United Nations Conference on International Organization (1945 : San Francisco, Calif.)

Alternative names
Chinese, Multiple languages, English, German, French, Russian, Spanish; Castilian

History notes:

Founding conference of the United Nations.

From the description of United Nations Conference on International Organization proceedings, 1945. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754868789

At this conference, held April 25, 1945 to June 25, 1945, delegates approved the Charter of the United Nations, the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and arrangements for the establishment of the United Nations Preparatory Commission.

From the description of Records, 1944-1945. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155485590

Historical Note

The United Nations Conference on International Organization was convened in San Francisco from 25 April to 26 June 1945. Fifty nations participated in the conference at the invitation of the four sponsoring governments, the United States, the United Kingdom, the USSR, and China. The four sponsors invited to the conference those nations that had entered into a state of war against one or more of the Axis powers and that adhered to the Declaration by United Nations of January 1, 1942. Forty-two nations accepted the invitation, and after the conference began, Argentina, Denmark, the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic were admitted. Poland was not present, but space on the Charter was reserved for the signature of a representative of Poland. The U.S. government paid the expenses of the conference, which were less than 2 million dollars.

More than 3,500 conference delegates and staff members assembled in San Francisco for the conference. Thirty hotels and three clubs provided housing and offices, while the Veterans Building and the Opera House were used for the conference's central activities. More than 2,500 representatives of the press, radio, and newsreels covered the conference.

The conference considered four areas, consisting of the Dumbarton Oaks plan, suggested amendments to the plan, a draft addition to the plan providing for a trusteeship system for dependent areas, and preliminary studies on the creation of an International Court of Justice.

The conference began with eight plenary sessions held in public. At these opening sessions, the chairmen of the delegations of the sponsoring powers, followed by the chairmen of the other delegations, addressed the conference. During this time the conference's organization and work plan were determined. The charter was divided into four sections for consideration by four commissions, which in turn divided the work among multiple technical committees. The commissions and technical committees began their assignments as the opening sessions wrapped up. As the technical committees completed their work they submitted reports to the commissions, which pulled them together into commission reports, which were submitted to the Coordination Committee, which prepared the text of the charter as a whole.

The Charter of the United Nations, together with the Statute of the International Court of Justice, was presented and adopted unanimously at the ninth plenary session on 25 June 1945. A signing ceremony was on June 26 and lasted all day. Afterwards a closing session was held, with speeches by the president of the United States, the chairmen of the delegations of the sponsoring powers, and chairmen of five other delegations--Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa--chosen to represent the diversity of nationalities and geographic areas. The charter entered into force, in accordance with its Article 110, paragraph 3, on 24 October 1945, following the deposit of the instruments of ratification of the five permanent members of the Security Council and a majority of all other signatories.

Five official languages--Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish--were recognized at the conference, but only English and French were used as working languages and all documents were issued in both. More than one hundred people translated documents and interpreted discussions. Speeches made in English were interpreted into French and vice versa, and speeches in other languages were interpreted into English and French.

In terms of administrative organization, the Conference in Plenary Session was the highest authority at the conference. It was responsible for final votes and adopting the text of the charter. The senior members of the delegations of the four sponsoring governments presided in rotation over the plenary sessions.

Four general committees were established under the plenary level. In recognition of the host country, the conference asked the chairman of the U.S. delegation to chair the Steering and Executive Committees.

The Steering Committee considered major questions of policy and procedure and distributed work to the committees. The committee had fifty members, consisting of the chairman of each national delegation.

The Executive Committee was a smaller unit that made recommendations to the Steering Committee; it was composed of the chairmen of fourteen delegations. These fourteen represented the four sponsoring governments and the ten co-elected members.

The Coordination Committee assisted the Executive Committee and supervised the final drafting of the charter. It was composed of representatives of the fourteen delegations previously mentioned. An Advisory Committee of Jurists provided assistance to this committee.

The Credentials Committee verified the credentials of delegates and was composed of representatives from six delegations.

Below the committee level, four general commissions studied the main issues and coordinated the work of twelve technical committees. The technical committees drafted proposals and could designate subcommittees as needed. The leadership of the commissions and technical committees consisted of a chairman and a rapporteur; these positions were divided among all of the national delegations. The Steering Committee nominated delegates for these positions, with approval by the conference.

Commission I studied general provisions and managed the work of Technical Committee 1 (preamble, purposes and principles) and Technical Committee 2 (membership, amendment and secretariat).

Commission II focused on the general assembly. It coordinated the work of Technical Committee 1 (structure and procedures), Technical Committee 2 (political and security functions), Technical Committee 3 (economic and social cooperation) and Technical Committee 4 (trusteeship system).

Commission III considered the security council. It oversaw the work of Technical Committee 1 (structure and procedures), Technical Committee 2 (peaceful settlement), Technical Committee 3 (enforcement arrangements) and Technical Committee 4 (regional arrangements).

Commission IV studied judicial organization. Its committees were Technical Committee 1 (international court of justice) and Technical Committee 2 (legal problems).

A Secretariat provided general administration to the conference. It prepared agenda and working papers for discussion, compiled minutes and records of meetings, and provided the array of standard services required by any international conference.

More than five thousand documents were considered at the conference; the primary ones were published as Documents of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, Volumes I to XX, 1945-1954.

From the guide to the United Nations Conference on International Organization Proceedings, 1945, (Hoover Institution Archives)


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  • International courts
  • International cooperation
  • International cooperation--Congresses


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