June 28, 1945
New York Times.
A few hours before the Senator from Michigan, Mr. Vandenberg, and I were to leave for San Francisco, I made a statement in the Senate respecting our mission to the United Nations Conference on international organization for peace and security. I expressed the fervent hope that we should be able to participate in the drafting of a charter subscribed to by the participating governments and carrying the hopes of mankind for world peace.
It is now my happy privilege to announce to the Senate that we have brought back to the President a comprehensive charter which we trust will meet the approval of the Senate and the people of the United States as well as the people of all of the United Nations whose representatives were assembled at San Francisco.
It is my confident belief that with ratification by the United States Senate the Charter will be overwhelmingly approved by the United Nations.
It is not my purpose today to launch upon a formal presentation of the document to the Senate or to take part in extended debate. It is rather my purpose to advise the Senate that the labors of the United Nations conference at San Francisco have been concluded and that the terms of the Charter will soon be before the Senate for its formal action.
From the dawn of modern civilization eminent men have in vain advanced plans to eliminate the scourge of war. Great thinkers like Dante, Grotius, William Penn, Rousseau, Bentham and Kant have risen to magnificent heights to formulate charters, which, in their own times, might have been effective designs for world peace.
But these plans came to naught because man lacked the imagination and the daring necessary to put them into practical effect.
In 1919 the Covenant of the League of Nations was submitted to the United States Senate. It did not receive the sanction of this body. The noble conception of that towering leader, President Woodrow Wilson, was, however, rejected. His exalted vision, his heroic efforts toward world peace and his eloquent speeches in its behalf will remain indelibly inscribed on the annals of the centuries.
Now we are confronted with another great opportunity. This time, however, the charter was not struck off by the brain of a single individual. This time the charter was conceived in the best tradition of American democracy. It has been discussed for many months throughout the length and breadth of the land. Now, finally, it has emerged in its completed form from the deliberative efforts of the representatives of fifty nations met in solemn conclave.
It is believed by numerous observers that the failure of the United States to ratify the League of Nations covenant enfeebled it and rendered it impotent from the beginning. Without the prestige and influence of the United States, powerful in war and powerful in peace, to many the league seemed doomed to failure from its inception.
The League performed many useful acts. It composed many disputes and disagreements among the nations. It encouraged and stimulated international cooperation. Yet, on the whole, its power became weakened, not alone because of defects in its structure, but because member nations failed to utilize its opportunities. Its existence, however, was not without value to the people of the world. Its experience, its weaknesses, and even its failures have served to light the way for the organization which we are now endeavoring to establish.
The United States of America has a high and solemn responsibility with respect to the new world organization. Franklin D. Roosevelt, our late beloved and lamented President, led the way in creating the cohesive spirit of harmony and unity which has characterized the United Nations' battle for freedom against the Axis powers. And it was President Roosevelt who early conceived the plan of transforming this spirit of unity and cooperation into a positive, dynamic force for world peace and security.
The Atlantic Charter, the United Nations Declaration, the Moscow Declaration, and the conferences at Cairo, Teheran and the Crimea, together constituted a magnificent background for the calling of the conference at Dumbarton Oaks and the conference at San Francisco. These documents and the results of these conferences express the hopes and expectations of the United Nations. They reflect the noble purpose and high objectives which we have in mind. Our gallant fighting men are on the battlefields of the world today to establish and maintain these principles.
The San Francisco Conference was in session for a period of nine weeks. Those historic days were crowded with detailed and meticulous consideration in twelve committees and four commissions of the conference with the text of Dumbarton Oaks and proposals to change its terms. Literally hundreds of amendments, presented by large and small states alike, were carefully examined in relation to the experiences under the League of Nations and the powers and functions of the new organization.
When it is remembered that fifty nations with varying historical backgrounds, speaking many tongues and representing divergent views with respect to international problems. sat in the conference, it is a remarkable tribute to the common ideals of the United Nations that final and unanimous agreement upon the entire document was achieved. The overwhelming desire to create an international organization for peace and security overcame such differences as arose and they were adjusted in a spirit of conciliation and concord and unity toward the lofty objectives of the conference.
