Lecture Notes






































Principles of the UN Charter

50 Countries signed the UN Charter in 1945.

The founding document of the UN is the UN Charter. In practical terms, the Charter serves as the UN’s constitution. It lays out the organization’s goals, principles, functions, and duties, and describes its constituent parts. Since all member states have signed it, it is legally binding on all 193 member states. It is, without doubt, the closest thing we have to the “Supreme Law of the World.”

In 1945, representatives from 50 nations met in San Francisco and signed the UN Charter. By the end of the year, a majority of these countries had ratified the charter, and the United Nations was formed. Seven years later, in 1952, the UN moved into its present headquarters located on the banks of the East River in New York City.

The UN Charter is based on four fundamental principles:


Check Your Understanding

  1. What is the founding document of the United Nations?  
  2. What UN document is roughly equivalent to the UN’s constitution?
  3. True or False: The UN Charter is basically the “constitution” of the UN, and therefore can be considered to be the “supreme law in the world.”
  4. True or False: The UN Charter is basically a list of international laws that every country in the world has agreed to.
  5. True or False: Every member of the UN is legally obliged to follow the “laws” found in the UN Charter.