Skip to main content
signing the charter

Although the League of Nations did enjoy some remarkable political success in the 1920s, the increasing economic strife and militant nationalism which characterized the 1930s led not only to the breakup of cooperation between States but also to several conflicts which could not be easily resolved.

Powerful States such as Germany, Italy, and Japan left the organization, and by the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, many had abandoned the League of Nations and its unfulfilled promise of collective security, and had instead returned to the traditional system of defensive alliances and power blocs.

Birth of the United Nations

The United Nations came into existence progressively during the Second World War.

On 12 June 1941, the representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa and of the exiled governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and of General de Gaulle of France, met at the ancient St. James’ Palace and signed a declaration. The sentences of what is known as the Declaration of St. James' Palace still serve as the watchwords of peace: “The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security; It is our intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace, to this end.”

A few months after, US President Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Churchill met in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and on August 14 1941 the two leaders issued a joint declaration destined to be known in history as the Atlantic Charter. The document declared, “of certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.”

 

On New Year's Day 1942, representatives of 26 countries fighting the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, decide to affirm their support by Signing the Declaration by United Nations. This important document pledged the signatory governments to the maximum war effort and bound them against making a separate peace. This was the first time that the term “United Nations” was officially used.

In October 1944, the representatives of China, Great Britain, the USSR and the United States met in Dumbarton Oaks. The discussions ended with a proposal for the structure of the world organization. According to the Dumbarton Oaks agreement, four principal bodies were to constitute the organization to be known as the United Nations: the General Assembly, composed of all the members, the Security Council of eleven members (5 permanent and 6 chosen from the remaining members by the General Assembly), the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariat. An Economic and Social Council, working under the authority of the General Assembly, was also provided for. The Dumbarton Oaks proposal was submitted by the four powers to all the United Nations governments and to the peoples of all countries for their study and discussion.

The last points were settled at the Yalta Conference, where the San Francisco Conference was summoned.

Long live the United Nations

The United Nations Charter was signed on 26 June 1945, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, which took place in San Francisco.

The United Nations came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States and a majority of the other 51 signatory states ratified it (meaning that it was approved by their congress or parliaments).

Four years of planning and the hope of many years had materialized in an international organization designed to end war and promote peace, justice and better living for all mankind.

The last Assembly (the twenty-first) of the League of Nations took place in Geneva from 8 to 18 April 1946. In his final speech, Lord Robert Cecil, one of “fathers” the League of Nations’, proclaimed that the efforts of those who had established the League were not lost, because without them the new international organization, the United Nations, could not exist. Lord Cecil ended his speech with the words: “The League is dead, long live the United Nations!”

Timeline of events

In the midst of the Second World War, representatives from allied governments (Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa) and the exiled governments (Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia, France) met in June 1941 at St. James’s Palace in London. The declaration they signed there includes these striking words, “The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security”...“It is our intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace, to this end.” 

FULL TEXT: 

INTER-ALLIED MEETING Held in London at St James's Palace on June 12, 1941  

RESOLUTION 1 

 The Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the Government of Belgium, the Provisional Czechoslovak Government, the Governments of Greece, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia, and the Repre- sentatives of General de Gaulle, leader of Free Frenchmen, Engaged together in the fight against aggression, Are resolved:

1. That they will continue the struggle against German or Italian oppression until victory is won, and will mutually assist each other in this struggle to the utmost of their respective capacities;  

2. That there can be no settled peace and prosperity so long as free peoples are coerced by violence into submission to domination by Germany or her associates, or live under the threat of such coercion;  

3. That the only true basis of enduring peace is the willing co-operation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security; and that it is their intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace to this end.

Discover the full history of the Inter-Allied Declaration: The Declaration of St. James's Palace

Two leaders issued a joint declaration destined to be known in history as the Atlantic Charter. This document was not a treaty between the two powers. Nor was it a final and formal expression of peace aims. It was only an affirmation, as the document declared, “of certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.”

Coming from the two great democratic leaders of the day and implying the full moral support of the United States, the Atlantic Charter created a profound impression on the embattled Allies. It came as a message of hope to the occupied countries, and it held out the promise of a world organization based on the enduring verities of international morality.

That it had little legal validity did not detract from its value. If, in the ultimate analysis, the value of any treaty is the sincerity of its spirit, no affirmation of common faith between peace-loving nations could be other than important.

Find out more about the Atlantic Charter

Representatives of 26 countries fighting the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, decide to affirm their support by Signing the Declaration by United Nations. This important document pledged the signatory governments to the maximum war effort and bound them against making a separate peace.

On New Year’s Day 1942, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, Maxim Litvinov, of the USSR, and T. V. Soong, of China, signed a short document which later came to be known as the United Nations Declaration. The next day the representatives of twenty-two other nations added their signatures. This important document pledged the signatory governments to the maximum war effort and bound them against making a separate peace.

Three years later, when preparations were being made for the San Francisco Conference, only those states which had, by March 1945, declared war on Germany and Japan and subscribed to the United Nations Declaration, were invited to take part.