I am confident that the American people overwhelmingly support the new Charter. During the course of our deliberations thousands upon thousands of letters and telegrams poured into San Francisco demanding the effective collaboration of the United States in a world organization strong enough to keep the peace.
These letters and telegrams came from every corner of these United States-from business and professional men-farmers, labor organizations, church groups, educators, young people in their teens yes, and from mothers and fathers whose boys have poured out their blood on foreign soil in order that civilization may survive. They came from men in the armed services who are facing the embattled enemy-from men who know the miseries and sufferings of war and desire that their sons and their country may be spared its horrors.
Any doubt that may have existed as to the attitude of the people of the United States toward international cooperation to prevent war has long since been dispelled by the resolutions passed by both the House and the Senate and by the declarations embodied in the platforms of both the Republican and Democratic parties. They reflect the widespread sentiments of our people.
The-United States delegation also received inspiration and assistance from our advisers and consultants in San Francisco. The consultants represented the interests of some fifty of our great national organizations-groups like the American Bar Association, the League of Women Voters, the service clubs, farm and labor organizations, and the Federal Council of Churches. The consultants not only kept us in close touch with public opinion, they also advanced a number of excellent ideas, some of which were later incorporated in the Charter.
The international organization which the Charter establishes will include a General Assembly of all member nations, in which the smallest and the weakest State will have equal power and authority with the mightiest and strongest.
The Assembly will constitute a democratic forum in which freedom of debate is practically unlimited and in which all of the matters within the scope of the Charter or relating to any of its organs may receive the scrutiny and the discussion of the member States. It will form a world forum for the discussion of matters whatever their origin that may relate to international peace and security.
Here will be hammered out on the anvil of debate the problems that may confront the organization throughout its career. Here will be formed a mighty public opinion which shall exert a tremendous influence upon the solution of all questions that relate to international peace and security. Here may be formulated recommendations to the Security Council and to the member States.
It was necessary that the executive power of the world organizations should be vested in a relatively small, powerful body with authority to act speedily and decisively whenever aggression raises its ugly head.
The Security Council will fulfill that function. It is endowed with wide authority in the settlement of international disputes. It will consist of five permanent members representing the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China and France. Six non-permanent members will be elected by the Assembly to serve for terms of two years.
It will be noted that while the Great Powers have five permanent seats on the Council, a majority of six non-permanent members will be elected by the Assembly. When it is remembered that the population of the five permanent members is greater than that of all the remaining nations signatory to the Charter, it will be perceived that a well-maintained balance is provided.
The Security Council may receive and consider a complaint by any member or a non-member in respect to an international dispute. Under the Charter it may freely discuss and consider any such dispute. Upon this point there was for a considerable time sharp difference of opinion, but it was finally resolved in behalf of the freedom of discussion and consideration. However, with a single exception, any action of an affirmative or positive character by the Security Council requires a majority of seven votes, including the concurring votes of the five permanent members.
The Security Council has very wide powers with respect to recommending to the parties to a dispute its adjustment through peaceable measures, by negotiation, diplomacy, judicial procedure, conciliation or arbitration. It may also suggest the particular procedure which should be adopted to compose the quarrel.
The Security Council may decide what measures short of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication and the severance of diplomatic relations.. The pressure and power of such measures and the consequent formation of a concentrated world opinion will exert a compelling influence toward settlement of the dispute.
If measures for peaceful settlement fail the Security Council may impose military sanctions. Should the Security Council consider that measures above mentioned would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such measures may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea or land forces of members of the United Nations.
In order to provide necessary naval and military forces, the Charter prescribes that there shall be established a Military Staff Committee under the control and direction of the Security Council.
The Military Staff Committee, consisting of the chiefs of staff of the five permanent members of the Council, shall, under the direction and control of the Council, initiate the negotiation of agreements between the various nations of the organization, or between groups of the nations and the organization, for supplying contingents of armed forces to be used in emergency. It is expressly stipulated that provision shall be made for the maintenance by members of the organization of air contingents which may be readily employable m case of emergency.
