June 26, 1945
United States Department of State Bulletin.
Address by President Truman
MR. CHAIRMAN AND DELEGATES TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION:
I deeply regret that the press of circumstances when this Conference opened made it impossible for me to be here to greet you in person. I have asked for the privilege of coming today, to express on behalf of the people of the United States our thanks for what you have done here, and to wish you Godspeed on your journeys home.
Somewhere in this broad country, every one of you can find some of our citizens who are sons and daughters, or descendants in some degree, of your own native land. All our people are glad and proud that this historic meeting and its accomplishments have taken place in our country. And that includes the millions of loyal and patriotic Americans who stem from the countries not represented at this Conference.
We are grateful to you for coming. We hope you have enjoyed your stay, and that you will come again.
You assembled in San Francisco nine weeks ago with the high hope and confidence of peace-loving people the world over.
Their confidence in you has been justified.
Their hope for your success has been fulfilled.
The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed 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 Japan, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war itself.
It was the hope of such a Charter that helped sustain the courage of stricken peoples through the darkest days of the war. For it is a declaration of great faith by the nations of the earth-faith that war is not inevitable, faith that peace can be maintained.
If we had had this Charter a few years ago-and above all, the will to use it-millions now dead would be alive. If we should falter in the future in our will to use it, millions now living will surely die.
It has already been said by many that this is only a first step to a lasting peace. That is true. The important thing is that all our thinking and all our actions be based on the realization that it is in fact only a first step. Let us all have it firmly in mind that we start today from a good beginning and with our eye always on the final objective, let us march forward.
The Constitution of my own country came from a Convention which-like this one-was made up of delegates with many different views. Like this Charter our Constitution came from a free and sometimes bitter exchange of conflicting opinions. When it was adopted, no one regarded it as a perfect document. But it grew and developed and expanded. And upon it there was built a bigger, a better, a more perfect union.
This Charter, like our own Constitution, will be expanded and improved as time goes on. No one claims that it is now a final or a perfect instrument It has not been poured into any fixed mold. Changing world conditions will require readjustments-but they will be the readjustments of peace and not of war.
That we now have this Charter at all is a great wonder. It is also a cause for profound thanksgiving to Almighty God, who has brought us so far in our search for peace through world organization.
There were many who doubted that agreement could ever be reached by these fifty countries differing so much in race and religion, in language and culture. But these differences were all-forgotten in one unshakable unity of determination-to find a way to end war.
Out of all the arguments and disputes, and different points of view, a way was found to agree. Here in the spotlight of full publicity, in the tradition of liberty-loving people, opinions were expressed openly and freely. The faith and the hope of fifty peaceful nations were laid before this world forum. Differences were overcome. This Charter was not the work of any single nation or group of nations, large or small. It was the result of a spirit of give-and-take, of tolerance for the views and interests of others.
It was proof that nations, like men, can state their differences, can face -them, and then can find common ground on which to stand. That is the essence of democracy; that is the essence of keeping the peace in the future By your agreement, the way was shown toward future agreement in the years to come.
This Conference owes its success largely to the fact that you have kept your minds firmly on the main objective. You had the single job of writing a constitution-a charter for peace. And you stayed on the job.
In spite of the many distractions which came to you in the form of daily problems and disputes about such matters as new boundaries, control of Germany, peace settlements, reparations, war criminals, the form of government of some of the European countries-in spite of all these, you continued in the task of framing this document.
Those problems and scores of others, which will arise, are all difficult. They are complicated. They are controversial and dangerous.
But with united spirit we met and solved even more difficult problems during the war. And with the same spirit, if we keep to our principles and never forsake our objectives, the problems we now face and those to come will also be solved.
We have tested the principle of cooperation in this war and have found that it works. Through the pooling of resources, through joint and combined military command, through constant staff meetings, we have shown what united strength can do in war. That united strength forced Germany to surrender. United strength will force Japan to surrender.
The United Nations have also had experience, even while the fighting was still going on, in reaching economic agreements for times of peace. What was done on the subject of relief at Atlantic City, food at Hot Springs, finance at Bretton Woods, aviation at Chicago, was a fair test of what can be done by nations determined to live cooperatively in a world where they cannot live peacefully any other way.
What you have accomplished in San Francisco shows how well these lessons of military and economic cooperation have been learned. You have created a great instrument for peace and security and human progress in the world.
The world must now use it!
If we fail to use it, we shall betray all those who have died in order 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 successful use of this instrument will require the united will and firm determination of the free peoples who have created it. The job will tax the moral strength and fiber of us all.
