July 9, 1945
New York Times.
MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE:
You have asked me to appear before you as the first witness in your consideration of the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. I am honored to accept your invitation.
One week ago today the President submitted the Charter to the Senate for ratification. May I also formally submit to you on his behalf the report which I made to him as chairman of the United States delegation at the San Francisco Conference. This report deals in detail with the results of the conference and is fully documented. It was prepared quickly because we felt it important that the full and specific information it contains should be made available to the Senate and the public at the earliest possible moment.
I have been informed that the committee desires to begin the hearings by receiving from me an introductory statement summarizing the principal provisions of the Charter, and then to ask me such questions as the members may consider pertinent. I am prepared to make such a statement.
First, however, I wish to make full acknowledgment of the great part taken by members of Congress, and particularly by members of the United States Senate, in making this Charter possible and in framing its provisions.
The Connally and Fulbright resolutions, passed in the fall of 1943 by the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively, expressed the will and purpose of Congress that the United States join with other sovereign nations in establishing as soon as possible an international organization to maintain peace and security.
These resolutions, giving full support to the Moscow Four Nation Declaration, gave renewed impetus to the preparatory work which had been undertaken in the Department of State under the direction of President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull. Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and of the House Foreign Affairs Committee participated in all these preparations.
Their advice was constantly sought and was invaluable. In July, 1944, a United States draft proposal was completed as a result of this work. This draft, together with similar drafts, submitted by the Soviet Union, Great Britain and China, became the basis of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, just as the Dumbarton Oaks proposals themselves became the basis of the Charter.
Half of the United States delegation at the San Francisco Conference was composed of members of Congress. Your chairman, Senator Connally, and his distinguished colleague, Senator Vandenberg, acted as vice chairmen of the delegation. They played outstanding roles in the writing of this Charter. They were leading figures at the United Nations Conference and their contributions to its success did honor to themselves, the Senate and the country.
I wish also to pay high tribute to Congressman Bloom and Congressman Eaton, who represented the House with such distinction, and to the two able and influential public members of the delegation, Dean Gildersleeve and Commander Stassen. Mr. Hull, whom President Roosevelt rightly called "the father of the United Nations," was not present, but we were in daily communication with him and his wise counsel was invaluable. Finally, President Truman, your colleague for so many years, guided our efforts with clear vision and a sure hand. His leadership contributed greatly to our success.
From first to last Congress and the Executive Branch of the Government have worked hand in hand and with no thought of partisanship in this endeavor. The whole American people have also participated directly to an extent never approached before. The Dumbarton Oaks proposals were submitted to their scrutiny, criticism and advice seven months before the San Francisco Conference began, and the results of that public examination are reflected in many of the changes made at San Francisco. Forty-two non-governmental organizations, representing labor, agriculture, industry, the churches, veterans and other groups, were represented by consultants to the United States delegation at the conference. They, too, exercised an important influence in the construction of the Charter.
This Charter is not the work of any single nation. It is the work of fifty nations. But the influence of the United States in the framing of its provisions has been of the utmost importance. I believe that this is due in a very large degree to the close working relationship developed between the Executive and Congress, with direct participation by the public. This has made it possible for all America to speak more surely with a united and compelling voice in international affairs.
The United Nations Charter is both a binding agreement to preserve peace and to advance human progress and a constitutional document creating the international machinery by which nations can cooperate to realize these purposes in fact.
The purposes of the United Nations are the maintenance of international peace and security; the development of friendly relations among nations based on respect for the equal rights and self-determination of peoples; cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural and humanitarian character, and in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
Members of the organization are pledged to carry out in good faith the obligations of the Charter. They are pledged to settle their disputes peacefully in such a way that international peace and security and justice are not endangered; not to use force or the threat of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, to give the organization every assistance in any action it takes under the Charter, and to refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
The organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members. It is not authorized to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state. However, a claim of domestic jurisdiction cannot be used to prevent enforcement measures by the Security Council in dealing with a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression by any future aggressor.
The Charter provides six principal instruments for the realization of its purposes and principles. They are the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat.
The Security Council is both an enforcement agency and an agency to help nations settle their disputes peacefully in such a manner that enforcement measures may be unnecessary.
The General Assembly is a forum for discussion and recommendation on any matter within the scope of the Charter.
The Economic and Social Council is an instrument for the development of those international economic and social conditions essential to lasting peace.
The International Court of Justice is an institution through which the principles of international justice and law may be developed and increasingly applied to relations between countries.
