1945 August 8

President Truman Signs United Nations Charter


President Harry Truman on this day signed the United Nations Charter. The principal civil liberties implications of U.S. membership in the U.N involve the various human rights declarations and conventions subsequently adopted by the U.N. When the U.S. ratified the Convention Against Torture on October 21, 1994, for example, its prohibition of torture became U.S. law. This had particular relevance for the abusive interrogation tactics, which many regard as torture, used by President George W. Bush’s administration in the war on terror.

The other major U.N. human rights documents include the Convention Against Genocide (adopted by the UN on December 9, 1948 and ratified by the U.S. on November 4, 1988), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (adopted by the UN on March 30, 2007 and not approved by the U.S. on November 5, 2013), and Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (adopted by the UN on December 18, 1979 but still not ratified by the U.S.).

The Preamble to the UN Charter (excerpt): “We the Peoples of the United Nations Determine… to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to 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, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. . . . ”

Read the United Nations Charter: https://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/intro.shtml

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