Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation
The Charter of the United Nations - A Commentary, Volume I, 3rd Edition edited by Simma, Bruno; Khan, Daniel-Erasmus; Nolte, Georg; Paulus, Andreas; Wessendorf, Nikolai (22nd November 2012)

Ch.I Purposes and Principles, Article 1

Rüdiger Wolfrum

From: The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Volume I (3rd Edition)

Edited By: Bruno Simma, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, Georg Nolte, Andreas Paulus, Nikolai Wessendorf, (Assistant Editor)

United Nations (UN) — International peace and security — Civil and political rights — UN Charter

Article 1

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

  1. A.  Introduction 1–6

  2. B.  Interpretation 7–27

  3. C.  Practice 28–38

Select Bibliography

  • D’Argent P and Susani N, ‘United Nations, Purposes and Principles’ MPEPIL, vol X (OUP 2012) 418–27.
  • Bailey SD, The UN Security Council and Human Rights (Martin’s Press and others 1994).
  • Bennett AL, International Organizations: Principles and Issues (7th edn, Prentice Hall 2002) 59.
  • Delbrück J, ‘Collective Security’ EPIL I (1992) 646.
  • de Wet E and Wood M, ‘Collective Security’ MPEPIL, vol II (OUP 2012) 316–22.
  • Dinstein Y, War, Aggression and Self-Defence (4th edn, CUP 2005).
  • Doehring K, ‘Collective Security’ in R Wolfrum (ed), United Nations: Law, Policies and Practice (CH Beck 1995) 110.
  • Gading H, Der Schutz grundlegender Menschenrechte durch militärische Maßnahmen des Sicherheitsrates—das Ende staatlicher Souveränität? (Duncker & Humblot 1996).
  • Goodrich LM and Simons AP, The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security (Brookings Inst 1955).
  • Kerbrat Y, La référence au Chapitre VII de la Charte des Nations Unies dans les résolutions à caractère humanitaire du Conseil de Sécurité (LGDJ 1995).
  • Kimminich O, ‘Was heißt kollektive Sicherheit?’ in D Lutz (ed), Kollektive Sicherheit in und für Europa…Eine Alternative (Nomos 1985) 47.
  • Randelzhofer A, ‘Purposes and Principles of the United Nations’ in R Wolfrum (ed), United Nations: Law, Policies and Practice (CH Beck 1995) 994.(p. 108)
  • Schrijver N, ‘The Future of the Charter of the United Nations’ (2006) 10 Max Planck YB UN L 1.
  • Schwarzenberger G, ‘The Purposes of the United Nations: International Judicial Practice’ (1974) 4 IYBHR 11.
  • Styt AM, ‘1986: UN International Year of Peace’ (1986) 33 NILR 412.
  • UNITAR, The United Nations and the Maintenance of International Peace and Security (Nijhoff 1987).
  • Verosta S, ‘Der Begriff “internationale Sicherheit” in der Satzung der Vereinten Nationen’ in R Marcic, H Mosler, E Suy, and K Zemanek (eds), Internationale Festschrift Verdross (Fink 1971) 533.

A.  Introduction*

The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals were based upon the premise that the effectiveness of a system for the maintenance of international peace and security could be enhanced by defining purposes and principles guiding the actions of the Organization and of its member States. Although such an approach was generally accepted at the San Francisco Conference, proposals were made to modify the Dumbarton Oaks text by introducing additional and more precise definitions. These proposals were designed to limit the relatively far-reaching discretionary powers of the organs, as envisaged by the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals. Accordingly, some of them met with the objections of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The ‘purposes’ as enshrined in the Charter reflect the compromise achieved.1

The United Nations’ purposes, spelled out primarily in Art. 1 of the Charter, and the principles as set out in Art. 2 are both supplemented by the Preamble to the Charter which expresses the ideas which guided the States parties when establishing the United Nations.2

It is not easy to clearly distinguish between the purposes of Art. 1 and the principles as enshrined in Art. 2, in particular since Art. 2 refers back to Art. 1.

The ‘purposes and principles’ are designed to provide a guide for the conduct3 of the UN organs in a fairly flexible manner. It is a matter of controversy whether the purposes of the United Nations as contained in Art. 1 of the Charter are meant to be legally binding. Their place in the Charter, taking into consideration the legislative history of Art. 1, points in the direction of qualifying the purposes as legally binding. However, the wording of Art. 1 is more appropriate for political objectives rather than for legally binding obligations. Account has to be taken of the fact that certain elements of Art. 1 (1) and (2) are considered principles binding under customary international law (such as the prohibition of aggression, the prohibition of other breaches of peace, an obligation (p. 109) to settle disputes by peaceful means, respect for human rights, respect for equal rights, and self-determination of peoples).

Article 1 of the Charter does not indicate how a possible conflict between different purposes might be resolved. This can only be achieved by establishing a practical concordance while giving priority to the lasting preservation of peace. The preservation of peace is often described as being the ‘purpose of all purposes’.4 The ICJ stated in the Advisory Opinion on Certain Expenses that ‘[t]he primary place ascribed to international peace and security is natural, since the fulfilment of the other purposes will be dependent upon the attainment of that basic condition’.5

Decisions of the organs taken under other Articles may be regarded—if one takes a constitutional point of view—as bearing upon, or even implementing, such ‘purposes and principles’. The majority of the Articles of the Charter—apart from those few which further specify Arts 1 and 2—are merely of a procedural nature and serve either the purpose of attributing specific functions to the organs or demarcating the functions of the organs. These Articles refer directly (Arts 14, 24 (2), 52, 76, 104, and 105) or indirectly to the purposes and principles by repeating the wording of the latter (Arts 11, 12, 13, 24 (1), 33–39, 42, 43, 48, 51, 55, 73, 84, and 99). This means that each decision taken by a UN organ is evidence of the application and interpretation in practice of the purposes of the Charter. This relationship is often expressed in the decisions of the organs in the form of reference made to Art. 1 as a whole or in part, together with a citation of the Articles which allocate powers and assign functions and responsibilities to the various organs.