The Trusteeship Council assists in the supervision of an international trusteeship system for some dependent areas.
The Secretariat is the permanent civil service of the United Nations.
The Charter places the major responsibility for the maintenance and enforcement of international peace and security with the Security Council. The Security Council will not meet merely from time to time. The Charter provides that it shall function continuously and that its members shall always be represented at the seat of the organization.
The Council has the duty of helping to bring about by peaceful means the adjustment or settlement of international disputes. These include such methods as conciliation, mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement and resort to regional agencies, as well as any other peaceful means the parties to a dispute may choose. If necessary the Council may itself recommend the terms of settlement, as well as methods of settlement or adjustment.
Should these means fail, it is the duty of the Security Council to take whatever measures are necessary, including diplomatic and economic sanctions and the use of force, to prevent or suppress a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.
All members of the organization are pledged to accept and carry out decisions of the Security Council made in fulfillment of these duties. They undertake to make available to the Council, on its call, armed forces, assistance and facilities in accordance with special agreements which are to be negotiated as soon as possible between the Security Council and the member nations. It is specified that within the limits of these agreements national air force contingents should be immediately available for combined international enforcement action. The Charter provides that these military agreements shall be subject to ratification by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
There will also be a Military Staff Committee consisting of the chiefs of staff of the permanent members of the Security Council or their representatives to advise and assist the Council in its military requirements for the maintenance of international peace, the use of the forces at its disposal and in discharging its responsibilities in connection with the regulation of armaments. Thus the military collaboration of the Great Powers, which has been so important a factor in assuring victory, will be continued and developed for the purpose of insuring peace.
When the military agreements have been made, the Security Council will be ready at all times under these provisions with effective means at its disposal for prompt action against aggression, or a threat of aggression.
The relationship of regional security arrangements to the United Nations Organization is also established by the Charter. Because bitter experience has shown that a breach of the peace anywhere in the world may sooner or later threaten the security of all nations, the supremacy of the Security Council in enforcement measures to prevent aggression is established by the Charter, except as concerns the enemy states of this war.
The Charter contemplates that the United Nations Organization may in time assume the responsibility for standing guard over the enemy states, but this responsibility is left for the present directly in the hands of the nations which have made victory possible in the present war. They will decide when to transfer this responsibility to the organization. The United States is, of course, one of the nations which retains this responsibility.
While no regional enforcement action may be taken without the consent of the Security Council-except against enemy states-the Charter encourages the use of regional arrangements and agencies in the peaceful adjustment of local disputes. It also provides that should an armed attack occur against a member state, the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense may come into play until the Security Council has taken the necessary measures to maintain peace.
These provisions make possible the further development and strengthening of the inter-American system and its integration with the world system in such a way that the Act of Chapultepec can be put on a permanent basis in conformity with the Charter.
The provisions for membership and voting in the Security Council agreed upon at San Francisco were so drawn up as to enable the Security Council to discharge, with the best chance of success, its responsibility for the maintenance of peace with justice.
Five nations are given permanent membership in the Council-the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, China and France. These nations possess most of the industrial and military resources of the world. They will have to bear the principal responsibility for maintaining peace in the foreseeable future. The provisions of membership recognize this inescapable fact.
The five powers do not, however, form a majority of the members of the Council. Six members are elected by the General Assembly from among all the other United Nations. This is the first of several checks and balances provided for in the Charter in order to safeguard the rights of smaller nations.
The voting provisions for the Security Council also recognize the special powers and responsibilities of the great nations. A majority of seven members, which includes all five of the permanent members, is required in any decision by the Council for dealing with a dispute either by peaceful means or by enforcement action, except that a party to a dispute must abstain from voting in the peaceful settlement stage.
There has been a great deal of discussion of these voting provisions and I should like to request permission to place in the record my statement of March 5, 1945, Mr. Grew's statement of March 24 and the interpretive statement by the delegations of the four sponsoring governments on June 7, all of which are on this subject. I think they will prove useful to the committee.
The requirement for unanimity of the five great nations has been criticized because each of them can exercise a veto. I submit that these five nations, possessing most of the world's power to break or preserve peace, must agree and act together if peace is to be maintained, just as they have had to agree and act together in order to make possible a United Nations victory in this war.
The question is asked: What would happen if one of the five permanent members used the unanimity rule to veto enforcement action against itself. The answer is plain. If one of these nations ever embarked upon a course of aggression a major war would result, no matter what the membership and voting provisions of the Security Council might be.
