peopled by the sons and daughters of every nation in the world, living and working side by side in forty-eight different states, can and must furnish leadership in meeting this challenge.
I do not propose that we enter into the systems of devious diplomacy and international intrigue of past relationships between countries, but rather that we bring to those relations some of the forthright and direct dealing that has characterized the relations between the forty-eight states of the Union.
We should start moving now definitely in the direction of some such organization.
The Food and Supply Office now under former Governor Herbert Lehman could well become a definite United Nations Agency as a forerunner of the United Nations Government.
I understand that, as to many of the airports and harbors we are building, we are renouncing post-war rights. This may be just, but we ought to be reserving rights on behalf of the United Nations as a whole.
We could well create now a United Nations Legion, a division of volunteers with varied nationality backgrounds, capable of speaking more than one language and willing to fight side by side for the United Nations Cause, as a forerunner of the police force of the future.
The recent address of Winston Churchill, of President Roosevelt, of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, of Vice-President Wallace, are encouraging in their reference to the problems of peace.
We must say over and over again, the men can die upon the battlefields in vain because of what happens after a war as well as because of what happens during a war. During the Battle of Independence, we began to plan to win that peace. We followed through at the Constitutional Convention and won the peace.
During the war between the states, Lincoln began to plan the winning of that peace. We reverted from those plans to that shameful period of carpet-bagging and almost lost the peace. Then we worked out the means of again accepting the Southern states, in keeping with human dignity, as a part of our Union, and the nation progressed.
Our men upon the field of battle in '17 and '18 acquitted themselves well. They won a heroic, decisive victory, butówe all knowówe lost that peace.
The winning of this war must come first. It must be uppermost in our minds and thoughts and deeds. Each of us must add to the total strength of America until victory comes to the United Nations.
But, pray God, we begin now to definitely think, and plan, and criticize, and propose, and amend, and devise, and follow through, to initiate the means of winning this peace, an enduring peoples' peace, for the sake of the future welfare and progress of men, and women and little children, in this nation and in the other nations of the world.