B.  Interpretation

Paragraph 1 of Art. 1 is composed of two parts, the first of which describes the essential ‘purpose’ of the Organization, namely to maintain international peace and security, whereas the following paragraphs set out means designed to achieve this ‘purpose’. However, it would be incorrect to say that the second part of para 1 and paras 2 and 3 only describe means to maintain international peace and security, even if this notion is understood broadly. Friendly relations among nations and international cooperation serving the objectives as referred to in para 3 are purposes in their own right, too.

The term ‘international peace and security’, which was previously used in the Preamble of the Covenant of the League of Nations, is used quite frequently throughout the Charter.6 Nowhere in the Charter is the term ‘international security’ used alone, whereas the terms ‘peace’ or ‘universal peace’ can be found separately. Both of these latter terms address different, although interrelated or even overlapping, concepts. The degree of overlap, however, depends very much upon whether the term ‘peace’ is narrowly or broadly defined.7 If ‘peace’ is narrowly defined as the mere absence of a threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State (Art. 2 (4))8 (p. 110) (‘negative peace’), the term ‘security’ will contain parts of what is usually referred to as the notion of ‘positive peace’.9 This latter notion is generally understood as encompassing the activity which is necessary for maintaining the conditions of peace.

The Preamble and Art. 1 (1), (2), and (3) indicate that peace is more than the absence of war. These provisions refer to an evolutionary development in the state of international relations which is meant to lead to the diminution of those issues likely to cause war. For example, Art. 1 (2) speaks of the strengthening of peace through the development of friendly relations among nations.10 In the same vein, Art. 1 (3) indicates that the United Nations’ function is to bring about a stabilization of international relations in order to curtail the likelihood of war. Consequently, the GA has frequently emphasized the close link between the strengthening of international peace and security on the one hand, and disarmament, decolonization, and development on the other.11 This approach was not, at least not to its fullest extent, reflected in the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace.12

10  However, it served as a basis for the Proclamation of the International Year of Peace.13 This Proclamation stated that the promotion of international peace and security required continuing and positive action by States and peoples with respect to a series of goals, including: the prevention of war; the removal of various threats to peace (including the nuclear threat); respect for the principle of the non-use of force; the resolution of conflicts and the peaceful settlement of disputes; the development of confidence-building measures; agreement on disarmament; the maintenance of outer space for peaceful uses; respect for the economic development of States; the promotion and exercise of human rights and freedoms; decolonization in accordance with the principle of self-determination; the elimination of racial discrimination and apartheid; the enhancement of the quality of life; the satisfaction of human needs; and the protection of the environment. The High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change enumerated in its 2004 report ‘A more secure world: Our shared responsibility’ five clusters of threats with which the world must be concerned now and in the decades ahead: economic and social threats, including poverty, infectious disease, and environmental degradation; inter-State conflict; internal conflict, including civil war, genocide, and other large-scale atrocities; nuclear, radiological, chemical, and (p. 111) biological weapons; terrorism; and transnational organized crime.14 Similarly, the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated in his report ‘In larger freedom’:

The threats to peace and security in the twenty-first century include not just international war and conflict but civil violence, organized crime, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. They also include poverty, deadly infectious disease and environmental degradation since these can have equally catastrophic consequences. All of these threats can cause death or lessen life chances on a large scale. All of them can undermine States as the basic unit of the international system.15

11  The term ‘international security’, in turn, consists of a subjective and an objective element. The pursuit of this principle implies a transformation of international relations so that every State is assured that peace will not be broken, or at least that any breach of the peace will be limited in its impact.16 International security implies the right of every State to take advantage of any relevant security system, while also implying the legal obligations of every State to support such systems.17 The GA has stated that national and international security has become increasingly interrelated,18 which accordingly makes it necessary for States to approach international security in a comprehensive and cooperative manner. Since the unilateral and unrestrained pursuit of national security interests may disturb the balance of power, thus detrimentally affecting international security, it is crucial that nations reconcile possible contradictions between national security interests and the overall interest of international security. This concept has been seriously challenged by the ‘National Security Strategy of the United States’, which was published in September 2002.19

12  Traditionally, the concept of international security was perceived as primarily a problem of State security. Within recent years, however, an additional concept has emerged—that of human security, acknowledging that threats cannot only come from States and non-State actors, but can also exist to the security of both, States and the people.20

13  The GA has emphasized the role regional arrangements play in respect of the maintenance of international peace and security, underlining, however, the dominant role to be played by the Security Council.21

(p. 112) 14  International security can be promoted and achieved through various policies or measures, two of which are referred to in para 1, namely measures of collective security and adjustment or settlement of international disputes. The former refers to measures taken under Chapter VII, the latter to measures under Chapter VI.22

15  The defining characteristic of the concept of collective security23 is the protection of the members of the system against a possible attack on the part of any other member of the same system. Thus, the concept is primarily directed (unlike a system of collective self-defence) against the illegal use of force from within the group of States forming the collective security system, rather than against an external threat.24 The main legal prerequisite of collective security is the general prohibition of the use of force, except when authorized by the competent central organ of the respective organization (an idea reflected in Art. 24) or in cases of self-defence.25 The distinction drawn between the concepts of collective security and collective self-defence has been blurred to some extent in practice,26 and it has also lost relevance with respect to the United Nations. This is due to the fact that membership of the United Nations has become almost universal, rendering any distinction based upon external or internal acts of aggression rather meaningless.

