By Kimberly Richter, UN Foundation Public Affairs Summer 2017 Intern
On June 26, 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed – a historic moment in global history. Out of the ashes of World War II, countries came together to form an organization to serve as a platform for cooperation, dialogue, and shared action for peace. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said, “Peace, justice, human dignity, tolerance, and solidarity are enshrined in the Charter and bind us together.”
Here are six facts about the groundbreaking document that guides the UN.
The UN Charter opens with the words, “We the Peoples of the United Nations.” These words put people at the center of the UN.
The Charter was signed in San Francisco. The location of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, where the document was signed, reminded nations that World War II was fought on two fronts – Europe and the Pacific.
The Charter has 50 original signatories. Today, the UN has grown to include 193 Member States.
Poland is considered an original signatory, despite being absent at the conference. At the time of the signing, there was no recognized Polish government. As such, a blank was left in the declaration for the country to sign later that year when the composition of the government had been confirmed.
The Charter was ratified on October 24, 1945. With this step, the UN formally came into existence.
The Charter outlined six convening bodies. These bodies include the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice. The UN Trusteeship Council was formally the sixth organ, established to “provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.” By 1994, these territories had gained independence or self-government, and the Trusteeship Council suspended operations.
At the closing of the final session of the conference in San Francisco, U.S. President Harry Truman addressed the conference, saying:
“The Charter of the United Nations which you have just signed is a solid structure upon which we can build a better world. History will honor you for it. Between the victory in Europe and the final victory, in this most destructive of all wars, you have won a victory against war itself. … With this Charter the world can begin to look forward to the time when all worthy human beings may be permitted to live decently as free people.”
On UN Charter Day, let’s recommit to working toward the values enriched in this document, which belongs to all people.
Learn more at un.org.
[Photo: UN Photo/Yould]