The Charter does not confer any power upon the great nations which they do not already possess in fact. Without the Charter the power of these nations to make or break the peace would still exist. What the Charter does is to place special and binding obligations upon the great nations to use-in unity together for peace, not separately for war-the power that is already in their hands. The unanimity rule is an expression of those special obligations and of their commensurate responsibilities.
With an important exception, the unanimity rule applies to peaceful settlement as well as to enforcement action, because any action toward settling a dispute peacefully may lead to the necessity for enforcement measures. Once the Council orders an investigation or takes a similar action in a dispute, it must be prepared to follow through with whatever further measures, including the use of force, may ultimately be necessary. And this must be clear to the states involved in the dispute. If it were not, the authority and prestige which the Council needs in order to secure peaceful settlements of disputes might be fatally weakened. That is why the five permanent members are required to agree and vote together from the beginning of any dispute on which the Council takes action.
The power of veto does not, however, apply to consideration and discussion of a dispute by the Council before action is taken. Thus the right of any nation to bring a dispute before the Council and to obtain a hearing of its case cannot be blocked. Furthermore, no member of the Council-and this includes the permanent members-can vote in any decision involving peaceful settlement of a dispute to which it is a party. By this provision the five permanent members must submit themselves to the same processes of peaceful adjustment and settlement that apply to any other member nation.
Additional checks are provided against abuse of their voting powers by the five permanent members. Any decision by the Council in either the peaceful settlement or enforcement stage requires at least seven votes. Thus at least two of the smaller nations of the Council must agree with the five permanent members before the Council can take action.
The Charter also provides that the General Assembly, where the five major powers possess no special voting powers, may make recommendations to the Council on any question relating to peace and security not being dealt with by the Council. It provides further that the Council must report at least once a year to the General Assembly on all measures it has taken to maintain peace. These provisions mean that the Council must act under the watchful eye of the whole organization and its members can quickly be held accountable before world opinion if they are derelict in their duty.
There is still another and more compelling reason why the power of veto is not likely to be abused, or even to be exercised at all except in unusual circumstances. That is the compelling desire and need of the five great nations to work together for peace. Twice in thirty years they have been Allies against aggression. Their common interest in preventing another war is fully as urgent as that of any other nation. Under this Charter they assume sacred obligations and heavy responsibilities for the maintenance of peace with justice. They do not assume these obligations and responsibilities lightly. They do so because it is in the vital national interest of each one of them to see that these obligations and responsibilities are fulfilled.
I believe that I speak for the entire United States delegation when I say that the requirement for unanimity among the five permanent members, with the safeguards that have been provided, is not only essential to the success of the United Nations organization in the years immediately ahead but that it recognizes and confirms a power which a majority of Americans believe the United States should have in view of the great responsibilities our country must inevitably assume for the maintenance of world peace.
The special position of the United States and the four other permanent members of the Security Council is also recognized in the provisions for ratification both of the Charter and of later amendments to the Charter.
The Charter itself will come into force when it has been ratified by the five permanent members of the Council and a majority of the other signatory states. Amendments will come into force when they have been adopted by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly or of a special conference called for the purpose and have been ratified by two-thirds of the member states, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.
It should be noted that there is no power of veto over the adoption of amendments. The Security Council does not vote on amendments at all. The power of the veto applies only to their ratification by the nations concerned.
In practice no important amendments to the Charter are likely to be adopted in the near future unless there is unanimous, or virtually unanimous, agreement upon them and ratification is regarded as assured. The General Assembly is not a legislative body. It is an international meeting of the representatives of sovereign nations. The act of voting on an important matter, therefore, is not likely to take place until all the means of adjustment usual in negotiations among nations have been brought to bear in order to reach a common viewpoint. At the San Francisco Conference there was no veto and the two-thirds rule applied. Yet the provisions of the Charter were adopted unanimously.
I feel that much of the criticism of the voting provisions of the Charter arises from failure to remember that the United Nations is neither a federal union nor a world state and that voting procedures among its sovereign member nations cannot necessarily be judged on the same basis as voting procedures in a State Legislature or in the Congress.
As the peoples and Governments gain experience and confidence in world organization in the years ahead I hope that they will learn to apply and adapt to international affairs many more of the principles and techniques of democracy. But I believe it would be fatal to this hope if we were to attempt now to go beyond what the nations are clearly ready to undertake today. The Charter affords full opportunity for later amendments whenever a sufficient majority of the people of the world is ready to go farther.