Original UN Declaration Signatories

The original twenty-six signatories were:  the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, Union of South Africa, Yugoslavia

Subsequent Signatories

Subsequent adherents to the Declaration were (in order of signature): Mexico, Philippines, Ethiopia, Iraq, Brazil, Bolivia, Iran, Colombia, Liberia, France, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon.

 

Text of the Declaration:

The Governments signatory hereto,

Having subscribed to a common programme of purposes and principles embodied in the Joint Declaration of the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, dated August 14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter, Being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is es- sential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world, declare:

1. Each Government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite Pact and its adherents with which such government is at war.

2. Each Government pledges itself to co-operate with the Govern- ments signatory hereto and not to make a separate armistice or peace with the enemies.

The foregoing declaration may be adhered to by other nations which are, or which may be, rendering material assistance and con- tributions in the struggle for victory over Hitlerism.

 

Read the full history of the UN Declaration

“We are sure that our concord will win an enduring peace. We recognize fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.”

By 1943 all the principal Allied nations were committed to outright victory and, thereafter, to an attempt to create a world in which “men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.” But the basis for a world organization had yet to be defined, and such a definition came at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union in October 1943.

30 October 1943:  Moscow 

The United States Secretary of State, the venerable Cordell Hull, made the first flight of his life to journey to Moscow for the conference. On October 30, the Moscow Declaration was signed by Vyacheslav Molotov, Anthony Eden, Cordell Hull and Foo Ping Shen, the Chinese Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

1 December 1943:  Teheran

In December, two months after the four-power Declaration, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, meeting for the first time at Teheran, the capital of Iran, declared that they had worked out concerted plans for final victory.

 

Declaration of the Three Powers

We—The President of the United States, The Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the Premier of the Soviet Union, have met these four days past in this, the capital of our ally, Iran, and have shaped and confirmed our common policy.

We express our determination that our nations shall work together in war and in the peace that will follow.

 

As to war—Our military staffs have joined in our round table discussions, and we have concerted our plans for the destruction of the German forces. We have reached complete agreement as to the scope and timing of the operations which will be undertaken from the East, West and South.

The common understanding which we have here reached guarantees that victory will be ours.

And as to peace—we are sure that our concord will make it an enduring peace. We recognize fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations, to make a peace which will command the good will of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the world, and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.

With our diplomatic advisers we have surveyed the problems of the future. We shall seek the cooperation and the active participation of all nations, large and small, whose peoples in heart and mind are dedicated, as are our own peoples, to the elimination of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance. We will welcome them, as they may choose to come, into a world family of democratic nations.

No power on earth can prevent our destroying the German armies by land, their U-boats by sea, and their war plants from the air.

Our attack will be relentless and increasing.

Emerging from these friendly conferences we look with confidence to the day when all peoples of the world may live free lives, untouched by tyranny, and according to their varying desires and their own consciences.

We came here with hope and determination. We leave here, friends in fact, in spirit and in purpose.

Signed at Teheran, Iran, December 1, 1943

 

The Dumbarton Oaks Conference constituted the first important step taken to carry out paragraph 4 of the Moscow Declaration of 1943, which recognized the need for a postwar international organization to succeed the League of Nations.

The principles of the world organization-to-be were thus laid down. But it is a long step from defining the principles and purpose of such a body to setting up the structure. A blueprint had to be prepared, and it had to be accepted by many nations.

“We are resolved,” the three leaders declared, “upon the earliest possible establishment with our Allies of a general international organization to maintain peace and security… “We have agreed that a Conference of United Nations should be called to meet at San Francisco in the United States on the 25th April, 1945, to prepare the charter of such an organization, along the lines proposed in the formal conversations of Dumbarton Oaks.”

One important gap in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals had yet to be filled: the voting procedure in the Security Council. This was done at Yalta in the Crimea where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, together with their foreign ministers and chiefs of staff, met in conference. On February 11, 1945, the conference announced that this question had been resolved, and it summoned the San Francisco Conference.

Read the full history of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference

In April - June 1945, representatives of fifty countries congregated in San Francisco to hold the United Nations Conference on International Organization. Those delegates deliberated to constitute the United Nations Charter in accordance with the proposals given by the delegates of the major Allied powers amid the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in August - October 1944.

Subsequent to the lengthy discussions, the Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 by the delegates of the countries. Poland, not represented at the Conference, signed it soon after and became one of the original fifty-one Member States. The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a majority of other signatories.

See the photo gallery

Learn the Full history of the San Francisco Conference

Nansen Passport

From the League of Nations to the United Nations

The headquarters of the United Nations was established in New York City. On 1 August 1946, the Palais des Nations, originally built to be the seat of the League of Nations, was transferred to the United Nations. It became the headquarters of the “European Office of the United Nations” the following year.

Many of the activities of the League of Nations were transferred the United Nations. The Health Organization paved the way for the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nutrition Committee became the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Committee of Intellectual Cooperation paved the way to the Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The work of the Nansen Office was continued the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) – founded in 1943, then became part of the United Nations in 1945. This work evolved into the International Refugee Organization in 1947. In 1951, this Organization was replaced with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with its headquarters in Geneva and more than 50 field offices throughout the world.