It was felt to be necessary that the Security Council should have wide authority with the ability to act speedily and effectively. Here lies one of the essential differences between the old League of Nations and the new world organization. The present Charter proposes to combine might and right through an authority strong enough to keep the peace. The League of Nations could recommend, it could propose, it could suggest, but it was unable to take effective action to stamp out aggression.
One issue that was vigorously contested was the so-called "veto" in the Security Council. The provision that in all cases except procedural matters, the Security Council should act by vote of at least seven members, including all five of the permanent members, aroused substantial opposition. However, after long and thorough debate and consideration, it was determined that this provision should be maintained. This voting procedure is much more liberal than that which obtained in the League of Nations. There complete unanimity of all members of the Council on all important questions was required. Even the weakest members of the League Council could veto any action proposed.
At the historic meeting in the Crimea, President Roosevelt proposed what has become known as the Yalta voting formula for the Security Council. It was approved at that conference and at San Francisco was embodied in the Dumbarton Oaks text which was the basis for discussion and deliberation. The United States delegation consistently and continuously supported the formula until its final adoption. The vision and courage of President Roosevelt were justified and vindicated.
The basic thesis of the rule of unanimity of the five permanent members of the Security Council is that so long as the Great Powers remain united, they shall be able to preserve the peace of the world. If the Great Powers should be divided-if discord should arise they could not successfully preserve international peace. So long as the Great Powers possessing ample material resources and military and naval might, are charged solemnly by the Charter with the high responsibility of preserving the peace of the world and remain conscious of their high duties and obligations, peace can be preserved.
It must be borne in mind that the existence of the veto does not mean that it will be used frequently. In all likelihood, it will be seldom employed. It is not believed that it will be exercised capriciously or arbitrarily. A recalcitrant member of the Security Council would be faced with the opinions of four other permanent members and perhaps six non-permanent members. The pressure of their views would create a compelling world opinion that would make it very difficult for a single member of the Security Council alone to veto the peaceful settlement of a dispute.
I am aware of criticism leveled at the rule of unanimity. It must be remembered that the United States itself will be a permanent member of the Security Council. Our country will have the right to exercise the veto whenever in our opinion it is wise and just to do so. Our armies and navies cannot be sent into a foreign war without the consent of the United States.
The veto is something which we of the Senate must examine and approach with great candor. An effort may be made to lead our people to believe that the veto is in the Charter wholly because of our Allies-that they alone demanded it. Were the veto not in the Charter, what would some of the critics say? Would they not use the argument that American troops could be committed to combat in foreign lands without the consent of the American people? We must recognize that the Yalta formula not only gives the other Great Powers a veto over military action; it gives the United States of America that same veto.
The United Nations Charter is based on the fundamental assumption that in the shrinking world in which we live world peace is indivisible. We all realize, however, that under certain circumstances it may prove desirable to have disputes of a regional or local character settled by regional peace machinery. The Charter makes ample provision for such regional arrangements to function under the general supervision of the Security Council. Thus the groundwork is laid so that the Act of Chapultepec and our inter-American peace machinery in general can be properly integrated into the over-all world organization. Neither the effectiveness of the inter-American system nor the authority of the United Nations organization will be impaired.
While I have dwelt at some length on the Security Council, I desire to make it clear that we should not place all our emphasis on the security functions of the new organization. For no matter how carefully we built the machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes, we cannot ignore constructive steps to consider the social and economic causes of war.
To that end the Charter provides for an Economic and Social Council which is authorized to set up a number of commissions to aid in the solution of international social, economic, cultural and humanitarian problems and to promote regard for human rights and fundamental freedom.
In their respective fields the commissions will initiate studies and make reports. They may also make recommendations in respect to such matters to the General Assembly and to the member states. Neither the commissions nor the Economic and Social Council will have any authority or power to impose upon any State any regulation or provision whatsoever. The final choice and decision in respect to all such recommendations will remain with each individual State.