Just as the existing distribution among nations of the power to maintain peace is recognized in the provisions for the Security Council, so the principle of the sovereign equality of all member states is recognized in the provisions for the General Assembly. In the General Assembly every member nation, large or small, has one vote.
It is the function of the General Assembly to develop in practice those friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, which is declared as one of the objectives of the United Nations.
The General Assembly may discuss and make recommendations either to the Security Council or to the members on any matter within the scope of the Charter. It may call to the attention of the Council any situations likely to endanger the peace and make recommendations on any questions relating to peace and security not being dealt with by the Council. It will receive and consider annual and special reports from the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretary General.
The General Assembly has the further power to recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situations, regardless of origin, likely to impair the general welfare, including situations resulting from violation of the purposes and principles of the organization. This is one of the most important provisions in the Charter for peaceful change and for the correction of injustices present or future.
Because the United Nations is an organization of sovereign states, the General Assembly does not have legislative power. It can recommend, but it cannot impose its recommendations upon the member states. It has, however, virtually all the other powers of a free deliberative body. Senator Vandenberg has justly characterized it as the town meeting of the world. Its authority is sufficient to make it effective as the keeper of the world's conscience and as the watchman over the international behavior of every member of the United Nations and over the other agencies of the organization.
One of the principal purposes of the United Nations is the removal of the economic and social causes of international conflict and war. Responsibility for discharging the functions of the organization in this connection is vested by the Charter in the General Assembly and, under the Assembly's authority, in the Economic and Social Council.
In its chapters on economic and social cooperation the Charter spells out in more detail the economic and social purposes of the United Nations. These include the promotion of higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems, and international cultural and educational cooperation. The Economic and Social Council is also charged, under the General Assembly's authority, with the principal responsibility for promoting universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
The Economic and Social Council will consist of eighteen members elected by the General Assembly.
In the field of its responsibility the Economic and Social Council has the power to make studies, reports and recommendations, to prepare draft conventions for submission to the General Assembly and to call international conferences.
Subject to the General Assembly's approval, it is empowered to make agreements with specialized inter-governmental agencies concerned with international trade and finance, labor, agriculture and other related fields in order to bring them into relationship with the United Nations Organization as a whole and to make recommendations for coordinating their activities. It is then authorized to obtain regular reports from these agencies on their work and on the steps they have taken to give effect to its recommendations or those of the Assembly.
The Economic and Social Council will also set up a commission for the promotion of human rights, commissions in economic and social fields and such other commissions as may be required. The commission on human rights will have the power to prepare an international bill of rights for submission to the member states for approval.
Like the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council has no power to impose its recommendations on the member states. But, as I reported to the President, this "power to study and report and recommend-and the power to call conferences and prepare draft conventions and require reports of progress-is a power which can be counted on to go a long way towards translating humanitarian aspirations into human gains."
In the next ten or fifteen years, the work of the Economic and Social Council and its related agencies in helping to restore a shattered world and to achieve better living conditions for all peoples will be of paramount importance. If the United Nations cooperate effectively toward these ends they will have gone far toward eliminating in advance the causes of another world war a generation hence. If they fail, there will be instead widespread depressions and economic warfare which would fatally undermine the world organization. No provisions that can be written into the Charter will enable the Security Council to make the world secure from war if men and women have no security in their homes and in their jobs.
The fourth major instrument of international cooperation for which the Charter provides is the International Court of Justice. The Court provides the means by which international disputes of a legal character can be settled "in conformity with the principles of justice and international law," as stated in the purposes of the United Nations. The Charter states the general rule that such disputes should be referred to the International Court. The statute of the International Court, which is annexed to the Charter, does not provide for compulsory jurisdiction. It does, however, include an optional clause under which members of the United Nations may agree in advance to submit all their justiciable disputes to the Court for settlement.
The Charter provides that whenever disputes are referred to the Court its decisions shall be binding on the parties and that any member of the United Nations, party to such a dispute, must comply with the decisions of the Court. If it fails to do so the matter may be brought to the attention of the Security Council for appropriate action.
The International Court will also have a most important part to play in the further development and strengthening of international law, just as the courts of England and America have helped to form the common law. The Court will be the subject of separate testimony before this committee by Mr. Green Hackworth, legal adviser of the Department of State, and our member of the committee on the Court at San Francisco.
