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The United Nations To-Day and To-Morrow

-- Published for the United Nations Information Organisation, 1945.

CHAPTER ONE: Who are the United Nations?

THE UNITED NATIONS are an association of independent and sovereign peoples and governments, brought together by a common aim: to overcome the greatest threat in history to their individual freedom as nations and to the freedom of all mankind.

Thus, principally, the United Nations are a fighting team. But, beyond victory on the battlefronts of to day, the United Nations have a second great aim: to preserve the peace they are now fighting to win, and to solve problems such as those which led to the present war and the one that began in 1914. Thus, in the long view, the United Nations are also a working team, for the purpose of developing a more stable world, organised for the maintenance of peace and security.

Because victory over the Axis nations must be attained before all the more far reaching problems of peace can be dealt with, the basic United Nations team consists of those actually at war. In the early stages this fighting team, though not then known as the United Nations, consisted of only a few nations; as the war developed and involved new lands, the number grew.

The United Nations are, however, actively supported by a number of other nations who have associated themselves with members in some of the common work, such as the improvement of the world's food supplies and provision for relief and rehabilitation after the war.

26 United Nations Sign the Declaration

The formal birth of the United Nations was the adoption in Washington, D.C., on January I, 1942, of the "Declaration by United Nations." Twenty six governments signed the declaration and, having subscribed to a common programme of purposes and principles embodied in the Atlantic Charter (see Chapter 5), pledged themselves to employ their full military and economic resources against all common enemies, in cooperation with the other United Nations, and not to conclude separate peace or armistice agreements.

The 26 nations which then signed this pact were:

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic El Salvador
New Zealand
South Africa

Representatives of two other countries are generally added to thus first list of the United Nations, for they have been fighting in the common team against the common enemies. They are:


In the case of France, because the. fight has been carried on by the French authorities reconstituted in London and later in Algiers, that country has, from the early days, been regarded as one of the United Nations. Her Provisional Government, now established in liberated Paris, has subsequently received full recognition, and on January 1, 1945, the Provisional Government signed the United Nations Declaration.

In the case of Denmark, her King and Government having been held under duress in the homeland, the Danish Minister in Washington signified the adherence of all Danes in the free world to the common cause. Since January, 1942, the following other countries have adhered to the Declaration on the dates indicated and have thus become members of the United Nations team:

Mexico..................................... June 5, 1942
The Philippines.......June 10, 1942
Ethiopia............July 28, 1942
Iraq.............January 16, 1943
Brazil.............February 8, 1943
Bolivia .............April 27, 1943
Iran.............September 10, 1943
Colombia........December 22, 1943
Liberia .........February 26, 1944

This brought the number of signatories of the Declaration to 36 and the total of the United Nations fighting team to 37.

Eight other countries have broken off relations with the aggressor powers and co operate with the United Nations in some of their work.

They are:


Thus in June, 1944, the United Nations team together with the co operating nations numbered 45 nations in all.

The Strength of the United Nations

One of the most fantastic facts of the 20th century is that so many countries, constituting 82 per cent of the world's population and controlling the vast preponderance of the world's resources, should have found themselves, many for the second time in one generation, in danger of loss of liberty and all that mankind holds sacred. This situation was due to the actions of three countries: Germany, which had also been the offender in the First World War, Japan and Italy.

It is indeed extraordinary that the victorious Allies of 1918, especially the great democracies, allowed a beaten Germany to rise again to power and to bring them, in the summer of 1940, to the brink of a catastrophic defeat. However, this lack of foresight and determination need not be a source of discouragement for the future, provided that the lessons of past experience are well and truly learned. Democratic nations, and it is to their credit, find it hard to believe that certain nations are capable of planning aggression or even world domination, as was the case with the Axis Powers, above all Germany and Japan.

The democratic nations had to learn the hard way, and the lesson they learned is twofold: on the one hand that their combined might, when developed to the full, can overcome any powers on earth; and on the other hand that the only way to prevent a recurrence of such tragedies is for the democratic nations to stand together in peace as they have in war.

When war broke out, the bulk of the land and of the natural and industrial resources of the United Nations was devoted to turning out peace time goods. Unlike tire Axis nations, who had been systematically diverting their own powerful production towards rearmament, many of the United Nations had no large and organised arms and munitions industry in operation. Most of them had to start converting their peace time factories into armament plants almost overnight; for many of them the danger approached too fast, and they were overrun before they succeeded in making the change.

But with the heroic defence of the British Isles against Germany in 1940-41, with the epic stand of the U.S.S.R. in the winter of 1941 42, and with the entry of the United States into the war at the end of 1941, the picture was changing. Slowly at first, then more rapidly, as more and more of the United Nations were able to turn their efforts towards production for war, they began to catch up with the aggressor powers and soon surpassed them in output. Full use was made of the increased production through the development of Mutual Aid.

The Allies' Strength Lies in the People

But it should never be forgotten that however vast their industries and resources, it is the peoples who are in fact the United Nations and who give the United Nations their real strength, the peoples who make up the armies of the United Nations, who sail their ships, work in their factories and mines, and till their fields and meadows.

Altogether the United Nations today comprises about 1,500 million men, women and children-nearly three fourths of all the inhabitants of the earth. They include men of every colour and race, of every level of cultural and economic development. They speak hundreds perhaps thousands of different languages and dialects. The population of a single one of the United Nations, the U.S.S.R., uses nearly 200 languages, dialects, and scripts.

The peoples of the United Nations belong to a great number of different religions and creeds. Yet all are joined in the common determination laid down in the Declaration by United Nations to achieve "complete victory over their enemies...and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as other lands...against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world..."

Psychologically as well as industrially, the peoples of the United Nations were generally unprepared and untrained for war when it came. Unlike the inhabitants of the aggressor countries, the majority of whom had been trained for war from childhood, they had grown up in the hope that the world would avoid war and that they themselves would be able to live out their lives peacefully in the pursuit of their personal and national welfare. But as the peoples of the United Nations converted their industries and agricultural production, so they converted themselves.

Now, the land, sea and air forces of the United Nations far outnumber those of the Axis. On dozens of battlefields all around the world in Europe, Asia and Africa, from the Solomons and New Guinea, to China, Russia, North Africa, Italy and all parts of Europe millions of soldiers of the United Nations have met and are now meeting the test and have proved themselves, man for man, the equal of, if not better than, Axis troops trained for war all their lives. And behind them stand millions more, ready to take the field.

It is these tens of millions of fighting men, and the hundreds of millions of workers, farmers and business men who stand behind and supply them, who are the spearhead of the United Nations as a fighting team. Their task is to accomplish the first of the aims of the United Nations and all their associates: victory in the field.

After victory will come the second task, the task which the United Nations have undertaken as a working team: to achieve "a continuing peace wherein all men may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want." They can bring to that task 1,500 million men, women and children, of every race, creed and colour the greatest team ever assembled in the history of mankind.


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