16  As collective security is a system where States collectively respond to threats to and breaches of the peace, its scope becomes wider when the understanding of threats to the peace expands. Thus, with the development of the concept of peace from a negative to a positive approach, the concept of collective security has expanded.27

17  Article 1 (1) refers to the maintenance of international peace and security as the overarching purpose of the United Nations, whereas the suppression of aggression is only referred to as one objective to be achieved through measures of collective security. This means that international peace and security may be endangered not only by acts of aggression, but also by any other threat to the peace. It further means that suppression of aggression as an objective of the United Nations is subordinate to the maintenance of international peace and security.28 In consequence thereof the Security Council may also direct its measures against the State being a victim of aggression if and to the extent that this measure effectively preserves international peace and security.

(p. 113) 18  The system of collective security can be supplemented, for example, by means of disarmament and confidence-building measures.29 With respect to disarmament, the GA30 stated in UNGA Res 34/83 (11 December 1979), that:

genuine and lasting peace can be created only through the effective implementation of the security system provided for in the Charter of the United Nations and through the speedy and substantial reduction of arms and armed forces by international agreement…leading ultimately to general and complete disarmament31 under effective international control.

19  Another means through which States may protect international peace and security is to achieve a balance of power.32 In consequence, the GA has stated that hegemonic behaviour represents a serious threat to international peace and security.33

20  Aside from collective measures, Art. 1 (1) identifies another path to maintain international peace and security, namely, the peaceful settlement or adjustment of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.

21  This part of the wording of para 1 differs from the Dumbarton Oaks text in the respect that this adjustment or settlement must be accomplished ‘in conformity with the principles of justice and international law’. With this, the discretionary powers of the organs concerned are narrowed to a considerable extent. This specific insertion, advocated in some form or another by several States,34 was suggested by a four-power proposal (China, United Kingdom, United States, and the Soviet Union), which had, however, favoured a less explicit reference to justice and international law.35 The other participants at the San Francisco Conference then insisted upon shifting the emphasis from a peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of political considerations to one based instead on considerations of international law and justice. The words ‘justice and international law’ in para 1, as in the Preamble,36 not only refer to treaties, customary (p. 114) law, and general principles of law (Art. 38 of the ICJ Statute) but also establish a connection to natural law.

22  During the deliberations of the San Francisco Conference, it was suggested that the formulations of the purpose enshrined in para 1 be amended so as to read, ‘to maintain international peace and security in conformity with the principles of justice and international law’.37 This motion, however, did not receive the required majority.38 The view was expressed that it was important that the SC should have the power to bring about an end to hostilities without considering whether one side could legally have recourse to armed force.39 The legislative history of Art. 1 (1) makes it doubtful whether the SC may take permanent measures, for example, concerning the territorial situation of a State, which are not in conformity with international law.

23  The wording of Art. 1 (1) indicates that three different functions of UN organs may be distinguished as far as the maintenance of peace and security are concerned. These are identified more specifically in the operative part of the Charter, to which Art. 1 (1) refers. First, the Organization should insist upon and take measures so that States do not threaten, or cause, a breach of the peace. This function is vested primarily in the GA, and to that extent Art. 1 (1) refers to Arts 10, 11, and 13. If a State commits an act of aggression or another breach of the peace, or threatens to do so, it is, secondly, up to the SC to take effective collective measures as provided for in Chapter VII. Thirdly, the Organization can proceed to find an adjustment or settlement of the dispute or situation, a function entrusted to the GA under Art. 14 and to the SC and the GA under Chapter VI.

24  The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals did not refer to ‘friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples’, although the Atlantic Charter of 14 August 1941 contained some language directed toward the principle of self-determination. The amendment to the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals suggested by the four inviting powers, however, included a wording nearly identical to Art. 1 (2).40 The reaction of Conference participants was not entirely positive. The representative from Belgium, in particular, pointed out that only the notion of equality ‘of States’ and not that of ‘equality of peoples’ was a part of international law. In addition, he argued that it was dangerous to make the right to self-determination the basis of friendly relations among States.41 Doubts were also raised by those States which, although in favour of introducing the right to self-determination into the Charter, wanted to ensure that this inclusion would not embrace a right of secession. (p. 115) The discussion at the Conference and the summary of the Rapporteur42 show the objective pursued by the drafters of Art. 1 (2). The term ‘equality of peoples’ was meant to underline that no hierarchy existed between the various peoples. To this extent, the prohibition of racial discrimination was transferred from the national level to the level of international relations. Apart from that, the principle of equality of peoples and the right to self-determination are united. With this, it is assured that no peoples can be denied the right to self-determination on the basis of any alleged inferiority. The reference to self-determination encompasses the principle of self-government, but does not justify secession.43 Finally, the principle of self-determination was formulated as a basis for friendly relations among nations. Thus, according to the drafters of the Charter, a hierarchy of principles existed in that the right of self-determination should be pursued so long as it does not disturb friendly relations among nations.44

25  The principle of self-determination acquired its final shape through the practice of the UN. This will be analysed by Oeter in a separate chapter which follows the Commentaries on Arts 1 and 2.45

26  Paragraph 3 differs greatly from the corresponding Dumbarton Oaks text. Whereas the latter only provided for the achievement of international cooperation in solving international economic, social, and other humanitarian problems, the present text is much more explicit, although not substantially different. It was already proposed by the four inviting powers,46 and merely underwent drafting changes during the course of the San Francisco Conference. In connection with para 3, a suggestion was made to draft, or to include an already drafted bill of rights of nations and individuals. It was, however, decided that such a task should be left to the Organization. The operative parts of the Charter to which Art. 1 (3) refers are Chapters IX and X.

27  The text of Art. 1(4) is taken from the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals with only one drafting change. Paragraph 4 emphasizes the necessity of consensus among the member States (and especially among the permanent members of the SC) as a basis for action achieved through the Organization.47 To that extent, para 4 has a double meaning.48 It refers, first, to the decision-making process in the UN organs49 and its underlying philosophy, while at the same time envisaging the transformation of the society of States into a community of States.50 Such a transformation is facilitated by the sharing of common goals, as well as by the means through which these goals are to be achieved (cooperation, development of friendly relations based upon certain principles, settlement of disputes, and adjustment of disputes and situations in conformity with the principles of international law and justice).

