Chapters :
  • International Organizations – 01

International Organizations – 02

The League of Nations was approved, and in the summer of 1919 Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations to the US Senate which refused to consent to the ratification.

On 10 January 1920, the League of Nations formally came into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, took effect. 

The League Council acted as a type of executive body directing the Assembly’s business. It began with four permanent members – Great BritainFranceItaly, and Japan. Although the United States never joined the League, the country did support its economic and social missions through the work of private philanthropies and by sending representatives to committees.

After some successes and some failures during the 1920s, the League proved ineffective in the 1930s. It failed to act against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria as in February 1933. Forty nations voted for Japan to withdraw from Manchuria but Japan voted against it and walked out of the League instead of withdrawing from Manchuria.

It also failed against the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, despite trying to talk to Benito Mussolini, but he used the time to send an army to Africa. The League had a plan for Mussolini to just take a part of Ethiopia, but he ignored the League and invaded Ethiopia. The League tried putting sanctions on Italy, but Italy had already conquered Ethiopia and the League had failed.

 After Italy conquered Ethiopia, Italy and other nations left the league. But all of them realized that it had failed and they began to re-arm as fast as possible.

During 1938, Britain and France tried negotiating directly with Hitler but this failed in 1939 when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. When war broke out in 1939, the League closed down and its headquarters in Geneva, which remained empty throughout the war.

Declarations by the Allies of World War II

The first specific step towards the establishment of the United Nations was the Inter-Allied conference that led to the Declaration of St James’s Palace on 12 June 1941.

By August 1941, American President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had drafted the Atlantic Charter to define goals for the post-war world.

At the subsequent meeting of the Inter-Allied Council in London on 24 September 1941, the eight governments in exile of countries under Axis occupation, together with the Soviet Union and representatives of the Free French Forces, unanimously adopted adherence to the common principles of policy set forth by Britain and United States.

President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill met at the White House in December 1941 for the Arcadia Conference. Roosevelt coined the term United Nations to describe the Allied countries.

 He suggested it as an alternative to “Associated Powers”, which the U.S. used in World War I (the U.S. was never formally a member of the Allies of World War I but entered the war in 1917 as a self-styled “Associated Power”).

The British Prime Minister accepted it, noting its use by Lord Byron in the poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

 The text of the Declaration by United Nations was drafted on 29 December 1941, by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins.

It incorporated Soviet suggestions but included no role for France. One major change from the Atlantic Charter was the addition of a provision for religious freedom, which Stalin approved after Roosevelt insisted.

Roosevelt’s idea of the “Four Powers”, referring to the four major Allied countries, the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and Republic of China, emerged in the Declaration by United Nations.

 On New Year’s Day 1942, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Maxim Litvinov, of the USSR, and T. V. Soong, of China, signed the “Declaration of The United Nations”, and the next day the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures. During the war, “the United Nations” became the official term for the Allies.

 To join, countries had to sign the Declaration and declare war on the Axis powers.[25] By 1 March 1945, 21 additional states had signed the Declaration by United Nations.

Roosevelt’s envoy Wendell Willkie played a key role in promoting the idea of the United States joining the new organization, publishing One World (book) in April 1943. In September 1943, 81 percent of Americans – up from 63 percent in February – supported joining a “union of nations” after the war.

 The October 1943 Moscow Conference resulted in the Moscow Declarations, including the Four Power Declaration on General Security which aimed for the creation “at the earliest possible date of a general international organization”.

This was the first public announcement that a new international organization was being contemplated to replace the League of Nations. The Tehran Conference followed shortly afterwards at which Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met and discussed the idea of a post-war international organization.

Founding

The UN in 1945: founding members in light blue, protectorates and territories of the founding members in dark blue

The new international organization was formulated and negotiated among the delegations from the Allied Big Four at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference from 21 September to 7 October 1944. Representatives from the United States and the United Kingdom met first with those from the Soviet Union and, in the following week, with representatives from the Republic of China.

They agreed on proposals for the aims, structure and functioning of the new international organization. It took the conference at Yalta, plus further negotiations with Moscow, before all the issues were resolved.

After months of planning, the UN Conference on International Organization opened in San Francisco, 25 April 1945, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations.

 The four sponsoring countries invited other nations to take part and the heads of the delegations of the four chaired the plenary meetings.

 Winston Churchill urged Roosevelt to restore France to its status of a major Power after the liberation of Paris in August 1944. The drafting of the Charter of the United Nations was completing over the following two months; it was signed on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries. The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, upon ratification of the Charter by the five permanent members of the Security Council the US, the UK, France, the Soviet Union and the Republic of China—and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.

The first meetings of the General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council took place in London beginning in January 1946.

 Debates began at once, covering topical issues such as the presence of Russian troops in Iranian Azerbaijan, British forces in Greece and within days the first veto was cast.

The General Assembly selected New York City as the site for the headquarters of the UN, construction began on 14 September 1948 and the facility was completed on 9 October 1952. Its site like UN headquarters buildings in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi is designated as international territory.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Trygve Lie, was elected as the first UN Secretary-General.

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