The failure of UNO

There is a feeling in writing about the United Nations Organisation that one is digging up the dead and almost forgotten past. It might well be asked in 1959, why it is that UNO does not just pack up and go home? The farce is known for what it is and the legend has long since worn too thin to hang together in any presentable form.

Having served throughout its existence as a sounding-board for the international rivalries of the various capitalist participants and facilitated the mutual mud-slinging contests of the self-styled peace lovers East and West, it is now taken no account of when the major capitalist powers decide to take action in line with their mutually antagonistic interests. There are however a number of valid reasons why as Socialists we are still concerned to write about UNO.

To look back at the origin of UNO and to take stock of its record can be very instructive to all those well-meaning people who still persist in trying to get rid of war while leaving intact the conditions out of which it arises.

UNO began as an alleged means of securing a lasting peace. The 14 nations which came together and made the Declaration of St. James’s Palace in June 1941, went on record as seeking to “look beyond military victory to the postwar future.” They wondered “would we win only to live in dread of yet another war? . . . Is it not possible to shape a better life for all countries and peoples and cut the causes of war at their roots?”

Atlantic Charter
These high and noble sounding sentiments were followed in August of the same year by another series of empty phrases, known as the Atlantic Charter. This charter was the joint brain-child of Messrs. Churchill and Roosevelt. Clause 6 of the aims of the charter, reads as follows:

“After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny [they] hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.”

How far removed this is from the normal insecurity which is the lot of the world working-class! The utter failure of post-war Capitalism to realise the ambition contained in this clause, can be seen by the terrible fear which has hung over the heads of all men in all lands since the war ended.

Clause 8 of the Atlantic Charter, which was upheld and subscribed to in the United Nations declaration reads as follows:

“They believe that all the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained, if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential.”

A moment’s consideration will show what an empty collection of words this is. The nations which since the war have been involved in most “aggression outside their frontiers,” are the big powers, Britain, America, France and Russia, who were the chief supporters of the Atlantic Charter and later of UNO. Exactly who is going to undertake the disarming of these powers is, conveniently, not mentioned.

To suggest to the national ruling classes of the world that they must abandon “the use of force” when their commercial interests are at stake, is asking them to stand aside while their rivals take the lot. Nothing could be more foreign to the nature of capitalism than this.

Dumbarton Oaks
The next step leading to the formation of UNO was the meeting at Dumbarton Oaks. This meeting declared that putting armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council was “a notable improvement” on the League of Nations which had no forces at its disposal. It also entrusted the Security Council to be “responsible for preventing future war.”

This was all during the war, a period of promises and pep-talks. “War to end war” “Make the world safe for democracy” etc. With such words as these ringing in their ears, many millions of workers died.

When the war ended capitalism continued. The same conditions which had already produced two world wars, continued.

How precarious was the whole idea of launching UNO as an instrument of peace can be seen by the statement calling for the San Francisco Conference —”only those State* which had by March 1945 declared war on Germany and Japan were invited to take part.” So the proof of being fit to work for peace, lies in having gone to war!

San Francisco Conference
The San Francisco Conference itself was a very turbulent affair. In fact the Opera House in which it was held had never heard so many discordant voices. Every part of the United Nations Charter needed a two-thirds majority and it is recorded that the crises and clashes were such that some “feared the Conference might adjourn without an agreement.”

Those sincere but misguided people who waste their time and energy in peace demonstrations or anti-H-bomb campaigns would do well to note that the San Francisco Conference was the largest international gathering ever to take place. It had the official backing of 50 governments and represented 80 per cent, of the world population. They declared to be “All determined to set up an organisation which would preserve peace and help build a better world.” There were 850 delegates, counting their staff 3,500, and a further 2,500 observers from the press, radio, news-reels, etc.

Why has it all failed? Why have all the hopes come to naught? Simply because it was founded on a false basis. The supposition of being able to retain capitalism (the cause) and avoid war (the effect).

The United Nations Organisation, after the stormy meetings in San Francisco and the voting of the Charter on 25th June 1945, was born on the 24th October 1945. Its fine phrases and high-sounding aims were rivalled only by its ineffectiveness. Its complete inability to lift a finger without the permission of those capitalist powers whose pet it was.

In June 1950 the United Nations itself went to war in Korea. The vote was seven to one in the Security Council. Now we are informed, The Observer (19-4-59), under the heading “Riddle of the Universe.” “A 21-nation United Nations General Assembly Committee has voted to delay for three years an attempt to define aggression.”

So the farce goes on and Korea is only the largest of many small wars since the last big one. Could the need for workers to consider the case for Socialism be any plainer?

H. B.

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