(p. 116) C.  Practice

28  As indicated above, references to Art. 1 in decisions by the UN organs, made in a Preamble or in an operative paragraph, are very often combined with a reference to the Articles allocating powers and assigning functions and responsibilities. In order to avoid duplication, the following analysis is limited to an examination of certain general features of the practice of the UN organs in supporting their decisions by references to Art. 1.

29  The practice of the UN organs bearing on Art. 1 falls into two categories. The first consists of decisions of general relevance, such as those concerned with the definition of standards of international conduct, general formulations, and their implementation. The second concerns the decisions of the Organization with respect to disputes and situations affecting the relations of particular States. In this respect, the organs have on some occasions issued recommendations to particular States, namely that they should be guided by the ‘purposes’ of the UN in the conduct of their relations or in negotiations with other States. In this context, the question arose whether, for example, Art. 1(3) contained sufficiently precise standards to be invoked as a basis for specific recommendations.51

30  The content of the decisions referring to Art. 1 is as wide and as varied as the scope of the Charter itself. In applying Art. 1, the organs of the United Nations have addressed each other, the specialized agencies, member States generally, all nations, particular members, and particular non-members.

31  The GA has occasionally referred to the ‘purposes’ as a whole as forming one of the constitutional grounds for its decisions. Reference was usually made simultaneously to Art. 2. One of the major examples is UNGA Res 377 (V) (3 November 1950)52 (Uniting for Peace). Other such references have been of a more general nature. In its UNGA Res 1301 (XIII) (10 December 1958), the GA stressed that the observance of the ‘purposes and principles’ created the best basis for ensuring the conditions essential for the nations and peoples of the world to live, and to assist each other, in mutual tolerance and understanding, for the benefit of all. In UNGA Res 1815 (XVII) (18 December 1962) (Considerations on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States), in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the GA noted that ‘the great political, economic, social and scientific changes that had (p. 117) occurred in the world since the adoption of the Charter had further emphasized the vital importance of the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations and of their application to present-day conditions’.53 In its Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the GA stated:

that the adoption of the Declaration…would contribute to the strengthening of world peace and constitute a landmark in the development of international law and of relations among States, in promoting the rule of law among nations and particularly the universal application of the Principles embodied in the Charter.54

32  In UNGA Res 2734 (XXV) (16 December 1970) (Declaration on the Strengthening of International Security), the GA reaffirmed the ‘universal and unconditional validity of the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations as the basis of relations among States irrespective of their size, geographical location, level of development or political, economic and social systems’.55 The commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter was also strongly reaffirmed in the Millennium Declaration: ‘We reaffirm our commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which have proved timeless and universal. Indeed, their relevance and capacity to inspire have increased, as nations and peoples have become increasingly interconnected and interdependent.’56 At the World Summit 2005 the Heads of State and Government emphasized again their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter.57

33  On several occasions, the GA has stated that the codification of the rules of international law and their progressive development would assist in promoting the ‘purposes and principles’ of the Charter of the United Nations.58 Reference to the ‘purposes’ was made when the GA attempted to formulate the interests of the world community as a whole.59 Finally, the GA has frequently requested that new efforts be made to broaden the teaching in schools of the ‘purposes and principles’ of the Charter and of the structure and activities of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, with particular reference to human rights.60

(p. 118) 34  The principles enshrined in Art. 1 (1) have been the subject of occasional discussion and have been specifically referred to in GA resolutions concerning the following matters: calling upon governments to settle their disputes by peaceful means;61 appealing to the permanent members of the SC to contribute more effectively to the promotion of international peace;62 qualifying certain situations;63 appealing for the regulation, limitation, and balanced reduction of all armed forces and all armaments;64 condemning all forms of propaganda designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.65 Perhaps the most comprehensive action by the GA in this respect is the Declaration of Societies for Life in Peace.66 It lists eight principles designed to guide States.67

35  In recent years explicit references were made by the GA to Art. 1 (2), inter alia, with regard to the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations;68 the Human Rights Council;69 the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination;70 respect for the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States in electoral processes as an important element for the promotion and protection of human rights;71 respect for the principles of national sovereignty and diversity of democratic systems in electoral processes as an important element for the promotion and protection of human rights.72

36  The GA, while referring to Art. 1 (3), has on several occasions stressed the need for international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, (p. 119) cultural, or humanitarian character and of promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The issues touched upon are manifold. The need for international cooperation was particularly emphasized in the first few years, whenever the GA initiated relief actions.73 Later on, the emphasis shifted to promoting the development of developing countries either by creating favourable conditions for them,74 by obliging States75 or UN organs to render help,76 by providing for direct financial or technical assistance,77 or by calling for cooperation among States. In UNGA Res 2625 (XXV) (24 October 1970) the GA proclaimed that ‘States have the duty to cooperate with one another, irrespective of the differences in their political, economic and social systems, in the various spheres of international relations’.78 In connection with the creation of new organs in the field of economic development and cooperation, Art. 1 (3), in particular, has frequently been invoked. In Res 2152 (XXI) (17 November 1966), the GA stated that the purpose of UNIDO should be ‘to promote industrial development, in accordance with Article 1 para 3 and Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter’. Equally it is the task of UNIDO to ‘encourage the mobilization of national and international resources to assist in, promote and accelerate the industrialization of the developing countries’.

37  As far as the protection of human rights is concerned, Art. 1 (3) has been invoked with respect to the improvement generally within the UN System of the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,79 the political rights of women,80 the Draft Convention on Freedom of Information,81 the question of racial conflict in South Africa resulting from the policies of apartheid,82 information from non-self-governing (p. 120) territories,83 the elimination of racial discrimination,84 the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion and beliefs,85 development of public information activities in the field of human rights,86 enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights,87 and the strengthening of the rule of law.88

38  Article 1 (4) was invoked—sometimes together with Art. 1 (3)—when the GA established a new organ, for example the resolution on the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development referred to Art. 1 (4).89 Such references, however, are not too frequent. No explicit references to Art. 1 (4) have been made since 1965. In principle Art. 1 (4) has suffered the same fate as Art. 56,90 to which it is related.