We all have to recognize-no matter how great our strength-that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please. No one nation, no regional group, can or should expect any special privilege which harms any other nation. If any nation would keep security for itself, it must be ready and willing to share security with all. That is the price which each nation will have to pay for world peace. Unless we are all willing to pay that price, no organization for world peace can accomplish its purpose.
And what a reasonable price that is!
Out of this conflict have come powerful military nations, now fully trained and equipped for war. But they have no right to dominate the world. It is rather the duty of these powerful nations to assume the responsibility for leadership toward a world of peace. That is why we have here resolved that power and strength shall be used not to wage war, but to keep the world at peace, and free from the fear of war.
By their own example the strong nations of the world should lead the way to international justice. That principle of justice is the foundation stone of this Charter. That principle is the guiding spirit by which it must be carried out-not by words alone but by continued concrete acts of good-will.
There is a time for making plans-and there is a time for action. The time for action is now! Let us, therefore, each in his own nation and according to its own way, seek immediate approval of this Charter-and make it a living thing.
I shall send this Charter to the United States Senate at once. I am sure that the overwhelming sentiment of the people of my country and of their representatives in the Senate is in favor of immediate ratification.
A just and lasting peace cannot be attained by diplomatic agreement alone, or by military cooperation alone. Experience has shown how deeply the seeds of war are planted by economic rivalry and by social injustice. The Charter recognizes this fact for it has provided for economic and social cooperation as well. It has provided for this cooperation as part of the very heart of the entire compact.
It has set up machinery of international cooperation which men and nations of good-will can use to help correct economic and social causes for conflict.
Artificial and uneconomic trade barriers should be removed-to the end that the standard of living of as many people as possible throughout the world may be raised. For Freedom from Want is one of the basic Four Freedoms toward which we all strive. The large and powerful nations of the world must assume leadership in this economic field as in all others.
Under this document we have good reason to expect the framing of an international bill of rights, acceptable to all the nations involved. That bill of rights will be as much a part of international life as our own Bill of Rights is a part of our Constitution. The Charter is dedicated to the achievement and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Unless we can attain those objectives for all men and women everywhere-without regard to race, language, or religion-we cannot have permanent peace and security.
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.
The world has learned again that nations, like individuals, must know the truth if they would be free-must read and hear the truth, learn and teach the truth.
We must set up an effective agency for constant and thorough interchange of thought and ideas. For there lies the road to a better and more tolerant understanding among nations and among peoples.
All Fascism did not die with Mussolini. Hitler is finished-but the seeds spread by his disordered mind have firm root in too many fanatical brains It is easier to remove tyrants and destroy concentration camps than it is to kill the ideas which gave them birth and strength. Victory on the battlefield was essential, but it was not enough. For a good peace, a lasting peace, the decent peoples of the earth must remain determined to strike down the evil spirit which has hung over the world for the last decade.
The forces of reaction and tyranny all over the world will try to keep the United Nations from remaining united. Even while the military machine of the Axis was being destroyed in Europe-even down to its very end they still tried to divide us.
They failed. But they will try again.
They are trying even now. To divide and conquer was-and still is-their plan. They still try to make one Ally suspect the other, hate the other, desert the other.
But I know I speak for every one of you when I say that the United Nations will remain united. They will not be divided by propaganda either before the Japanese surrender-or after.
This occasion shows again the continuity of history.
By this Charter, you have given reality to the ideal of that great statesman of a generation ago-Woodrow Wilson.
By this Charter, you have moved toward the goal for which that gallant leader in this second world struggle worked and fought and gave his life-Franklin D. Roosevelt.
By this Charter, you have realized the objectives of many men of vision in your own countries who have devoted their lives to the cause of world organization for peace.
Upon all of us, in all our countries, is now laid the duty of transforming into action these words which you have written. Upon our decisive action rests the hope of those who have fallen, those now living, those yet unborn-the hope for a world of free countries-with decent standards of living-which will work and cooperate in a friendly civilized community of nations.
This new structure of peace is rising upon strong foundations.
Let us not fail to grasp this supreme chance to establish a world-wide rule of reason-to create an enduring peace under the guidance of God.
It is with a full heart that I address this final plenary session of the United Nations Conference on International Organization
Two months ago the delegates here assembled met for the first time. We came from many parts of the earth, across continents and oceans. We came as the representatives of fifty different nations. But we came here first of all as the representatives of humanity and as the bearers of a common mandate to write the Charter of a world organization to maintain peace for all nations and to promote the welfare of all men.
Every nation represented here has had a part in the making of the Charter. Sentence by sentence, article by article, it has been hammered out around the Conference tables. We have spoken freely with each other. Often we have disagreed. When we disagreed we tried again, and then again, until we ended by reconciling the differences among us.
