Preamble to Charter of the United Nations
We The Peoples of the United Nations Determine
- To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which
twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
- To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity
and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and
women and of nations large and small, and
- To establish conditions under which justice and respect for
the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international
law can be maintained, and
- To promote social progress and better standards of life in larger
And For These Ends
- To practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another
as good neighbours, and
- To unite our strength to maintain international peace and security,
- To ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution
of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common
- To employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic
and social advancement of all peoples,
Have Resolved to Combine Our Efforts To Accomplish
Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives
assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their
full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the
present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an
international organization to be known as the United Nations.
There is no quick and easy way to understand the
UN system. It was formed by the victorious nations in 1945 in a
bold attempt to create an international set of institutions which
could help keep the peace, prevent depression and promote development
for all, promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms,
the rule of law, democracy, and equality between men and women.
It was never meant to supplant national or local governments but
to deal with problems that go beyond national borders. Only the
Security Council can enforce the decisions of its members, and it
is sometimes paralyzed because of the lack of agreement. Binding
Treaties, found in Conventions, provide the next level of authority
but there are no enforcement mechanisms. They depend for their influence
on the moral pressure from peers and public pressure from the NGOs
and occasionally through the media. This type of pressure is unreliable
but can still be significant in "pushing the envelope"
of awareness and commitment, or the reverse, in building cynicism
and negativism towards the work of the UN.
The original 50 members now number 189 and the problems and international
agencies to deal with them have responded in number and complexity.
In parallel to the family of UN agencies, the Bretton Woods Institutions
(BWIs), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World and Regional
Banks, and since 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO), have
developed to deal with the issues of trade, investment and finance.
A growing problem today is how these two sets of institutions relate
and the problems of securing policy coherence among them.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like the International and
National Councils of Women are playing an increasing role in scrutinizing
all these international bodies, in proposing improvements, and in
influencing public opinion. While not elected to represent an electorate,
they nonetheless provide an important voice for people who are too
often not heard, and can achieve remarkable unity of purpose when
they share values and common understandings of "how the world
works" or "could work". By the same token, they may
find reaching consensus as difficult as the governments do when
their values and notions of "how the world works" differ.