National Sovereignty

June 12, 1945

Report Outline
Sovereignty and World Organization
Sovereign Power and Constitutional Process
Sovereignty at San Francisco

Sovereignty and World Organization

Roosevelt and Truman on National Sovereignty

The charter for a world security organization, when submitted to the Senate for its consent to ratification, will be closely scrutinized to determine its precise effects upon sovereign powers of the United States. Resolutions of the House and Senate in 1943, which recommended United States participation in a new league for peace, stressed continued observance of sovereign rights and of the constitutional processes of individual states. In all steps preliminary to the meeting of the present United Nations conference at San Francisco care was taken to emphasize that there would be no derogation of the sovereignty of nations which become members of the proposed world organization.

Events of the last twenty years have shown that no nation, through single-handed exercise of its sovereign powers, has been able to protect its people against either war or economic depression. Close international cooperation to deal with political and economic problems after the war commands almost universal support. “Unfettered exercise of sovereign rights,” remains an appealing slogan, but there is increasing recognition that old concepts of sovereignty may need adjustment to modern conditions. The difficulty is where to draw the line between ancient sovereign rights which must be relinquished if peace is to be preserved, and those which must be retained if the nations of the world are not to be blended into one super-state.

President Roosevelt's “blueprint for a United Nations organization,” made public at the White House, June 15, 1944, contained no direct reference to national sovereignty, but the President was careful to point out that “we are not thinking of a super-state with its own police force and the paraphernalia of coercive power.” He thus sought to meet in advance one of the arguments that led to rejection by the Senate after the first World War of the United States membership in the League of Nations.

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