Mirka Möldner provided valuable information to this entry and contributed very helpful advice.

1  As to the negotiating history see A Randelzhofer, ‘Purposes and Principles of the United Nations’ in R Wolfrum (ed), United Nations: Law, Policies and Practice (CH Beck 1995) 995.

2  It has been criticized, inter alia, by Schrijver (N Schrijver, ‘The Future of the Charter of the United Nations’ (2006) 10 Max Planck YB UN L 17 and 32f) that new objectives that have emerged over the years, such as development, combating poverty, post-war peace reconstruction, the conservation of the environment and promoting of the rule of law, are not, or only barely mentioned in the Charter.

3  The Rapporteur of Committee I/1 referred to the purposes as ‘the raison d’être of the Organization,…the aggregation of the common ends…the cause and object of the Charter to which member states collectively and severally subscribe’; UNCIO VI, 447, Doc 944.

4  Compare also CPF/Bedjaoui, 314.

5  Certain Expenses of the United Nations (Advisory Opinion) [1962] ICJ Rep 151, 168.

6  eg in the Preamble; Arts 2 (3) and (6), 11 (1) and (2), 12 (2), 18 (2), 23 (1), 24 (1), 26, 33 (1), 34, 37 (2), 39, 42, 43 (1), 47, 48 (1), 51, 52 (1), 73, 76, 84, 99, 106.

7  See, especially, JA Randelzhofer, ‘Der normative Gehalt des Friedensbegriffs im Völkerrecht der Gegenwart’ in J Delbrück (ed), Völkerrecht und Kriegsverhütung (Duncker & Humblot 1979) 13–39.

8  See Randelzhofer and Dörr on Art. 2 (4) MN 14f.

9  Randelzhofer (n 7) 22f.

10  The UNGA has listed component elements of peace in several resolutions: UNGA Res 290 (IV) (1 December 1949) UN Doc A/RES/290(IV); UNGA Res 380 (V) (17 November 1950) UN Doc A/RES/380(V); UNGA Res 1236 (XII) (14 December 1957) UN Doc A/RES/1236(XII); see UNGA Res 33/73 (15 December 1978) UN Doc A/RES/33/73; in particular for the Balkan UNGA Res 50/80 B (12 December 1995) UN Doc A/RES/50/80B.

11  UNGA Res 2734 (XXV) (16 December 1970) (Declaration on the Strengthening of International Security) UN Doc A/RES/2734(XXV); UNGA Res 34/100 (14 December 1979) UN Doc A/RES/34/100; UNGA Res 35/158 (12 December 1980) UN Doc A/RES/35/158; UNGA Res 38/71 B (15 December 1983) UN Doc A/RES/38/71B; UNGA Res 39/160 (17 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/160; UNGA Res 40/155 (16 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/155; UNGA Res 44/114 (15 December 1989) UN Doc A/RES/44/114 concerning the reduction of military budgets; UNGA Res 50/70 (12 December 1995) UN Doc A/RES/50/70 on general and complete disarmament.

12  UNGA Res 39/11 (12 November 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/11. Its operative para 3 reads ‘emphasizes that ensuring the exercise of the right of peoples to peace demands that the policies of States be directed towards the elimination of the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, the renunciation of the use of force in international relations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations’. This appeal implies more strongly the notion of negative than of positive peace.

13  UNGA Res 40/3 (24 October 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/3.

14  Doc A/59/565 of 2 December 2004 (synopsis, 2).

15  Doc A/59/2005 of 21 March 2005, para 78; to the expansion of the notion of ‘threat to the peace’ compare also E de Wet and M Woods, ‘Peace, Threat to’ MPEPIL, vol VIII (OUP 2012) 160–64.

16  S Verosta, ‘Der Begriff “internationale Sicherheit” in der Satzung der Vereinten Nationen’ in R Marcic, H Mosler, E Suy, and K Zemanek (eds), Internationale Festschrift Verdross (Fink 1971) 533f; concepts of international security were dealt with by a group of governmental experts appointed pursuant to UNGA Res 37/99 (13 December 1983) UN Doc A/RES/37/99, which called for ‘a comprehensive study of concepts of security, in particular security policies which emphasize co-operative efforts and mutual understanding between States, with a view to developing proposals for policies aimed at preventing the arms race, building confidence in relations between States, enhancing the possibility of reaching agreements on arms limitation and disarmament and promoting political and economic security’ (UN Doc A/40/533).

17  CPF/Lachs and Gowlland-Debbas, 329; see also Aust on Art. 2 (5) MN 4f.

18  UNGA Res 41/90 (4 December 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/90.

19  Compare AJK Bailes and A Wetter, ‘Security Strategies’ MPEPIL, vol IX (OUP 2012) 83–90.

20  Compare on the concept of human security State Security—Human Security, S Ogata, Friedtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture 2001; report ‘Human Security Now’ of the Commission on Human Security, chaired by S Ogata and A Sen, New York 2003; SN MacFarlane and YF Khong, Human Security and the UN. A Critical History (Indiana UP 2006).

21  UNGA Res 49/57 (9 December 1994) UN Doc A/RES/49/57; see also the report of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization (GAOR 45th Session Supp No 33 (A/49/33)); see also C Walter, ‘Regional Arrangements and the United Nations Charter’ MPEPIL, vol VIII (OUP 2012) 746–58.

22  Compare also Krisch on Art. 39 and Tomuschat on Art. 33.

23  Appeals have been made by the UNGA for the implementation of the collective security provisions of the Charter: UNGA Res 37/119 (16 December 1982) UN Doc A/RES/37/119; UNGA Res 38/191 (20 December 1983) UN Doc A/RES/38/191; UNGA Res 39/158 (17 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/158; UNGA Res 40/159 (16 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/159.