This is the way of friendship and of peace. This is the only way that nations of free men can make a charter for peace, and the only way that they can live at peace with one another.
The San Francisco Conference has fulfilled its mandate. The Charter of a permanent United Nations has now been written.
Today we meet together for the last time at this Conference. Tomorrow we shall separate and return home, each to his own country. But in this Charter we will carry to our Governments and to our peoples an identical message of purpose and an identical instrument for the fulfillment of that purpose.
We shall bring this Charter to a world that is still racked by war and by war's aftermath.
A few days ago I talked with some young Americans just back from the battle-front. They lay wounded and in pain in the beds of an Army hospital.
As I talked with them I thought of the many millions who have risked all and sacrificed future and life itself to give the world this chance. I thought of all those men and women and children of the nations represented in this meeting place today whom tyranny with bomb and bayonet, starvation, fire, and torture could kill but never conquer. And I thought of all the cities now in ruins and all the land laid waste.
The terrible trial is not yet over. The fighting continues. The reconstruction has only just begun.
This Charter is a compact born of suffering and of war. With it now rests our hope for good and lasting peace.
The words upon its parchment chart the course by which a world in agony can be restored and peace maintained and human rights and freedoms can be advanced. It is a course which I believe to be within the will and the capacity of the nations at this period of world history to follow.
To the Governments and peoples of the fifty nations whose representatives have labored here the Charter is now committed. May Almighty God, from this day on, and in the months and years to come, sustain us in the unalterable purpose that its promise be fulfilled.
The United Nations Conference on International Organization has concluded its vitally important mission of writing a Charter. This instrument will, I believe, prove itself to be an epoch-making document and will rank in its contribution to international justice and peace with the Magna Carta and the Constitution of the United States in their contribution to political liberty and representative government. As we look back upon the eight weeks we have spent on this stupendous task, we cannot fail to recall with even greater appreciation the fullness of the discussion, the earnestness in the debates the hard work of the technical committees, and the spirit of conciliation, all of which factors have helped to make the Charter an instrument of high ideal and practical wisdom. None of the delegations may find all that they wished to see embodied in it, but they will agree, I am sure, that it contains the essential features for the building of a world organization to promote international justice, peace, and prosperity. Without the valuable contribution, however, of all the participating delegations, we could not have achieved this splendid result.
The idea of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states, and open to membership by all such states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security, was first conceived by that preeminent leader, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the late President of the United States, and the veteran statesman, Cordell Hull, when he was Secretary of State. It was consecrated in the four-power declaration of Moscow and implemented by a set of concrete Proposals at Dumbarton Oaks. These Proposals have now been further elaborated and improved at San Francisco.
Mere mention of the fact that twenty-nine amendments were jointly submitted to the Conference by the four sponsoring powers and literally hundreds of other amendments by the other participating delegations gives an indication of the common desire and determination to complete and perfect the Dumbarton Oaks plan of a permanent Charter. We are glad to see in the completed instrument today many new features. Provisions have been added which emphasize that the adjustment or settlement of international disputes should be in conformity with the principles of justice and international law; which aim to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental-freedoms for all without distinction as to race, language, religion, or sex; which expressly recognize the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense in the event of an armed attack; which stress the importance of cooperation in the solution of international economic, social, cultural, and other humanitarian problems; which empower the Economic and Social Council to set up commissions in these diverse fields of activity in order to achieve positive results; and which, lastly but far from being of the least importance, provide a comprehensive and liberal system of international trusteeship, stipulating independence and self-government among its fundamental objectives. These are only illustrations but they are sufficient, I hope, to show the broad scope, the high principles, and the noble purposes of the new Charter.
The constitution of the Organization of the United Nations is now written and signed, and will in due course be ratified by the governments represented at this Conference. It remains for us to continue to foster mutual trust and friendly collaboration in order to make this, the greatest of international experiments, a great success in fact.
We of the Chinese Delegation came to San Francisco to cooperate, and we have been glad to find cooperation the happy keynote of the whole Conference. We are confident that, with faith in the future and with the same spirit of cooperation as has guided us in our deliberations here in the Golden City, lasting peace and continued prosperity will be within the gift of the new Organization to the whole world. This is not an utopian dream. We believe it to be a legitimate aspiration, a reasonable hope, and indeed, when fully realized, it will be a just reward for our exertions in the arduous common struggle which has cost us all, and will cost us more still, untold sacrifice of life, blood, and treasure. The genius of man has devised the plan and completed the instrument, and we fervently hope that the spirit of cooperation will always guide its operation in order to achieve its lofty aims.
