The Making of the United Nations - Developments leading to the san francisco conference

1. The Inter-Allied Declaration (London Declaration) of 12 June 1941. In a dark hour of World War II, representatives of the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa and of the governments-in-exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Yugoslavia assembled at St. James's Palace in London. It was there that each pledged not to sign a separate peace document and declared: "The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security…. " Tendays later, Hitler launched his attack against the Soviet Union.

2. The Atlantic Charter of 14 August 1941. British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt met aboard the cruiser USS Atlanta off the coast of Newfoundland and signed a declaration giving the first indication that the two powers would strive for the creation of a new world organization once peace was restored. In it, they announced "certain common principles … of their respective countries … for a better future for the world: the need for a secure peace; the abandonment by all nations of the use of force; the disarmament of aggressors; and the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security."

3. The Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942. With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and the entry of the US into the war, the conflict assumed even wider dimensions. Japan's initial successes were staggering, and it was clear that the coalition against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, Japan, and their allies) would need to be strengthened.

On New Year's Day 1942 in Washington, DC, representatives of 26 states signed a declaration whose preamble called for subscription "to a common program of purposes and principles embodied in the … Atlantic Charter" and explicitly referred to the need for promoting respect for human rights on an international basis. In that declaration, the phrase "united nations" was first used. It had been coined by President Roosevelt to express the unity of the signatory nations in their determination to withstand the onslaught of the Axis powers. The declaration was subsequently signed by the governments of 21 additional states.

4. The Moscow Declaration of 30 October 1943. This declaration laid the foundation for the establishment of a new world body to replace the League of Nations. Meeting at a time when victory seemed in sight, the US, British, and Soviet foreign ministers and an ambassador from China drew up the Declaration of Four Nations on General Security, which recognized "the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization based on the principle of sovereign equality of all peace-loving States, and open to membership by all such States, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security."

5. Dumbarton Oaks Conference, Washington, 21 August–7 October 1944. The Dumbarton Oaks conference was the first big-power meeting convoked specifically to discuss the establishment of a new world organization. At the beginning of the conference, the delegations offered widely differing proposals. On some of these divergent views they eventually reached agreement. For example, the British and Soviet delegations accepted an American position that favored a strong role for the General Assembly, in which all member states would be represented and which, therefore, would be the most "democratic" of the UN organs. There was agreement that a small Security Council should be "primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security" and that the big powers should have the right of veto in that body. However, a deadlock developed over a Soviet proposal that a big power might exercise this right in disputes in which it was itself involved. This the US and the British refused to accept.

6. Yalta Conference, February 1945. The resultant deadlock was resolved at a meeting in Yalta attended by Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt, and Marshal Stalin. The "Yalta formula," actually a compromise proposed by the US and rejected by the USSR at Dumbarton Oaks, provided that if any of the Big Five powers was involved in a dispute, it would not have the right to veto Security Council recommendations for peaceful settlement of the issue but would be able to veto a Security Council decision to invoke sanctions against it. After some initial objections from Churchill, the three leaders at Yalta also managed to agree on the basic principles of a trusteeship system for the administration of certain dependent territories under the aegis of the projected world body.

On 11 February 1945, the three leaders announced that a conference would be convened in San Francisco on 25 April 1945 for the "earliest possible establishment of a general international organization" along the lines proposed at Dumbarton Oaks.

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