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The Veto and the Charter: An Interpretation for Survival

By Myres S. McDougal and Richard N. Gardner


When the United Nations Security Council in late June, 1950, condemned the armed attack upon the Republic of South Korea as a breach of the peace and called upon member nations to help repel the invaders, an important new landmark was established in world politics. For the first time in history, a world organization had launched a campaign of collective action to put down aggression and establish peace under international law. This action of the Security Council, approved and supported by the overwhelming majority of the United Nations, gave the peoples of the world hope, above all else, that their organization would survive and contribute to the major purpose for which it was established—\u22to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.\u22 Rarely has an act of aggression been so clear-cut or the issues so well-defined. These issues can be best understood in the light of events in Korea following the surrender of Japan. The Soviet Union consistently refused to implement joint agreements for the establishment of a unified and independent Korea. Instead, it treated the boundary at the 38th parallel, which was adopted for surrender purposes only, as a permanent division of the country and worked to establish exclusive control in the Northern zone. The United States, finding agreement impossible, put the problem of Korea before the United Nations. A United Nations Commission, established to hold free elections throughout the country, was never permitted to enter North Korea. Nevertheless, elections under its authority were held in the South. They produced a government which was found by the General Assembly to represent the free will of the electorate and which was designated the only lawfully existing government in Korea. Then, on June 25, 1950, without warning and without provocation, the forces of North Korea launched an offensive which subsequent events have confirmed as a \u22premeditated, well-prepared, and well-timed plan of aggression.\u2

Topics: Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 1951
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