Founding of the UN: Part III (May 24, 1945)

Bill Sr: 

San Francisco: — The world is a living, growing organism and it is impossible to prevent changes. For the United States to attempt to do so would lead us into another war, and probably on the wrong side. That statement was made by one of the top men associated with the American delegation at an off-the-record meeting, and he indicated that it was recognized by the delegations of the Big Five and doubtless by the representatives of most of the nations attending the Conference. And because it is recognized he believes that provision will be made in the charter to be written here, not only for amendments, but for periodic Constitutional Conventions of the World Organization when the entire Charter would be thoroughly revised in the light of new events.

If this is a fact, and certainly the position held by the speaker gave it great authority, it is one of the most encouraging things that has happened here. He had no doubt whatever that a Charter will be approved at this Conference, not a perfect document, but one which is a good start.

It was recognized from the start, he declared, by the four sponsoring nations that the Dumbarton Oaks Proposal was a cold documenht, lacking soul. This purpose, objective or soul, as he called it, has now been given to the Charter by writing into it such phrases as ‘with due regard for principles of justice and international law’; ‘the solution of international economic, social, cultural and other humanitarian problems and promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, language, religion or sex.

Originally these objectives had been stated only in the section on the Economic and Social Council. It is now agreed among the Big Four and presumably by everyone else, that they shall also go in Chapter One which sets forth the basic objectives of the World Organization. It has also bleen agreed among the Big Five that there shall be a Human Rights Commission, which was one of the recommendations of the Cleveland conference of the Federal Council’s commission on a just and durable peace. This holds out more hope to the little people of the world who, if words mean anything, will be encouraged to work for their own freedom and economic, social and cultural development.

Problems, of course, must not be minimized and I can merely state them briefly:  There is the world court. Some want the old court brought back to life, others a new court. Some want nations compelled to bring their disputes to court and the decisions enforced by the World Organization if necessary. Others want the nations to come to court voluntarily. Progressives want a new court, compulsion and enforcement. But it appears at present that they are losing out.

There is a tangle on trusteeships, with the U.S. army and navy strong enough to force the U.S. delegation to say, through Commander Stassen, that nothing would be done at this Conference which would in any way interfere with the complete defense of the U.S. That means that we are going to hang on to what we consider strategic defense areas, without placing them under the World Organization, and of course if we stick to that position it will force the other nations to do the same thing. In that event the peoples of the world certainly will not be relieved of that ‘crushing burden of armaments’ they were promised in the Atlantic Charter.

On the matter of Regional Organizations it looked for a time as though we were also to play a bad role by insisting that we would run the Western Hemisphere –Monroe Doctrine st;luff–with little regard for the World Organization. Naturally if we play that game — and we may yet when the Charter goes to the U.S. Senate to be ratified — then Britain, France, Russia and everyone else able to do so will do the same and the world will be back in the old rut of power politics and blocs.  However Mr. Stettinius told a press conference on the 14th that the U.S. delegates agreed that the world organization must be paramount, and the following daly agreement was reached on this point with the latin American nations. So at the time of writing (May 21, 1945), I can find no evidence that any delegation places regional security arrangements ahead of World Organization.

Meanwhile keep in mind that the final Charter has to be ratified by governments, including our Senate. That fact, I think, has made some of our delegates take a more conservative position than they otherwise would.