24  J Delbrück, ‘Collective Security’ EPIL I (1992) 647.

25  See Randelzhofer and Nolte on Art. 51 MN 6f.

26  In the draft report by governmental experts (A/C.l/41/L.31, 4), the notion of collective security is described as the commitment of the international community ‘to move promptly to counter any act of aggression by one nation against another’; similarly, see O Kimminich, ‘Was heißt kollektive Sicherheit?’ in D Lutz (ed), Kollektive Sicherheit in und für Europa…Eine Alternative (Nomos 1985) 51.

27  Compare on the wider meaning of collective security today E de Wet and M Wood, ‘Collective Security’ MPEPIL, vol II (OUP 2012) 316–22. The former Secretary-General Kofi Annan advocated a broader, more comprehensive concept of collective security, inter alia, in his note of 2 December 2004 which follows up the outcome of the Millennium Summit, UNGA ‘Note by the Secretary-General’ (2004) UN Doc A/59/565.

28  Regarding the concept of ‘aggression’ compare Y Dinstein, ‘Aggression’ MPEPIL, vol I (OUP 2012) 201–09.

29  Both are mentioned in UNGA Res 40/3 (24 October 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/3. As to confidence-building see also UNGA Res 34/87 B (11 December 1979) UN Doc A/RES/34/87B; UNGA Res 35/156 B (12 December 1980) UN Doc A/RES/35/156B; UNGA Res 38/68 (15 December 1983) UN Doc A/RES/38/68; UNGA Res 39/57 (12 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/57 strengthening of the security of nuclear weapons States against the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons; UNGA Res 39/58 (12 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/58; UNGA Res 40/86 (12 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/86; UNGA Res UNGA Res 44/114 (15 December 1989) UN Doc A/RES/44/114 concerning the reduction of military budgets; UNGA Res 50/70 (12 December 1995) UN Doc A/RES/50/70 on general and complete disarmament.

30  See also UNGA Res S-10/2 (30 June 1978) UN Doc A/RES/S-10/2; UNGA Res 34/88 (11 December 1979) UN Doc A/RES/34/88 (international cooperation for disarmament); UNGA Res 35/46 (3 December 1980) UN Doc A/RES/35/46; UNGA Res 35/156 J (12 December 1980) UN Doc A/RES/35/156J; UNGA Res 36/92 D (9 December 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/92D; UNGA Res 40/94 A-O (12 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/94A-O; UNGA Res 40/151 A-I (16 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/151A-I; UNGA Res 41/59 A-O (3 December 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/59A-O; UNGA Res 41/60 A-J (3 December 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/60A-J; UNGA Res 41/61 (3 December 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/61; UNGA Res 41/86 A-R (4 December 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/86A-R.

31  The UNGA has stated that confidence-building measures cannot serve as a substitute for disarmament (UNGA Res 36/97 F (9 Dec 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/97F).

32  Compare on the concept of balance of power D Vagts, ‘Balance of Power’ MPEPIL, vol I (OUP 2012) 786–90.

33  UNGA Res 34/103 (14 December 1979) UN Doc A/RES/34/103.

34  Chile (Doc 2; G/7 (i), UNCIO III, 284); Netherlands (Doc 2; G/7 (j), UNCIO III, 311); Ecuador (Doc 2; G/7 (p), UNCIO III, 398, 420); Greece (Doc 2; G/14 (i), UNCIO III, 531); Iran (Doc 2; G/14 (m), UNCIO III, 554).

35  UNCIO III, 622 Doc 2, G/29. The suggested amendment read: ‘and with due regard for principles of justice and international law’.

36  See Wolfrum on Preamble MN 9.

37  See report of Rapporteur of Subcommittee I/1/A, according to which various delegations favoured the inclusion of justice among the purposes, fearing that its omission might mean that the Organization intended to impose a peace of expedience rather than a peace founded on justice; UNCIO VI, 702, Doc 723, I/l/A/19.

38  UNCIO VI, 34 and 318.

39  Representative of the United States, UNCIO VI, 29; of the United Kingdom, UNCIO VI, 25. The provision was interpreted in the report of Committee I/1 as follows: ‘At a first stage, the Organization should insist and take measures that states do not threaten or cause a breach of the peace. If they do, the Organization should, at a second stage, promptly stop any breach of the peace or remove it.…When the Organization has used the power given to it and the force at its disposal to stop war, then it can find the latitude to apply the principles of justice and international law, or can assist the contending parties to find a peaceful solution. The concept of justice and international law can thus find a more appropriate place in context with the paragraph dealing with disputes and situations’ (UNCIO VI, 453); see also Kelsen, 730.

40  UNCIO III, 622, Doc 2, G/29.

41  UNCIO VI, 300, Doc 374, I/1/17.

42  UNCIO VI, 455, Doc 944, I/1/34.

43  UNCIO VI, 296, Doc 343, I/1/16.

44  CP (2nd edn)/Cassese, 43; CPF/Dobelle, 339.

45  Compare also D Thürer and T Burri, ‘Self-Determination’ MPEPIL, vol IX (OUP 2012) 113–18.

46  UNCIO VI, 448, 455, Doc 944.

47  GHS, 35.

48  CP (2nd edn)/Dupuy, 67 speaks of a double Utopia; cf also Bennouna who, without using the term utopia, still alludes to two different meanings, CPF/Bennouna, 379ff.

49  See Wolfrum on Art. 18 MN 30; Simma, Brunner, and Kaul on Art. 27 (2nd edn) MN 111–116, cf also Zimmermann on Art. 27 MN 161f.