The old mandates system under the League of Nations has been abandoned and a system of trusteeships created. Distinction is made between territories within strategic areas and those in non-strategic areas. It is also provided that the welfare of the dependent peoples in such areas shall be taken into account and measures adopted, looking to their improvement and ultimate self-government.
Great care was exercised in protecting the interests of the United States in territories from which our savage enemies were expelled at the cost of so many lives of our gallant and intrepid soldiers and sailors. It was our earnest endeavor to safeguard and protect the security and vital defense of the United States and world peace.
The International Court of Justice constitutes the fifth great arm or agency of the new organization. Whereas the Security Council is primarily designed to handle political disputes, the Court will be called upon to adjust differences of a legal or justiciable nature. The new Court is patterned closely after the old Permanent Court of International Justice which functioned so satisfactorily during the two decades prior to the outbreak of World War II.
Jurisdiction will be optional on the part of any party to a dispute. On the other hand, where disputes are referred to the Court or where a state accepts the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court in certain categories of cases, its decisions are, of course, binding upon the parties.
The American people have traditionally stood for the great ideal involved in the settlement of disputes according to the principles of law and justice. They will, I am sure, wholeheartedly approve the new Court as a vital and essential part of the world organization. The statute of the Court has already received wide approval among the members of the American bar.
The United Nations organization must be allowed to grow and develop. It must possess sufficient flexibility to meet the changing needs of the times.
The Charter wisely contains provisions for the submission and adoption of amendments to the Charter and for the calling of a constitutional conference for its general review.
Any modification of the present Charter recommended by a two-thirds vote of the conference shall take effect when ratified in accordance with their respective constitutional processes by two-thirds of the members of the organization, including all the permanent members of the Security Council. There can be no valid claim that we are becoming a member of an organization which may assume new and unforeseen powers binding upon us without our consent.
At San Francisco there was splendid unity and harmony within the United States delegation. On all matters the delegation voted as a unit.
Hon. Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., Secretary of State and head of the United States delegation, was elected president of the conference and presided with much distinction and efficiency. His leadership and management were outstanding and he deserves high credit and praise for the masterly manner in which he led the United States delegation and in which he directed the affairs of the entire conference.
Secretary Hull, who was designated as senior adviser, unfortunately could not attend the sessions at San Francisco. We sorely missed him. Over the years he has rendered heroic service in the cause of peace. He aided in drawing the Dumbarton Oaks document and it was a source of real and abiding regret on the part of the United States delegation that he was unable because of illness to take part in our deliberations. However, his counsel and advice were often conveyed by telephone to the great benefit of the delegation.
Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, a high-ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, worked diligently as a member of the subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee which conferred frequently with Secretary Hull in laying the foundations of a world organization for peace. He supported heartily the resolution calling for international cooperation adopted by the Senate in 1943 by a vote of 85-5.
At San Francisco Senator Vandenberg contributed his great abilities to the success of the conference. The freedom of debate secured to the General Assembly was achieved through his labors. He was influential and forceful in securing the provisions establishing regional arrangements. He gave to the general work of the conference his large experience in public affairs and in the field of foreign relations. He deserves the thanks of his countrymen for his fine and valuable service.
Representative Sol Bloom, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, discharged his duties with fine ability and zeal. His extensive service and experience in parliamentary processes contributed substantially to the work of the conference. On the committees and commissions dealing with the General Assembly and trusteeships, he rendered signal service.
Representative Charles A. Eaton, ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, approached his duties in a fine spirit and a lofty view. He gave unsparingly of his wisdom and experience in the work of the conference. He gave particular attention to the committee dealing with the general provisions of the Charter. They related to the amendment, withdrawal processes, the International Secretariat and the other principal organs of the United Nations Organization.
Comdr. Harold Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota and on leave from the Navy, gave generously of his splendid abilities. The provisions relating to trusteeships were primarily shaped and fashioned through his efforts. With industry and energy he gave attention to many parts of the Charter. He made valuable suggestions and contributions to the work of the conference and is entitled to much praise and credit for his achievements.
