Proposals to the United Nations for Charter Revision
Mr. Dag Hammarskjöld
Dear Mr. Secretary-General:
The Bahá'í International Community, in its capacity of an international nongovernmental organization, submits recommendations for revision of the Charter of United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
These recommendations constitute the considered views of the twelve* National Bahá'í Assemblies representing the Bahá'ís of Irán, India, Pákistan and Burma, Australia and New Zealand, 'Iráq, Egypt and Sudán, Germany and Austria, Italy and Switzerland, the British Isles, Canada, Central America, South America and the United States. Their participation unites a wide diversity of national, racial and religious backgrounds in one common concept of the structure needed to establish justice and peace.
In submitting its recommendations the Bahá'í International Community is concerned with the desperate condition into which the nations and peoples of the world have fallen. The seeds of destruction are sown within as well as without the present membership of United Nations. No minor and legalistic adjustment of the Charter, the Bahá'ís are convinced, can restore the supremacy of moral law in the conduct of human affairs nor seize control of events from the chaos which engulfs mankind. The Bahá'ís appeal to every enlightened and responsible statesman associated with United Nations to grasp, before it is too late, this providential opportunity to create a political organism commensurate with the new and unprecedented character of the world in our time.
The Bahá'í recommendations are based upon three apparent truths: that real sovereignty is no longer vested in the institutions of the national state because the nations have become interdependent; that the existing crisis is moral and spiritual as well as political; and that the existing crisis can only be surmounted by the achievement of a world order representative of the peoples as well as the nations of mankind.
The Bahá'í concept of world order is defined in these terms: A world Super-State in whose favor all the nations of the world will have ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. This State will have to include an International Executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on very recalcitrant member of the Commonwealth; a World Parliament whose members are elected by the peoples in their respective countries and whose election is confirmed by their respective governments: a Supreme Tribunal whose judgment has a binding effect even in cases where the parties concerned have not voluntarily agreed to submit their case to its consideration.
Since action by peoples as well as governments is essential, the Bahá'í recommendations include the proposal that consideration of revision by United Nations be accompanied by wide dissemination of the principles of international relations and the calling of peoples? conventions to register the general will.
Impossible as the achievement of world order may appear to traditionalist or partisan, mankind is passing through a crucial stage likened to that of an individual entering maturity and using new powers and faculties beyond the grasp of irresponsible youth. Unassailable is the position that any lesser international body represents a compromise with the forces of disaster and destruction.
In support of its thesis the Bahá'í International Community presents with this letter an annex citing references to the subject in Bahá'í writings, and an annex proposing specific revisions.
Bahá'í INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Bahá'í PROPOSALS TO THE UNITED NATIONS FOR CHARTER REVISION
THE experiences of the last decade have demonstrated the need for certain fundamental changes in the charter of the United Nations if that organization is "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war..., reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small; to promote social progress and better standards of living in larger freedom."
In order to insure the realization of the principles proclaimed in the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, that organization must be given real authority and military power to maintain Peace and uphold international Justice; it must operate in accordance with the principle of equality of nations large and small; it must become the guarantor of human rights, faith in which was so eloquently proclaimed in the Preamble.
The authors of the Charter foresaw a time when its terms would nee revision and provided, in articles 108 and 109, for changes and revisions. In this connection, the Bahá'í International Community submits, in addition to its statement of principle, a number of specific and general suggestions listed below.
I. Membership in the United Nations being an indispensable condition for the preservation of international peace, no nation should be allowed to leave the organization. It is therefore proposed that Article 6 of the Charter be amended to read:
A member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be subjected by the General Assembly, upon recommendation of the Security Council, to economic and other sanctions, and, in extreme cases, may be compelled by force to abide by the principles of the Charter.
II. In order to give the General Assembly more freedom of discussion, it is suggested that Article 12 of the Charter and all references to it which occur in any other Article (such as Articles 10, 11, 35, etc.) be eliminated.
III. It is suggested that membership in the General Assembly be apportioned according to some form of proportionate representation and Paragraph 1, of Article 18 of the Charter, be amended accordingly.
IV. The Principle of the equality of nations large and small, proclaimed in the Preamble, must not be disregarded or contradicted in any article of the Charter. Therefore, it is suggested that Article 23 be changed to read:
1. The Security Council shall consist of eleven Members of the United Nations elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years, no retiring member being eligible for immediate reelection.
2. Each member of the Security Council shall have one representative.
All reference to permanent members of the Security Council found in any of the articles of the Charter to be eliminated.
Decisions of the Security Council shall be made by an affirmative vote of seven members; provided that in decisions made under Charter VI [Ed. - Chapter VI?], and under Paragraph 3 Article 52, a party to the dispute shall abstain from voting.
Paragraph 3 of Article 27 to be eliminated.
VI. The maintenance of peace being a task incumbent upon all members of the United Nations, it is proposed that the first sentence of Paragraph 2, Article 47, be amended to read:
The Military Staff Committee shall consist of the Chiefs of Staff of the members of the Security Council or their representatives.
VII. In the interest of justice, it is proposed that Article 50 be amended to read:
If preventive or enforcement measures against any state are taken by the Security Council, any other state, whether a member of the United Nations or not, which finds itself confronted with special economic problems arising from the carrying out of those measures, shall have the right to ask the Security Council for a solution of its problems.
VIII. Having been written and adopted during the course of the Second World War, the United Nations Charter at times reflects the feelings and conditions which prevailed then and which do not exist any longer. It is inappropriate to perpetuate the use of the term enemy in relation to certain states must inevitably cooperate in the establishment and the maintenance of world peace. It is suggested that Paragraph 2 of Article 53, as well as references to "enemy states" in any other article of the Charter, be eliminated.
IX. In the interests of Justice, which is the only principle upon which the edifice of durable peace can be raised, it is proposed that the International Court of Justice be given compulsory jurisdiction in all legal disputes between states and Article 35 of the "Statute of the International Court of Justice" be amended to read:
1. The jurisdiction of the Court comprises all cases and all matters especially provided for in the Charter of the United Nations or in treaties and conventions in force.
2. The states parties to the present Statute declare that they recognizes compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement, the jurisdiction of the Court in all legal disputes concerning:
a. the interpretation of a treaty;
b. any questions of international law;
c. the existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute a breach of an international obligation
d. the nature or extend of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation;
3. In the event of a dispute as to whether the Court has jurisdiction, the matter shall be settled by the decision of the Court.
X. It is recommended that United Nations adopt a Bill of Rights, which guarantees to every individual freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of thought, as well as freedom from racial and religious discrimination, freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, equality of sexes, equality before law, equality of opportunity, and other basic human rights. The individual human being is a spiritual as well as a physical creation and the purpose of society is to provide for the evolution of spiritual qualities in a framework of unity sustained by law.