In addition to these four over-all instruments of international action the Charter includes a declaration of principles and purposes regarding all non-self-governing territories and provides for an international Trusteeship System under which some of these territories may be placed by later agreement.
In the general declaration the member nations accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost the well-being of the inhabitants of all dependent territories over which they have responsibility. They are pledged to insure the political, economic, social and educational advancement of such peoples and to assist them in the "progressive development of their free political institutions." They are pledged to develop self-government for all dependent peoples.
I wish to emphasize that this pledge includes the right to independence for those peoples who aspire to it and are able to exercise its responsibilities. That was the view of the United-States delegation, and the Committee on Trusteeship at San Francisco unanimously concurred in that interpretation.
This declaration of international obligations regarding all dependent peoples is the first of its character in the history of international relations. No similar obligations were assumed under the Covenant of the League of Nations, which provided only for a mandate system applicable to territories and colonies detached from Germany and Turkey after the last war.
The international Trusteeship System of the present Charter will apply to such territories as may be placed under it by later agreements among the states directly concerned. The Charter itself does not place any territories under trusteeship. The trusteeship agreements may apply to territories now held under mandate, territories taken from enemy states as a result of the present war, and other territories voluntarily placed under the system.
The objectives of the trusteeship system include the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the dependent peoples concerned and their development toward self-government or independence, together with encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. These provisions constitute another long step forward from the League of Nations mandate system.
A Trusteeship Council is created to assist the General Assembly in carrying out the functions of the United Nations with regard to trusteeship agreements for all areas not designated as strategic. Membership in the Trusteeship Council will be divided equally between those United Nations administering trust territories and those which do not, but it must include the five permanent members of the Security Council. Annual reports for each non-strategic trust territory must be made to the General Assembly on the basis of a questionnaire prepared by the Trusteeship Council.
Strategic areas may be designated in trusteeship agreements and in these areas all functions of the organizations are to be exercised by the Security Council, with the assistance of the Trusteeship Council.
Both the War and Navy Departments participated fully in framing the trusteeship provisions of the Charter. Furthermore, both departments have certified that they are of the opinion that the military and strategic implications of the Charter as a whole are in accord with the security interests of the United States.
No commitment is made to place any particular area, strategic or nonstrategic, under the trusteeship system. The Charter thus leaves for future determination to what extent and under what terms islands in the Pacific which are taken from Japan at the end of the present war are to be, placed under the trusteeship system. Any agreement into which the United States might enter to this end would have to be on terms satisfactory to us.
The Charter names the secretariat as one of the six principal organs of the United Nations together with the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice and the Trusteeship Council. The Secretary General is appointed by the General Assembly upon recommendation of the Security Council and is the chief administrative officer of the organization. The charter provides that the Secretary General and the staff of the International Secretariat "shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority and shall be responsible only to the organization so that they may be international civil servants."
These, gentlemen-in summary-are the main provisions of the United Nations Charter. In my report to the President you will find a much fuller exposition. The Charter is not, of course, a perfect instrument. I am sure it will be improved with time as the United Nations gain experience in its application. But I believe it offers to the United States and to the world a truly effective instrument for lasting peace.
The purposes and principles of the Charter are those in which the great majority of the human race believe. The principal agencies which it will create-the agency for law enforcement, the public meeting, the court of justice and the center for economic and social progress-are those which all self-governing peoples have developed and learned to use in their own affairs. The powers given to these instruments in the international field are those with which the most thorough possible consideration has shown the nations are now ready to endow them.
In short, the course which is charted by this document is one which I believe to be within the capacity of the nations at this period of world history to follow and it is a course which leads in the direction of our highest aspirations for human advancement in a world at peace.
I believe our experience at San Francisco offered a convincing demonstration that this Charter can be made to work. Much has been written about the disagreements at San Francisco. Actually, the area of agreement was always vastly wider than the area of disagreement. Attention was naturally directed to the differences among us because neither the five Major Powers, nor the committees of the conference, took up their time on all those matters about which they were already in agreement. What was significant about the conference was this-the differences were resolved and a Charter for a strong and effective organization was unanimously adopted. I believe the five Major nations proved at San Francisco beyond the shadow of any doubt that they can work successfully and in unity with each other and with the other United Nations under this Charter.
In that firm belief I have come to testify before you today in favor of ratification of the Charter by the Senate of the United States. No country has a greater stake than ours in a speedy beginning upon the task of realizing in fact the promise which the United Nations Charter offers to the world.