United Nations Charter

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Contents

Full text

Text of the United Nations charter at the United Nations web site.

Highlighs

War outlawed

As the main purpose of the treaty, the scourge of war is dealt with in Chapter 1 as well as in the preamble. Specifically

Article 2, section 3 All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

Article 2, section 4 All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Exceptions

Exceptions for war are made in the case of self-defence or the defence of allied nations.

Article 51 Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The only other exception is action taken by the United Nations itself, through the decisions of the Security Council. In Security Council resolutions the resort to force is made explicit by refering to 'chapter seven' responsibilities and including an explicit phrase like 'use of force'.

Article 42 (in chapter seven) Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Control of UN military forces

Articles 43-49 discuss the nature of the UN forces. There is controversy over whether the Security Council can legaly endorse a coalition of countries to act on its behalf, as happened in the first Iraq war for example, or whether the forces must remain under a UN command, as happened in the Korean war and appears to be the wording of the charter.

Article 46 Plans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

Voting on the Security Council

Another point of controvery is whether a council resolution requires an affirmative vote by all permanent members, or whether one can abstain and still have a resolution passed. Current practise seems to be at odds with the wording.

Article 27, section 3 Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members;

Social and Economic

The commitment to human rights in the charter was not suprisingly, quite vague, talking about "promoting" and "pledging" change. However it is specific about naming issues which the member states have agreed as goals. As with the outlawing of all war, some of these issues are extremely idealistic.

Article 55 higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.

See also

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