50  F Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (8th edn, Buske 1935) 180f.

51  See consideration of the agenda item entitled ‘Treatment of Indians settled in the territory of the Union of South Africa’. See also Nolte on Art. 2 (7) MN 39. UNGA Res 265 (III) (14 May 1949) UN Doc A/RES/265(III), invited the governments concerned to enter into discussion, ‘taking into consideration the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights’. In its UNGA Res ES-6/2 (14 January 1980) UN Doc A/RES/ES-6/2 concerning the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, the UNGA re-emphasized the obligation of all States to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of any State or any other manner inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter.

52  Para 14 of UNGA Res 377 (V) UN Doc A/RES/377(V) reads: ‘[The General Assembly is] fully conscious that, in adopting the proposals set forth above, enduring peace will not be secured solely by collective security arrangements against breaches of international peace and acts of aggression, but that a genuine and lasting peace depends also upon the observance of all the ‘principles and purposes’ established in the Charter of the United Nations, upon the implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council, the General Assembly and other principal organs of the United Nations intended to achieve the maintenance of international peace and security, and especially upon respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all and on the establishment and maintenance of conditions of economic and social well-being in all countries; and accordingly…’

53  See also UNGA Res 1966 (XVIII) (16 December 1963) UN Doc A/RES/1966(XVIII); UNGA Res 2103 A (XX) (20 December 1965) UN Doc A/RES/2103A(XX).

54  UNGA Res 2625 (XXV) (24 October 1970) UN Doc A/RES/2625(XXV).

55  Endorsed by UNGA Res 41/90 (4 December 1986) UN Doc A/RES/41/90.

56  UN Doc A/55/L.2 (2000) at para 3; compare G Pleuger, ‘United Nations, Millennium Declaration’ MPEPIL (online edn).

57  UNGA Res 60/1 (16 September 2005) UN Doc A/RES/60/1, paras 2, 5, and 77.

58  UNGA Res 1505 (XV) (12 December 1960) UN Doc A/RES/1505(XV); UNGA Res 1686 (XVI) (18 December 1961) UN Doc A/RES/1686(XVI); UNGA Res 2103 A (XX) (20 December 1965) UN Doc A/RES/2103A(XX); UNGA Res 2166 (XXI) (5 December 1966) UN Doc A/RES/2166(XXI); UNGA Res 2167 (XXI) (5 December 1966) UN Doc A/RES/2167(XXI); UNGA Res 2181 (XXI) (12 December 1966) UN Doc A/RES/2181(XXI); UNGA Res 34/146 (17 December 1979) (International Convention against the Taking of Hostages) UN Doc A/RES/34/146; UNGA Res 36/106 (10 December 1981) (Draft Code of Offences against Mankind) UN Doc A/RES/36/106.

59  UNGA Res 2222 (XXI) (19 December 1966) (outer space) UN Doc A/RES/2222(XXI); UNGA Res 2340 (XXII) (18 December 1967) (sea-bed) UN Doc A/RES/2340(XXII); UNGA Res 39/59 (12 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/59; UNGA Res 40/87 (12 December 1985) (outer space) UN Doc A/RES/40/87. This approach is not further pursued in more recent resolutions concerning outer space or the sea. Possible references to the Charter are superseded by references to the respective conventions.

60  UNGA Res 2445 (XXIII) (19 December 1968) UN Doc A/RES/2445(XXIII).

61  UNGA Res 109 (II) (21 October 1947) (threats to the political independence and territorial integrity of Greece) UN Doc A/RES/109(II); UNGA Res 707 (VII) (23 April 1953) (complaint of Burma against China) UN Doc A/RES/707(VII); UNGA Res 36/110 (10 December 1981) (on a declaration on the peaceful settlement of disputes) UN Doc A/RES/36/110.

62  UNGA Res 190 (III) (3 November 1948) UN Doc A/RES/190(III); UNGA Res 36/102 (9 December 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/102; as to the attempts to implement the collective security system, see n 23.

63  Such as Afghanistan, UNGA Res ES-6/2 (14 January 1980) UN Doc A/RES/ES-6/2; UNGA Res 35/37 (20 November 1980) UN Doc A/RES/35/37; UNGA Res 36/34 (18 November 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/34; UNGA Res 39/13 (15 November 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/13; UNGA Res 40/12 (13 November 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/12; Kampuchea, UNGA Res 39/5 (30 October 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/5.

64  See n 29.

65  UNGA Res 110 (II) (3 November 1947) UN Doc A/RES/110(II); UNGA Res 381 (V) (17 November 1950) UN Doc A/RES/381(V); UNGA Res 819 (IX) (11 December 1954) UN Doc A/RES/819(IX); UNGA Res 33/73 (15 December 1978) UN Doc A/RES/33/73.

66  UNGA Res 33/73 (15 December 1978) UN Doc A/RES/33/73; see also UNGA Res 36/104 (9 December 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/104; UNGA Res 39/157 (17 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/39/157.

67  Every State has the right to live in peace; war or aggression is an international crime; duty to refrain from propaganda for wars or aggression; duty to promote cooperation among States; duty to respect the right of peoples to self-determination; promotion of disarmament; discouragement of all manifestations and practices of colonialism and apartheid; discouragement of advocacy of hatred and prejudice against other peoples.

68  UNGA Res 56/6 (9 November 2001) UN Doc A/RES/56/6.

69  UNGA Res 60/251 (15 March 2006) UN Doc A/RES/60/251.

70  UNGA Res 55/87 (4 December 2000) UN Doc A/RES/55/87; UNGA Res 56/142 (19 December 2001) UN Doc A/RES/56/142; UNGA Res 57/198 (18 December 2002) UN Doc A/RES/57/198; UNGA Res 58/163 (22 December 2003) UN Doc A/RES/58/163; UNGA Res 59/179 (20 December 2004) UN Doc A/RES/59/179; UNGA Res 60/146 (16 December 2005) UN Doc A/RES/60/146;UNGA Res 61/152 (19 December 2006) UN Doc A/RES/61/152; UNGA Res 62/146 (18 December 2007) UN Doc A/RES/62/146; UNGA Res 63/165 (18 December 2008) UN Doc A/RES/63/165; UNGA Res 64/150 (18 December 2009) UN Doc A/RES/64/150.

