The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the United Nations (UN). It was signed on June 26, 1945, in San Francisco, and entered into force on October 24, 1945. The Charter established the UN as an international organization and outlined its purposes, principles, structure, and functions.
Key Features of the Charter:
- Purposes: The UN was established to maintain international peace and security, promote friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems, and to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.
- Principles: The Charter is based on the principles of sovereign equality of all member states, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in domestic affairs, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- Membership: The UN is open to all peace-loving states that accept the obligations outlined in the Charter. Initially, there were 51 founding member states, and membership has expanded over the years to encompass almost all recognized sovereign states in the world.
- Structure: The Charter establishes the principal organs of the UN, which include the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council (currently inactive), the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. Each organ has its specific functions and responsibilities.
- Security Council: The Security Council is the most powerful organ of the UN and is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security. It consists of 15 members, including five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms.
- General Assembly: The General Assembly is a representative body consisting of all member states. It serves as a forum for international dialogue, cooperation, and decision-making on various global issues. Each member state has one vote, and decisions on most issues are made by a two-thirds majority.
- Peacekeeping: The Charter grants the UN the authority to deploy peacekeeping forces to resolve conflicts and maintain peace in areas of conflict. Peacekeeping operations are conducted with the consent of the parties involved and are supervised by the Security Council.
- International Court of Justice: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the UN. It settles legal disputes between member states and provides advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and agencies.
The Charter has been amended over the years, but its core principles and structure remain largely intact. It serves as the foundation for international cooperation and provides a framework for addressing global challenges and promoting peace, security, and development.