This Day in International Law: April 25

Photo Credit Sanjit Bakshi

By Leyla Karimzadeh

On April 25, 1945, delegates from fifty nations met in San Francisco, California. The United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO) took place from April 25th to June 26th, when nations signed the United Nations Charter, the United Nations’ foundational treaty.

The name United Nations was first used by President Roosevelt in 1941 to describe the countries fighting against the Axis during World War II. The United Nations was created to maintain international peace and cooperation among nations in the aftermath of World War II. However, the United Nations was not the first international organization created to accomplish these goals. Under a very similar set of circumstances, its predecessor the League of Nations was created after World War I. In 1920 forty-eight countries joined the League. Unfortunately, the League of Nations ultimately failed and disappeared when World War II broke out.

The United Nations has had a more successful story. In 2015 the United Nations celebrated its 70th anniversary. Its mission is to maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, deliver humanitarian aid, promote sustainable development, and uphold international law. The development of international law has been a major part of the United Nations’ work.

Since its creation in 1945, the United Nations has had to evolve and adapt to many challenges. The second half of the twentieth century has seen the beginning and the end of the Cold war, the decolonization process, humanitarian and financial crises, and numerous wars. The international organization will have to face many challenges in this century too, starting with climate change and displaced populations, as well as internal crises.