The Charter of the United Nations is the founding document of the UN. It was signed on 26 June 1945, in the Herbst Theater auditorium in San Francisco at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegates from 50 nations signed the UN Charter, establishing the world body as a means of “saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
I was born during a particularly difficult time in history. There was trouble brewing almost everywhere in the world. Axis troops invaded Yugoslavia while German Nazi troops marched into Athens and invaded the USSR. The Japanese would soon bomb Pearl Harbor causing the United States to join the Allies. I didn’t know much about it at the time but I later discovered just what a mess things were when I arrived. The year was 1941.
As the horrors of World War II drew to a close in 1945, nations were in ruins and the world wanted peace. Representatives of 50 countries gathered at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, California from April 25 thru June 26, 1945. For two months, they proceeded to draft and then sign the UN Charter that created the United Nations, a new international organization they hoped would prevent another world war like the one they had just lived through.
Among the very first correspondents accredited by the UN was the 42-year old Jewish journalist David Horowitz who would spent over a half-century working tirelessly for the establishment and well being of the State of Israel, and promoting the higher purpose of the United Nations.
Today’s UN is different. In effect for over 77 years, it is now being debated whether it is effective anymore. It is criticized for being outdated and should be updated with policies to reflect the present-day world. Critics claim the UN has been ineffective in recent years because of the structure of the Security Council, lack of involvement in important global situations, and the difference in priorities between its actors. Much of the criticism is likely fitting, however, there was a time in world history that such a body might have prevented even more hell from breaking loose.
In 1992, the year I first met David Horowitz, he wrote a press article expressing the view that “had such an organization as the United Nations existed in 1914 and again in 1939 the world might have been spared the untold horrors and agonies of World War I and II.”
He felt that such an international body could have prevented a local incident-the assassination of a rather unknown Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo on June 10, 1914-to have developed into a bloodbath engulfing all mankind without a desperate effort to stop it. Nor he contended, could a world body have permitted a paranoid corporal, set on conquest and mass murder, to infringe upon the sovereignty of neighboring countries and spark a holocaust that almost destroyed civilization in World War II.
In his article “If Not For The UN,” Horowitz defended the world body he called the “Parliament of Man,” that graced the banks of the East River in the international city of New York, while admitting that it was not perfect and had many shortcomings.
In the light of the many troubling spots in the world at the time-the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Cyprus, and Lebanon, to name a few-he felt the UN was trying hard to cope with the mushrooming crises. He cited the many peacekeeping operations that had been set in motion in efforts to quell current civil unrest and skirmishes and prevent those brushfires from becoming conflagrations.
Interestingly, the very first UN peacekeeping operation arose from the Arab-Israel war in 1948. It was given the name of “UN Truce Supervision Organization” (UNTSO) by the Security Council, which on May 29, 1948, adopted Resolution 50. The first group of observers arrived in the region in June of the same year.
UN documents listing the many peacekeeping operations around the world stated: “Over the years UNTSO has made available its personnel to assist in the setting up of other UN peacekeeping operations not connected with the Arab-Israel conflict. The rapid deployment of experienced UN observers has been most valuable in setting up operations in the Congo (ONUC) in 1960; in Yemen (UNYOM) in 1963; in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP); in El Salvador (UNISAL); in Cambodia (UNTAC); and in Somalia (UNOSOM).”
Using several of these examples, Horowitz reminded the many readers “it must be recognized that If not for the UN, the Pakistan-India war on Kashmir might have engulfed all of Asia. If not for the UN, the Congo could have turned into an inferno involving the two super powers and most of Africa. If not for the UN, Turkey and Greece would have ignited the fuse to the powder keg that was Cyprus with impending Big Power intervention threatening world peace. If not for the UN, the Middle East in 1947-48 would never have evolved as it did with the State of Israel intact through UN Truce and Armistice Agreements.”
Concluding his remarks, Horowitz stated, “If not for the UN, the Suez crisis in 1956 and the later flare-up in June of 1967 may well have developed into global conflicts. In short, the United Nations, despite its brief span of existence, has managed to quench numerous brush fires on the world scene that might have spread into global conflict.”
David Horowitz was a part of the long history of the United Nations beginning at its inception. He reported on almost every aspect of the UN, particularly the Middle East, and on human rights issues. Once asked about his more than 50 years at the world organization and his view of the UN in this dawn of the new millennium, he replied: “The ideal of the United Nations could be the future of the world, it is not an accidental development. It exists to promote international co-operation. The assembly of nations is still in its infancy. What is a mere 50 years in the course of millenniums of history involving continuous wars with the fall and rise of empires?’ he asked.
Horowitz stated, “One must bear in mind that this world organization was born out of the holocaust of World War II. Prior to the advent of the UN, each nation went its own way. There was no common understanding among them on the basic needs of humanity: on matters of human rights versus exploitation, on health, children, food, technology, women’s rights, labor, etc. Today, at least, a beginning has been made.”
He felt the United Nations emerged from a dark and frightening period of human history for a distinct purpose and that the foundational precepts of international peace and security, justice, human rights, responsible social and economic development, and responsible stewardship of our planet and its environment stood as core principles as reflected in its Preamble and Charter.
Yet, he saw the flaws and they were many. He often would say that the UN was just a model that would serve its time and its purpose, a Parliament of Man seeking the ideals of justice and peace, but only a dim precursor of future change.
He found it no surprise that all the UN peacekeeping operations were inspired by and modeled after the Jerusalem-based UNTSO, the first such act of the UN. Stressing the point that Israel had a major role to play on the world stage, he felt that perhaps someday Jerusalem was destined to finally become the City of Peace as predicted by the Prophets of old, and from Zion the long awaited peace and blessings would finally flow to a weary world.