71  UNGA Res 56/154 (December 2001) UN Doc A/RES/56/154.

72  UNGA Res 58/189 (22 December 2003) UN Doc A/RES/58/189; UNGA Res 60/164 (16 December 2005) UN Doc A/RES/60/164.

73  UNGA Res 48 (I) (11 December 1946) UN Doc A/RES/48(I); UNGA Res 400 (V) (20 November 1950) (financing of economic development of developing countries) UN Doc A/RES/400(V); UNGA Res 410 A (V) (1 December 1950) (relief and rehabilitation of Korea) UN Doc A/RES/410A(V).

74  UNGA Res 626 (VII) (21 December 1952) (right to exploit freely natural wealth and resources) UN Doc A/RES/626(VII); UNGA Res 1803 (XVII) (14 December 1962) UN Doc A/RES/1803(XVII); UNGA Res 2158 (XXI) (25 November 1966) (permanent sovereignty over natural resources) UN Doc A/RES/2158(XXI).

75  UNGA Res 1423 (XIV) (5 December 1959) (international measures to assist in offsetting fluctuations in commodity prices) UN Doc A/RES/1423(XIV).

76  UNGA Res 923 (X) (9 December 1955) (establishment of a special United Nations Fund for Economic Development) UN Doc A/RES/923(X); UNGA Res 1423 (XIV) (5 December 1959) UN Doc A/RES/1423(XIV); UNGA Res 2152 (XXI) (17 November 1966) (purpose of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization) UN Doc A/RES/2152(XXI).

77  See Wolfrum on Art. 55 (a) and (b) (2nd edn) MN 34f; Stoll on Art. 55 (a) and (b) MN 40f.

78  More recent resolutions of the UNGA on these subjects tend to refer to previous resolutions rather than to the Charter.

79  UNGA Res 34/46 (23 November 1979) UN Doc A/RES/34/46; UNGA Res 36/133 (14 December 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/133; UNGA Res 38/124 (16 December 1983) UN Doc A/RES/38/124; UNGA Res 339/145 (14 December 1984) UN Doc A/RES/339/145; UNGA Res 40/124 (13 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/124.

80  UNGA Res 56 (I) (11 December 1946) UN Doc A/RES/56(I); UNGA Res 2263 (XXII) (7 November 1967) UN Doc A/RES2263(XXII); UNGA Res 34/180 (18 December 1979) UN Doc A/RES/34/180 (adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women); UNGA Res 36/131 (14 December 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/131; UNGA Res 51/68 (12 December 1996) UN Doc A/RES/51/68; UNGA Res 53/118 (9 December 1998) UN Doc A/RES/53/118.

81  UNGA Res 426 (V) (14 December 1950) UN Doc A/RES/426(V).

82  UNGA Res 616 A (VII) (5 December 1952) UN Doc A/RES/616A(VII); UNGA Res 820 (IX) (14 December 1954) UN Doc A/RES/820(IX); UNGA Res 1016 (XI) (30 January 1957) UN Doc A/RES/1016(XI); UNGA Res 1178 (XII) (26 November 1957) UN Doc A/RES/1178(XII); UNGA Res 1248 (XIII) (30 October 1958) UN Doc A/RES/1248(XIII); UNGA Res 1375 (XIV) (17 November 1959) UN Doc A/RES/1375(XIV).

83  UNGA Res 1332 (XIII) (12 December 1958) UN Doc A/RES/1332(XIII); UNGA Res 1536 (XV) (15 December 1960) UN Doc A/RES/1536(XV).

84  UNGA Res 1904 (XVIII) (20 November 1963) (Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) UN Doc A/RES/1904(XVIII); UNGA Res 2647 (XXV) (17 December 1970) UN Doc A/RES/2647(XXV).

85  UNGA Res 36/55 (25 November 1981) UN Doc A/RES/36/55.

86  UNGA Res 40/125 (13 December 1985) UN Doc A/RES/40/125; UNGA Res 42/118 (7 December 1987) UN Doc A/RES/42/118; UNGA Res 44/61 (8 December 1989) UN Doc A/RES/44/61; UNGA Res 45/99 (14 November 1990) UN Doc A/RES/45/99; UNGA Res 47/128 (18 December 1992) UN Doc A/RES/47/128; UNGA Res 49/187 (23 December 1994) UN Doc A/RES/49/187.

87  UNGA Res 51/100 (12 December 1996) UN Doc A/RES/51/100; UNGA Res 53/154 (9 December 1998) UN Doc A/RES/53/154; UNGA Res 54/181 (17 December 1999) UN Doc A/RES/54/181; UNGA Res 55/109 (4 December 2000) UN Doc A/RES/55/109; UNGA Res 56/149 (8 February 2002) UN Doc A/RES/56/149; UNGA Res 57/224 (18 December 2002) UN Doc A/RES/57/224; UNGA Res 58/170 (22 December 2003) UN Doc A/RES/58/170; UNGA Res 59/187 (20 December 2004) UN Doc A/RES/59/187; UNGA Res 60/156 (23 November 2005) UN Doc A/RES/60/156; UNGA Res 61/168 (19 December 2006) UN Doc A/RES/61/168; UNGA Res 62/160 (18 December 2007) UN Doc A/RES/62/160; UNGA Res 63/180 (18 December 2008) UN Doc A/RES/63/180.

88  UNGA Res 48/132 (20 December 1993) UN Doc A/RES/48/132.

89  UNGA Res 1995 (XIX) (30 December 1964) UN Doc A/RES/1995(XIX).

90  See Wolfrum on Art. 56 (2nd edn) MN 5f; cf on the other hand Stoll on Art. 56 MN 27f.