As discussed in our previous video, the world
needed a new international organization to replace the League of Nations and the allies
had their ideas on how this new structure would function. Those who fought against Hitler
were now working towards different ideological and political goals, and the creation of the
United Nations became another stage of the diplomatic conflict, as the USSR had its own
agenda. The Second World War once again demonstrated
the necessity to establish an international organization to help prevent conflicts around
the world. The League of Nations, created in the wake of the First World War, haven
proven itself weak and ineffective in preventing conflicts or in restraining the instigators
of the Second World War. Germany, Italy and Japan had simply ignored the League of Nations
and local conflicts escalated into a global war.
The key participants in the anti-Hitler coalition, the United States, Great Britain and The Soviet
Union has started discussing the formation of a new organization, led by the Four Policemen
of The United States, Great Britain, The Soviet Union and China, while the Second World War
was still being fought. It was a recurring topic at conferences held in Moscow, Teheran,
Dumbarton Oaks and at Yalta. The aim was to create an international security system capable
of preventing conflicts from occurring and from escalating when they did occur. The first
discussions began during the Moscow Conference, held between the foreign ministers of the
United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain between October 18 and November 11
of 1943. The so-called Big Three did decide to include
China as the ‘fourth policeman” of the future world order, inviting it to sign the
Declaration of the Four Nations, dedicated to the post-war international security system.
The USSR was originally opposed to China’s inclusion in the Declaration as it did not
want to antagonize Japan. Japan and the Soviet Union had signed a nonaggression pact in 1941
but Moscow was afraid the Japanese would see Soviet support of China as threat. The Soviets
at the time could not afford to have a second front opened against the Japanese as they
were fully engaged with fighting Germany. Despite this fear, they did relent and China
was invited to sign. The next round of negotiations, the Tehran
Conference, did not see an agreement on the format or specifics of the new organization
as those details would be worked out at a later date. It did however see The Declaration
of Three Powers, published on December 1, 1943. It stated:
We recognize fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations
to make a peace which will command the good will of the overwhelming mass of the peoples
of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.
With our diplomatic advisers we have surveyed the problems of the future. We shall seek
the cooperation and active participation of all nations, large and small, whose peoples
in heart and mind are dedicated, as are our own peoples, to the elimination of tyranny
and slavery, oppression and intolerance. We will welcome them, as they may choose to come,
into a world family of democratic nations.” As victory over Germany began to look more
and more inevitable, the discussions surrounding the post-war order intensified. Stalin ordered
his diplomats, Litvinov and Stein to prepare the Soviet view of the future organization
that would be responsible for international peace. There were five significant points
that were put forward as key The first was the creation of a strong Council
of great powers, separate from the assembly of all member states. This Council was to
decide on the most important issues related to the protection of peace and security by
means of unanimous votes for agreement. The Soviet Union understood that the majority
of future member states would be capitalist countries, who would be by definition opposed
to the USSR. By creating a strong central council which required a unanimous vote ensured
Soviet interests would be protected in the face of a majority.
The second concept promoted by the Soviets was the need for strong measures to be taken
against countries which attempted to evade sanction regimes against countries deemed
to be threats to international peace. Stein even suggested that violators of sanction
regimes be expelled from the organization. The third point, championed by Litvinov, was
firmly against a strong general assembly of nations, suggesting it should only have the
ability to make recommendations without the need for unanimity.
The fourth point was that the future organization would not have the ability to intervene into
internal matters of states, as the Soviets believed that interference with cross-border
ethnic minorities could create instability. The last major point deemed vital to the Soviets,
was that the organization would be divided into regional sections, with each of the Four
Policemen acting as the regional chair. This idea was that the structure would prevent
a state or states in one region from interfering in the affairs of states in other regions.
Stalin was in agreement with the nature and direction of each of these points, and the
Soviets used these principles in the negotiations going forward.
The next major set of Allied negotiations took place at Dumbarton Oaks, where the USSR
began to push its agenda. They proposed a limit on the number of member states be limited
to those nations who originally signed and joined the Declaration of United Nations.