We have stayed two months here in San Francisco. The excellent arrangements made by the Government of the United States have made our sojourn here both pleasant and fruitful. As the representatives of one of the sponsoring powers, we of the Chinese Delegation feel especially grateful to the host Nation. We wish also to express our deep appreciation of the hospitalities of the city and people of San Francisco. But I cannot conclude my remarks without acknowledging also the splendid and most valuable work of the Honorable Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Secretary of State and Chairman of the American Delegation, who, in his various high capacities in the Conference and with the assistance of an efficient secretariat, has made a unique contribution to the success of the Conference. To him as also to his able and distinguished colleagues on his Delegation, we owe an immense debt of gratitude, and to them all we wish to extend our thanks and our admiration. I sincerely believe that these sentiments are not ours alone but are fully shared by the other delegations to the Conference.
The United Kingdom is proud to have shared with our Allies and friends in all that has led to this gathering of nations. And it is fitting that we should have met in a great American city. For it was a President of the United States who brought a project of peace before the world in 1918. To another President we largely owe our very name, our victory, and our present purpose. Finally, on this historic day in the world's long search for peace, his successor comes to set his own stamp of approval and support upon our labours.
Our work now stands for the world to judge, and I am confident that neither Mr. Cordell Hull, in whose vision this design took shape, nor Mr. Stettinius, whose courage and character have served it well, need fear the verdict. For the Charter is a notable advance, both on all that has gone before and on the plan of the Sponsor Powers, from which it grew. I do not doubt that in this result the future will acknowledge the part of all nations, and not the least, I hope, that of the different members of the British Commonwealth. We cannot indeed claim that our work is perfect or that we have created an unbreakable guarantee of peace. For ours is no enchanted palace to "spring into sight at once," by magic touch or hidden power. But we have, I am convinced, forged an instrument by which, if men are serious in wanting peace and are ready to make sacrifices for it, they may find means to win it.
Here in San Francisco we have seen but the beginnings of a long and challenging endeavour. And there is a sense in which what we have done here is less important than what we have learnt here. We have learnt to know one another better; to argue with patience; to differ with respect; and at all times to pay honour to sincerity. That the thought of many men of many nations should thus have met in a large constructive task will have a value beyond price during the coming years, as stone by stone we carry on what we have here begun. Time alone can show whether the house that we have tried to build rests upon shifting sand, or, as I firmly hope, upon solid rock, to stand as shield and shelter against every storm.
Long years ago in Europe men set themselves to raise a cathedral of God's glory. "Let us," they said, "build a church so great that those who come after us will think us mad to have attempted it." So they said, and wrought, and, after many years achieved; and the great cathedral at Seville is their monument.
Let us also, mindful alike of the world's need and of our own weakness, pray that, under God's guidance, what we have done here in these last weeks will be found worthy of the faith that gave it birth and of the human suffering that has been its price.
Today we sum up the results of the historic Conference of the United Nations, gathered to work out the Charter of the Organization on the maintenance of peace and security. The foundation of this international Organization was laid down even at the time when the war was raging in Europe, when the enemy, though having suffered a serious defeat, resisted furiously. These foundations, as it is known, were laid at the Moscow Conference of the ministers for foreign affairs of the United States of America, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, and at the historic Crimea Conference.
The peace-loving nations who suffered countless sacrifices in this war naturally rest their hopes on the establishment, by collective efforts, of an international instrument which could prevent the repetition of a new tragedy for humanity. In accordance with the decisions adopted at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, Marshal Stalin said: "To win the war against Germany means to carry out a great historical deed. But to win the war still does not mean the insurance of lasting peace and security for the people in the future. The task is not only to win the war but also to make impossible the occurrence of a new aggression and a new war, if not forever, then at least for a long I period of time."
When asked whether there is some means for preventing German aggression, to nip it in the bud if war breaks out, and keep it from developing into a big war, Marshal Stalin gave the following answer: "To achieve this, there is only one means besides the complete disarmament of the aggressor nations: to establish a special organization for defense of peace and insurance of security, from among the representatives of the peace-loving nations; to place at the disposal of the steering body of this Organization the maximum quantity of armed forces sufficient for the suppression of aggression; and to convince this Organization, in case of necessity, to send without any delay these armed forces for the prevention and liquidation of aggression, for the punishment of those guilty of aggression."
At the same time Marshal Stalin pointed out that the actions of that Organization would be sufficiently effective if the great powers who carried the main burden of the war against Hitlerite Germany would continue to act in the spirit of unanimity and accord. These actions will not be effective if a breach of this indispensable condition occurs.
