Foreign Relations Subcommittee: “… to achieve Universal Peace and Justice, the present Charter of the UN should be Changed to Provide a true World Government Constitution.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee introduces Senate Concurrent Resolution #66 which begins:

“Whereas, in order to achieve universal peace and justice, the present Charter of the United Nations should be changed to provide a true world government constitution.”

Editorial Note from US Dept. of the State Office of the Historian:

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The United Nations; The Western Hemisphere, Volume II

In late 1949 the Department of State became increasingly concerned with a number of resolutions that had been introduced in the Congress, which proposed various schemes looking toward world government at the most, or a union of the countries of the North Atlantic Basin (Atlantic Union), or at the least revision of the Charter of the United Nations to rid the Organization of such problems as those posed by the unanimity rule in Security Council voting (the veto). These proposals reflected a definite impatience if not disillusionment with the United Nations on the part of influential sections of the American public. Late in the 1949 session of the Congress [Page 4](81st Congress, 1st Session), a subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate was established under the chairmanship of Senator Elbert D. Thomas, to consider the various resolutions. The hearings of this subcommittee were held February 2–20, 1950; and are printed in 81st Congress, 2d Session, Revision of the United Nations Charter, Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1950) (hereafter cited as Hearings).
These resolutions included the following: Senate Concurrent Resolution 52 (the Thomas–Douglas or “Article 51” resolution), Senate Concurrent Resolution 56 (the Tobey or “World Federalist” resolution), Senate Resolution 133 (the Sparkman resolution or the “ABC proposal”), Senate Concurrent Resolution 57 (the Kefauver or “Atlantic Union” resolution), Senate Concurrent Resolution 66 (the Taylor or “World Constitution” resolution), Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 (the Fulbright–Thomas or “European Federation” resolution), and Senate Concurrent Resolution 72 (the Ferguson resolution). The texts of these resolutions are printed in Hearings, pages 2 and 3, 73, 171 and 172, 227 and 228, 317, 344, and 347 and 348, respectively.
Though opposed to all of the resolutions except Senate Concurrent Resolution 72, the Department of State took the position that the resolutions were the legislative expression of a great national debate, not just on United States foreign policy but also on American constitutional organization (national sovereignty) itself. The occasion was seized by the Executive to reaffirm in the strongest terms the centrality of the United Nations in the theory and practice of United States foreign policy. This State Department position was set forth to the subcommittee on February 15, 1950, by two ranking officers of the Department, Dean Rusk, Deputy Under Secretary of State for policy matters, and John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs.
Rusk’s approach was general and rather philosophical. The subcommittee was “rendering a notable public service by its careful and thorough examination of these questions.” (Hearings, page 379) The Department of State considered it “significant” that none of the resolutions before the subcommittee proposed United States withdrawal from its new international responsibilities. “We take that to mean that the people of this country have reached a basic understanding that the fate of this Nation is interwoven with events beyond our borders and that our safety, liberty, and well-being require us to act as a part of the world about us.” (ibid., page 379) Repeatedly, in his long statement to the subcommittee (ibid., pages 377–414, passim), [Page 5]Rusk stressed that the United Nations was and should remain at the center of United States foreign policy:

“When we turn to the United Nations and its Charter we are conscious of the dominant role which support for the United Nations has played in our foreign policy … the purposes and principles written into the Charter of the United Nations are, in essence, a summary of the foreign policy of the American people. We should not underestimate the importance of the fact that these principles, so congenial to us, have been subscribed to by 58 other governments.… This world-wide acceptance of principles which are central to our own foreign policy is a tremendous asset which the United States must carefully nourish.… It should also be noted that the Charter is our basic over-all agreement with the Soviet Union. It was negotiated in detail with great care.… It contained provisions which, if loyally carried out, would insure the peace.… We do not need another over-all agreement; we need performance on the ones we already have.… We must strongly support the United Nations as an indispensable organization of the entire world community and attempt to build there the world solidarity which will cause each member to recognize that loyalty to the Charter is an expression of realistic self-interest.…” (ibid., pages 384, 385, 405 and 406)

Hickerson’s task was to address each resolution specifically, when that resolution was being considered by the subcommittee, in terms of the Department of State position with regard to that resolution, a position of opposition in every case except Senate Concurrent Resolution 72. In general terms, the resolutions were opposed because they entailed revision of the United Nations Charter or a fundamental change in the constitutional relationships of the Organization. Mr. Hickerson warned:

“… We believe that we should proceed very cautiously … lest action be taken which might weaken or jeopardize a going concern [the United Nations] in the illusory hope of getting something better.… We cannot afford to risk jeopardizing or losing what we have without some real assurance that we are getting something better in its place. Proposals for world government must be considered in that light. Their proponents have a burden to show specifically that what they propose offers a better chance of attaining our objectives and has a real chance of general acceptance.…” (Hearings, pages 414 and 415, and 429)

The Department of State supported Senate Concurrent Resolution 72 precisely because it did not involve any revision of the Charter or altering of the United Nations’ constitutional relationships; and because it did involve utilizing what was already at hand, or strengthening it. In this connection, Mr. Hickerson stated:

“In this resolution the Congress reaffirms its faith in the United Nations as the cornerstone of the international policy of the United [Page 6]States. It provides that the President be advised that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should cooperate with other governments for the strengthening of the United Nations, by interpretation of the Charter, by action taken or usages developed under the Charter, by supplementary agreements among nations who desire thus to further the purposes of the Charter, or ultimately, if necessary, by amendment of the Charter.
“This is in accord with Senate Resolution 239, passed by the Senate on June 11, 1948, by a vote of 64 to 4 [the so-called Vandenberg Resolution; see Foreign Relations, 1948, volume III, page 135]. It is in accord with the President’s inaugural address [the Truman Inaugural Address of January 20, 1949]. It is in accord with the policy the Department has been pursuing in its efforts to develop international security on the broadest possible basis.
“Some of the steps specified in the resolution could be put into effect right now. Others would require a great deal of sustained effort and negotiations with the United Nations. Most of them, in my view, are useful steps whose true importance become clear if we recall in our minds our fundamental objective of working together for a better international community, and if we keep in mind the assumption that the United Nations is in an evolutionary stage, a necessary prerequisite for a better organized community.…” (Hearings, page 463)

On September 1, 1950, the full Committee on Foreign Relations submitted to the Senate a Report on the matter, printed in 81st Congress, 2nd Session, United States Senate, Report No. 2501, Revision of the United Nations Charter (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1950). This document includes a helpful résumé of United Nations affairs, 1945–1950, and the impact of the East-West conflict thereon; and a summary and analysis of the several resolutions with principal arguments for and against each resolution. (A useful summary of the position of the Department of State is found on pages 47–49 of the Report.) The Committee declined to support any of the pending resolutions or to report out a resolution of its own.

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