Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice

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The Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice – the foundational document of the UN – was adopted on June 26, 1945. It was signed by representatives of 50 of the 51 original UN Member States, including India, at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, USA.  The Charter came into effect on October 24, 1945.

Conceptualised during the post-war negotiations in early 1940, the Charter was adopted to ensure international cooperation, peace and security in the aftermath of World War II. Its Preamble states that the United Nations aims “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.” To this end, it calls upon Member States to practice tolerance and live in peace; to unite and ‘maintain international peace and security’; to ensure that armed forces shall not be used except in common interest; and to promote economic and social advancement for all.

The 54-page Charter consists of a Preamble followed by 19 Chapters listing 111 Articles. It also contains the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as an annexure – the Charter establishes the ICJ as the principal judicial organ of the UN.

The Charter’s 19 chapters outline the UN’s purposes and principles (Chapter I, Articles 1-2); define conditions for membership (Chapter II, Articles 3-6); introduce its various organs (Chapter III, Articles 7-8); and lay down the scope and functions of the UN General Assembly (Chapter IV, Articles 9-22) as well as the UN Security Council (Chapter V, Articles 23-32). Chapters VI-VIII (Articles 33-54) consider threats to international peace and discuss the establishment of regional agencies for the settlement of disputes.

The document discusses economic and social cooperation, delineating the scope and functions of the Economic and Social Council of the UN (Chapters IX-X, Articles 55-72). It covers the powers and responsibilities of the UN Trusteeship Council to promote self-government and socioeconomic advancement in ‘non-self-governing territories’ (Chapters XI-XIII, Articles 73-91); outlines the functions of the ICJ (Chapters XIV, Articles 92-96) and UN Secretariat (Chapter XV, Articles 97-101); includes miscellaneous provisions (Chapter XVI, Articles 102-105); lays down transitional security arrangements (Chapter XVII, Articles 106-107); and discusses the procedures for the Charter’s ratification (Chapter XIX, Articles 110-111).

The following are excerpts from 16 of the 111 Articles of the Charter of the United Nations which remain especially relevant to the present times:

Article 93: All Members of the United Nations are ipso facto parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

Article 1: The Purposes of the United Nations are: To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.

Article 2: 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.

Article 6: A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

Article 23: The Security Council shall consist of eleven members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect six other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council, due regard being specially paid, in the first instance to the contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization, and also to equitable geographical distribution. [This Article was amended in December 1963, expanding the Security Council’s membership from 11 to 15 countries, and increasing the number of non-permanent Members from six to 10.]

Article 33: The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

Article 41: The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed forces are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42: 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.

Article 43: All Members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.

Article 45: In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action.

Article 50: If preventative or enforcement measures against any state are taken by the Security Council, any other state, whether a Member of the United Nations or not, which finds itself confronted with special economic problems arising from the carrying out of those measures shall have the right to consult the Security Council with regard to a solution to those problems.

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 Nation, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

Article 52: Nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.

Article 55: The United Nations shall promote: higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions to 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.

Article 62: The Economic and Social Council may make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and related matters and may make recommendations with respect to any such matters to the General Assembly, to the Members of the United Nations, and to the specialized agencies concerned.

Article 92: The International Court of Justice shall be the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

Focus by Swadesha Sharma.

AUTHOR

United Nations

COPYRIGHT

United Nations

PUBLICATION DATE

26 Jun, 1945

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