Dean Virginia Gildersleeve of Barnard College brought to her work at the conference a veritable wealth of experience in the field of economic and social activity. She rendered outstanding service with regard to the Social and Economic Council and in connection with the preamble to the Charter. She made a distinct contribution to the conference and the women of the United States have just cause for pride in her accomplishments.
Our delegation leaned heavily on the experience and wisdom of our former great colleague and leader, President Harry Truman, who so recently assumed the heavy responsibilities of the Presidency. Though the conference was held at the time when he was laboring with huge new problems that confronted him, his breadth of vision and his keen insight into world problems were a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. His superb leadership guided us in our deliberations. Not a day passed but that the delegation conferred with President Truman by telephone.
The scope of agreement reached at San Francisco has been remarkable, notwithstanding divergent views and earnest attachment to differing concepts, final and complete agreement was reached on the entire Charter. This was true because all of the fifty nations at San Francisco aspired to the same sublime goal which called the conference into being.
Its adoption marks an epochal period in international affairs. It creates an agency of tremendous influence and power. The future course of history may be affected by its conduct and by its heroic efforts in behalf of peace. However, it creates no super-state. The rights and powers of individual States are not impaired, except to the extent of the obligations and duties which they voluntarily assume when they sign the Charter.
Its strength rests upon cooperation and a community of interest in providing collective security. A heavy responsibility rests upon every member of the organization not only to use its own powers and efforts to promote the interests of the organization, but it assumes a duty to further the purposes and principles of the organization. This sense of responsibility, this compelling duty, will generate a desire for peace. A will to live on terms of amity with the other peoples of the earth.
While the completed Charter reflects the united opinion of the peace-loving nations of the earth, I do not proclaim it as embodying perfection. It could not be expected that fifty nations could agree upon a document whose every line and paragraph and phrase would meet universal approval. However, the Charter marks a beginning. It will grow and develop in the light of experience and according to the needs of nations under international law and justice and freedom.
These principles are embodied in the Charter in luminous and moving words. The Charter must be judged-not in its dissected parts-not in its dismembered and mutilated clauses and phrases, but it must be judged as an integrated body, complete in its organs and functions. Judged by that standard, it is a monumental performance.
Mere documents and language and phrases cannot themselves prevent war and preserve peace. They must rest upon the will and the purpose and the desires of the peoples and nations of the world. Organization, however, promotes these objectives. It stimulates and quickens high purposes by the knowledge that others share those ends. Enlightened and compelling world opinion in behalf of law and justice and freedom and peace will give life and vigor to documents and charters.
The Charter cannot have vitality-it cannot breathe-it cannot act, until ratified by the Senate of the United States. The fate of the Charter rests here in the Senate. No treaty can attain the force of law for our people untie it passes the scrutiny and receives the sanction of this body. When it votes, it votes by authority of the people. Its action is not the individual action of each member. Its action is that of the entire citizenship of the republic.
President Truman will soon submit the treaty to the Senate and urge its early ratification. It is my earnest hope that the Senate in its wisdom, with a high purpose to preserve the peace, not only our own peace but the peace of the world, and a desire to serve all humankind will give its speedy approval to the Charter and thus give it impulse among the other nations of the earth.
Early ratification here will stimulate and encourage ratification by other nations. The eyes of the entire world are centered on what we do here. Foreign nations know that the United Nations organization for peace and security will face failure and futility unless the United States is a member. We face a high and solemn responsibility. The fate of world peace may depend upon our decision.
Senators who object to international cooperation will vote "no." Those who prefer that we go alone will reject the Charter. It is my sincere belief that those who believe in cooperation with other nations in an effort to avert the horrors and miseries of war, to suppress aggression and conquest, and to enthrone the rule of law and reason and justice in international relations will vote to ratify the treaty.
While we never lose sight of the supreme objective of world peace and security, we do not neglect our national interests. The rights and sovereignty of the United States are not imperiled. We must remember, however, that world peace will cost something. It is worth something. It will cost cooperation. It will cost the will to peace. The Charter is not automatic. It must be supported. It will cost our constant efforts and influence in the cause of peace.
