Address Before the Senate Urging Ratification of the Charter of the United Nations
Mr. President--it has been a long time since I have said "Mr. President" in this Chamber, and my how I miss it!--and Members of the Senate of the United States:
It is good of you to let me come back among you. You know, I am sure, how much that means to one who served so recently in this Chamber with you.
You also remember how I was tied down in the last three months I was here. I couldn't speak, except to rule on the parliamentary questions; and two or three times I was ruled out of order because I would make a speech on parliamentary questions.
I have just brought down from the White House, and have delivered to your Presiding Officer the Charter of the United Nations. It was signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945--6 days ago-by the representatives of 50 nations. The Statute of the International Court of Justice is annexed to the Charter.
I am appearing to ask for the ratification of the Charter, and the Statute annexed thereto, in accordance with the Constitution.
The Charter which I bring you has been written in the name of "We, the peoples of the United Nations." Those peoples--stretching all over the face of the earth--will watch our action here with great concern and high hope. For they look to this body of elected representatives of the people of the United States to take the lead in approving the Charter and the Statute and pointing the way for the rest of the world.
This Charter and the principles upon which it is based are not new to the United States Senate or to the House of Representatives.
Over a year and a half ago the Senate, after thorough debate, adopted the Connally resolution, which contained the essence of this Charter. It called for--and I quote from the Connally Resolution, "a general international organization based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states, and open to membership by all such states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security." That is the end of the quotation from the Connally Resolution. What I am now presenting to the Senate carries out completely this expression of national and international necessity.
Shortly before that, the House of Representatives passed the Fulbright resolution, also favoring the creation of international machinery with participation by the United States.
You and the House of Representatives thus had a hand in shaping the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, upon which the Charter has been based.
No international document has been drawn in a greater glare of publicity than has this one. It has been the subject of public comment for months. This widespread discussion has created the impression in some quarters that there were many points of disagreement among the United Nations in drafting this Charter. Naturally, much more public attention was given to the items of disagreement than to the items of agreement. You know, if you want to get a headline, you want to fall out with some of your friends, and you will always get it. The fact is that there were comparatively few points upon which there was not accord from the very beginning. Disagreement was reduced to a minimum-and related more to methods than to principle.
Whatever differences there were, were finally settled. They were settled by the traditional democratic method of free exchange of opinions and points of view.
I shall not attempt here to go into the various provisions of the Charter. They have been so thoroughly discussed that I am sure you are all familiar with them. And they will be so thoroughly discussed on this floor that you and the people of the nation will all have a complete expression of views. I am sure of that.
In your deliberations, I hope you will consider not only the words of the Charter but also the spirit which gives it meaning and life.
The objectives of this Charter are clear.
It seeks to prevent future wars.
It seeks to settle international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the principles of justice.
It seeks to promote worldwide progress and better standards of living.
It seeks to achieve universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all men and women--without distinction as to race, language, or religion.
It seeks to remove the economic and social causes of international conflict and unrest.
It is the product of many hands and many influences. It comes from the reality of experience in a world where one generation has failed twice to keep the peace. The lessons of that experience have been written into this document.
The choice before the Senate is now clear. The choice is not between this Charter and something else. It is between this Charter and no Charter at all.
Improvements will come in the future as the United Nations gain experience with the machinery and methods which they have set up. For this is not a static treaty. It can be improved--and, as the years go by, it will be--just as our own Constitution has been improved.
This Charter points down the only road to enduring peace. There is no other. Let us not hesitate to join hands with the peace-loving peoples of the earth and start down that road, with God's help, and with firm resolve that we can and will reach our goal.
I urge ratification. I urge prompt ratification.
Note: The President spoke at 1 p.m. in the Senate Chamber.
The Charter of the United Nations together with the Statute of the International Court of Justice is printed in the U.S. Statutes at Large (59 Stat. 1031). It was approved by the Senate on July 28, 1945, and after ratification entered into force on October 24, 1945.
Harry S. Truman, Address Before the Senate Urging Ratification of the Charter of the United Nations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232493