This would negate the impact of new member states that could be anticipated as the European
colonial empires came undone. They also proposed that the fifteen Soviet
Republics that made up the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, right) be granted
member status to help balance the number of capitalist nations that would outnumber the
communist ones. Stalin based his argument for this on the Soviet Constitution which
allowed each of the Republics to enter into direct relations with foreign states, exchange
representatives and sign international agreements. Stalin also stressed the unparalleled hardships
the Soviet people were enduring in the war and since some of the Republics had larger
populations than some future members would have, they deserved representation. Neither
Great Britain or the United States were happy with this idea and Roosevelt asked the Soviets
to leave this discussion until the actual formation of the organization.
The Soviets resisted the idea that the decisions of the International COurt of the future organization
would be binding. According to Litvinov, “our attitude towards the International Court shall
be based on the presumption that, whatever squad and statute it has, we cannot rely on
complete fairness and impartiality of it in cases related to the Soviet Union”.
The Soviets also promoted the idea that the new organization should only focus on matters
of international security. This was in response the Allies proposal for the establishment
of the Economic and Social council, dependant on the General Assembly, to tackle global
economic and social problems and challenges. The Soviets accepted the creation of the body
but only on the condition that it would be an advisory body, subservient to the General
Assembly. At Dunbarton Oaks, the Soviet concept of the
Security Council the ultimate holder of power in the organization was accepted by all parties
but the Soviets were unable to convince the others of the need for unanimity in Security
Council votes. This was a point later revisited at the Yalta Conference at which point, the
Soviets were able to get their way. Stalin was against inviting states which were
neutral for much of the war to the founding conference for the United Nations in San Francisco.
A compromise on this was reached at the Yalta conference that only states which had joined
the anti-Hitler coalition before the first of March 1945 would be invited.
Stalin knew that it was unrealistic that his proposal to have all Soviet Republic admitted
as member states so he modified his proposal to include only Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania.
Great Britain and the United States both accepted a modified counter compromise of only Ukraine
and Belarus becoming member states however, when it came time for invitations to be extended
for the founding conference, they were not extended to either Republic. According to
the US Secretary of State, the agreement did not explicitly include the invitations.
Tensions between the powers were starting to grow and Poland was the next area of contention.
The United States and Great Britain were unwilling to invite a Polish delegation until a government
of national unity had been formed there in place of the pro-Soviet government that Moscow
had put in place. The Soviets in response claimed that they
were not objecting to invitations to countries such as Paraguay and Liberia, who had not
even recognized the USSR, and that there was generally a biased attitude against their
proposals. As such, they refused to send the Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov to the
founding conference and planned to send their Ambassador in the United States, Andrei Gromyko
instead. The americans and the British, in response, urged the Soviets to still send
Molotov for fear that the reputation of the organization would be damaged from the outset
if senior enough representatives did not attend. Ultimately, the Soviet Union was represented
by Molotov. The San Francisco Conference began on the
25th of April, 1945, coinciding with the meeting of US and Soviet troops on the River Elbe
in Germany. 850 representatives from 50 state took part in the conference, including the
foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, China , and the UNited States. The
Soviet proposal to include Ukraine and Belarus as founding members of the United Nations
was accepted without any significant debate. Although the Poland was not invited to San
Francisco, the Soviet Union did achieve the following formula: any state which signed
the January 1, 1942 Declaration of the United Nations or was present at the San Francisco
conference was eligible to become a founding member of the UN. This later allowed Poland
founding member status. The Soviets were insistent that only states
which accepted United Nations values and were fighting against fascism were allowed to join
the United Nations. Although the Soviets argued for this, the eventual agreement allowed all
sovereign and recognized states to become members of the United Nations.
In conclusion, the Soviet Union did achieve many of its intended goals in the formation
of the United Nations. It made sure that a framework was created that ensured the USSR
would maintain a prominent role in global affairs.
While the USSR struggled to gain advantage in the diplomatic war, back home the post-war
reconstruction process was going full speed and you will find about that in our next video,
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