Twice in the span of a lifetime the world has been cursed by global wars -millions of lives of the gallant and the brave have been sacrificed upon red and blazing battlefields or have been engulfed in the ocean's depths-other millions have suffered privations, and hardships and starvation. Countless children have been orphaned-misery and suffering have reached out into many lands.
Some of the fairest regions of the earth have been devastated. Unnumbered homes have been laid in ashes-billions of wealth have been destroyed-the tragic war in which we are now engaged has spread its horrors to distant parts of the earth. There have been more marching men than composed the combined armies of Alexander, and Hannibal, and Caesar, and Genghis Khan, and Napoleon, and all of the gory conquerors of the past.
We have crushed Nazi Germany at a terrible cost in blood and treasure. Our heroic fighting men are now carrying victory over our brutal and savage enemy-Japan. Complete triumph is assured. Our banners shall wave over Tokyo. Such another world tragedy must not occur again. Our sons must not be sacrificed upon an altar of blood. War must be prevented before it breaks upon us in its bloody fury. Aggressors must be chained. The monster with a sword must be dethroned. The methods of peace must be enthroned.
War can be prevented by international cooperation. In the Charter we have endeavored to construct the mechanism to create that cooperation for peace. The fifty nations who have signed the United Nations Charter have pledged their honor to promote the cause of peace and to support the organization. The General Assembly is an open arena for discussion and the formation of world opinion with power to make recommendations. The Security Council is a compact and powerful body charged with the duty of first invoking judicial and other peaceable measures in the settlement of disputes.
Finally, it is invested with authority, if necessary, to preserve or restore international peace, to impose economic or military sanctions. The Charter is the best document that the wisdom of the peace-loving nations of the world could devise. It is a noble beginning. It offers the world's best hope to outlaw war and to ordain peace. May the United States Senate approve and bless it.
The United States has been singularly blessed by a generous Providence. Rich in material resources which have been marvelously developed by a free and enterprising people, living under the institutions of liberty, and possessing tremendous naval and military power, she stands in the forefront of the nations of the earth.
But our strength does not lie alone in material things. Our power in the world does not depend alone upon the might of our armies and navies. Moral and mental and spiritual resources may influence and direct the course of human history. In these fields we have achieved mightily.
For one hundred and fifty years our Constitution and its institutions of freedom and democracy have quickened aspirations for liberty wherever men have hungered for freedom. In international affairs, we have never followed the course of aggression or conquest. We assured Cuba her freedom. The Philippines are witnesses to their independence. We came out of World War I with no added territory, guiltless of indemnities and reparations.
With such a noble heritage, the United States has a supreme destiny. We have the opportunity to lead the nations of the earth away from the cruel wager of battle into the ways of peace. The United States must employ its tremendous national power to lead and cooperate with other nations to curb aggressors and to crush and overwhelm savage attacks upon peaceful peoples.
May the Senate proceed with ratification immediately. The United Nations have fought as comrades in the mightiest war in the long and bloody annals of the centuries. Our manpower and material resources have been marshaled upon the land, and in the air and on the sea until our banners have waved in triumph.
The central idea of the Charter is that the comradeship of war must be carried forward in a comradeship of peace. If we have been able to fight side by side in killing and destroying, why shall we not league together to save millions of human lives and permit the peoples of the earth to rebuild their tortured lands and to recreate wasted wealth and shattered homes.
We leagued our armed might for war. Now let us league our moral and material might for peace.
The United States will not reject the clear and challenging call to this high duty. Let us rise to our lofty destiny. Let us be among the architects of a structure more marvelous than one built of steel and stone. Let us create a temple of law and reason and justice and peace to serve the peoples of the world.
The World Charter for peace is knocking at the doors of the Senate. We shall not turn it away.
There come ringing down through a century and a half the inspired words of Washington at the Constitutional Convention of 1787:
"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hands of God."