Important United Nations Documents

Charter of the United Nations

The United Nations Charter was signed on June 26, 1945 and has been the framework of international peace and Security. Although many of the founding principles can be found in the Covenant of the League of Nations, it was not until the end of World War II that the global community could agree on a way forward.

Covenant of the League of Nations

The League of Nations was first considered before the First World War, however, the decision to make it possible came after the devastation of the war.  Initial drafts of the League of Nations called for a standing army overseen by the League, and a far-reaching policy of international intervention.  The League would require all states to enter into arbitration before violating the territorial integrity of another state.  While the League had considerable support, it is believed that the refusal of the United States Senate to ratify the treaty made it ineffectual.  Despite President Woodrow Wilson’s best efforts, the League was disbanded in 1946, never having had the United States a member.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As it was being drafted, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was colloquially know as the Bill of Human Rights.  It was designed to establish fundamental human rights, a concept not yet accepted as of 1948.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

After the horrors of World War II, there was an outcry to establish an international norm for punishing the systematic destruction a population.  While crimes against humanity had long been violations of international law, there was not an agreed upon definition, nor was there any framework for enforcement.  Under the steady pressure of a man named Raphael Lemkin, the so-called Genocide Convention finally came into force in 1951.