Such are the principles by which the Soviet Government has been guided while taking an active part in the establishment of the international security Organization and by which the Soviet Delegation has been guided in the course of the work of this Conference.
Naturally, at this final session a question arises as to the results of this Conference and whether it has fulfilled its task. The Charter of the Organization, which is the result of ceaseless work of delegations participating in the Conference, affords solid ground to consider the work of the Conference a success.
The Charter of the United Nations provides for the establishment of the Security Council possessing powers and means necessary for prevention or suppression of aggression. The Security Council, exercising its functions and powers for the maintenance of peace, will act on behalf of all members of the United Nations. States members of the United Nations, as the Charter provides, agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. These provisions of the Charter alone emphasize the efficient character of the international machine for the maintenance of the peace which we are establishing.
The Charter provides that the body of the Security Council will include five great powers as permanent members: the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Great Britain, France, and China. The decision of the Conference to give permanent seats in the Council to five great powers is recognition of the obvious fact that the Security Council can possess sufficient means and forces necessary for the maintenance of peace only if it permanently includes those countries which have sufficient resources in men and material necessary for the successful and effective fulfillment of its duties.
The whole world is aware of the role of these powers in their fight together against aggression in the course of the second World War, and the role played by each of them.
In the European war which has just ended the Allied powers demonstrated their ability to carry out the task of annihilating the strongest and most cunning enemy in history. Without cooperation between them it would be impossible to carry out so successfully the task of defeating Hitlerite Germany. Without such cooperation, it would be impossible in the future to carry out the task of preserving peace.
The Conference devoted much of its time to the question of working out the part of the Charter dealing with the establishment of the second important organ of the Organization-the General Assembly-and defining its functions and powers. These functions and powers, as defined by the Charter, give the Assembly great opportunities to make an important contribution to the cause of the maintenance of peace and security. Besides, within the sphere of functions and powers of the General Assembly there are a great number of questions on economic, social, political, and cultural cooperation and other questions within the scope of the Charter and within the scope of functions and powers of the-organs provided for by this Charter: the Economic and Social Council, the council on territorial trusteeship, and other organs.
Thus, for each member of the international Organization, for all states, great and small, there are great opportunities for making contributions to the common cause of the maintenance of peace and strengthening cooperation between the United Nations in the interest of the well-being and prosperity of all peoples.
Of course in the course of the work of the Conference there were some difficulties and differences of views between separate delegations on these or other questions. However, one should be surprised not at the existence of these difficulties and not at the existence of different viewpoints between separate delegations on these or other questions, but at the fact that, as a result of the work of the Conference, all the main difficulties were overcome, and we succeeded in fulfilling successfully the tasks before the Conference. We prepared a document which should become the basis for the actions of the international Organization-its constitution. Naturally, the very best and most perfect Charter in itself is not yet a guaranty that its provisions will be carried out and insure the preservation of peace. In order to achieve this important and noble task it is also necessary, in addition to the, existing Charter, to have the unity and coordination of actions of members of the international Organization, and first of all the unity and coordination of action between the most powerful military powers of the world. It is also necessary that all members of the international Organization should try to settle all disputes by peaceful means in the spirit of cooperation and good-will.
The Delegation of the Soviet Union in the course of the work of the Conference aimed at the creation of a Charter of the international Organization which could guarantee the effective fulfillment of the tasks confronting the Organization.
I am glad to emphasize that the Soviet Delegation in its work found understanding and support on the part of many other delegations participating in this Conference. It could not be otherwise. The peoples of the countries represented at this Conference pursue a common objective-to prevent the repetition of a new war.
The provisions of the Charter, which have been worked out, cover a great number of questions and problems defining the future activity of the Organization as a whole and its separate organs. In this connection it is necessary to point out specially the significance of those provisions of the Charter which refer to peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts. The participants in the Conference paid great attention to this field of their work. Under the Charter, members of the international Organization obligate themselves to achieve peaceful settlements of the disputes. Let us hope that this aim will be fully realized.
In conclusion I wish to express confidence that this Conference of the United Nations will go down in the history of humanity as one of the most significant events and that our efforts will be beneficial for all peace-loving peoples of the world, who endured so many hardships and sufferings as a result of the conflagration set by Hitlerite Germany.
I take this occasion to thank the Government of the United States on behalf of the Soviet Delegation for the hospitality shown to us, participants in the Conference, and especially to thank Mr. Truman, President of the United States, whom we have the pleasure of seeing today at this historic final session of the United Nations Conference
Now I also wish to thank Mr. Stettinius for his work and efforts directed towards the successful completion of the work of this Conference.