San Francisco Conference of 1945
San Francisco Conference of 1945
from Apr. 25 to June 26, 1945, the conference of the 50 founding members of the United Nations.
The USSR, the United States, Great Britain, and China convoked the San Francisco Conference to draft a final text of the UN Charter, as had been agreed at the Yalta Conference of 1945. Invitations were initially sent to the governments of the 42 countries that had signed the Declaration by United Nations of Jan. 1, 1942, or that had endorsed the declaration and declared war against the countries of the fascist bloc. The invited countries were Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, France, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the Union of South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia.
On Apr. 30, 1945, the conference extended invitations to the governments of the Byelorussian SSR and the Ukrainian SSR and—over the objections of the USSR—to the government of Argentina, which had pursued a policy hostile to the United Nations, declaring war on Germany only on Mar. 27, 1945. On June 5, 1945, an invitation was also sent to the government of Denmark. Because of the Western powers’ hostility toward the Polish government, Poland was not invited to the conference. However, on June 23, 1945, at the insistence of the USSR, the conference decided to leave room in the UN Charter for the signature of the representatives of Poland. Thus Poland became one of the founding members of the UN.
The San Francisco Conference devoted most of its attention to defining the aims and principles of the UN and the structure and powers of its principal organs. The proposals agreed to at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference of 1944 were accepted as the basis for the draft of the UN Charter, but the San Francisco Conference altered and expanded the proposals.
The conference proceeded amid sharp controversy, especially over the rights of the Security Council, the voting procedure in the Security Council, colonies and dependencies, and the purposes of international trusteeship. Some countries, especially the Latin American countries, wished to subordinate the USSR and its allies to a hostile numerical majority and give the General Assembly the same rights as the Security Council. Other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands, opposed the principle of unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council in deciding all political questions. These efforts did not succeed owing to the firm position of the USSR. The principle of unanimity was confirmed.
The San Francisco Conference included in the UN Charter a declaration on the principles by which colonies and dependencies should be treated. All the countries at the conference agreed that mandated territories should be included in the international trusteeship system. The Soviet delegation proposed that one of the basic aims of trusteeship should be to prepare these territories—through the active involvement of their peoples—for self-government, self-determination, and full independence. This proposal encountered objections on the part of the Western powers and was approved only in attenuated form.
The conference founded the International Court of Justice, whose statute is an integral part of the UN Charter.
After long debates, the UN Charter was finally adopted. The formal signing was on June 26, 1945. On Oct. 24, 1945, after ratification by all the permanent members of the Security Council and most of the other signatory states, the UN Charter went into effect. Since then, October 24 has been celebrated each year as United Nations Day.
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