Charter of the United Nations

The Charter of the United Nations is the founding document of the United Nations. It was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization. In many countries the Charter had to be approved by their congresses or parliaments. It had therefore been provided that the Charter would come into force when the Governments of China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States and a majority of the other signatory states had ratified it and deposited notification to this effect with the State Department of the United States. On 24 October 1945, this condition was fulfilled and the United Nations came into existence. The Statute of the International Court of Justice is an integral part of the Charter.

The charter is the founding document of the United Nations and a multilateral treaty. It has been amended three times in 1963, 1965, and 1973.

Read the full Charter of the United Nations

Treaties, conventions and international agreements

The following include a selection of the major treaties, conventions and international agreements which have been partially, or entirely negotiated by United Nations entities in Geneva.

At the end of the Second World War, the international community vows never to allow such atrocities again. World leaders agree to complement the UN Charter with a “universal bill of rights.” The Commission on Human Rights, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, is charged with drafting the document. The 18 members of the Commission are from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Two years later, the UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948 in Paris. The core principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is embodied in Article 1, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. 

1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

Rights of Child poster

The League of Nations- predecessor to the United Nations- adopted the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, recognizing “that mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give”. The United Nations built on this international agreement with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, in 1959, with the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the first UN statement devoted exclusively to the rights of children. The General Assembly unanimously passed the Declaration, which says, “The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.” Thirty years later, the principles laid out in the Declaration will become the basis for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

PREAMBLE

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,

Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth,

Whereas the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children,

Whereas mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,

Now therefore,

    The General Assembly

    Proclaims this Declaration of the Rights of the Child to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organizations, local authorities and national Governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles:

      Read the full Declaration

      More information about the Convention on the Rights of the Child

       

      Since its inception, one of the goals of the UN has been to avert nuclear war. In January 1968, a group of States under the auspices of the Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament, met in Geneva to negotiate a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The draft treaty, called the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, was then considered by the General Assembly, which adopted the text in resolution 2373. By this treaty, the non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and, in exchange, are promised access to assistance in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, while nuclear-weapon states pledge to carry out negotiations relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. A total of 190 parties have joined the landmark international agreement, including the five nuclear-weapon States. More countries have ratified the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons than any other disarmament agreement.

      Read the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, A/RES/2373(XXII)

      The World Food Summit was called in response to the continued existence of widespread undernutrition and growing concern about the capacity of agriculture to meet future food needs. In 1974, governments attending the World Food Conference had proclaimed that "every man, woman and child has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to develop their physical and mental faculties." The Conference had set as its goal the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition within a decade. For many reasons, among them failures in policy making and funding, that goal had not been met. FAO estimated that unless progress was accelerated, there could still be some 680 million hungry people in the world by the year 2010, more than 250 million of whom would be in sub-Saharan Africa.

      The objective of the Summit was to renew global commitment at the highest political level to eliminating hunger and malnutrition and to the achievement of sustainable food security for all people. In the event, the high visibility of the Summit has raised awareness among decision-makers in the public and private sectors, in the media and with the public at large. It has also set the political, conceptual and technical blueprint for an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries with an immediate view to reducing to half the number of undernourished people by no later than the year 2015.

       

      Read the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition

      1975 was proclaimed to be International Women's Year by the General Assembly in resolution 3011(XXVII) of 18 December 1972. The objectives of the year were “to promote equality between men and women, to ensure the full integration of women in the total development effort, and to recognize the importance of the increasing contribution of women to the development of friendly relations among States and the strengthening of international peace.”

      The year culminated in the World Conference of the International Women's Year held in Mexico City from 19 June to 2 July 1975. One hundred and thirty-three governments participated, while 6,000 NGO representatives attended a parallel forum, the International Women’s Year Tribute. The conference's outcome document, The Report of the World Conference of the International Women's Year, contains the Declaration on the Equality of Women and their Contribution to Development and Peace and a defined World Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Women’s Year. Later in the year, the General Assembly in resolution 3520(XXX) would reaffirm the results of the conference.

       

      Read the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace

      On 25 November 1981, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

      The General Assembly of the United Nations, considering that one of the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations is that of the dignityand equality inherent in all human beings, and that all Member States have pledged themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, proclaims this Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

      Read the full Declaration

      In 1974, scientists published their first scientific hypotheses that chemicals produced by humans were harming the stratospheric ozone layer. The ozone layer protects the earth against excessive ultraviolet radiation, which can damage human, plant, and animal cells. Efforts of the United Nations Environment Programme led to the signing of a treaty designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances. The Treaty on the Protection of the Ozone Layer was adopted on 16 September 1987. The Montreal Protocol, as it is known, and its predecessor, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer are the first and only global environmental treaties with universal ratification. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2014, “Without the Protocol and associated agreements, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased ten-fold by 2050. Concerted action has prevented millions of cases of skin cancer.”

      Read the full 16/09/1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

      UN Security Council 1992

      At a time of momentous change, the first summit-level meeting of the United Nations Security Council was held on 31 January, 1992. The meeting reaffirmed the central role of the Security Council in maintaining world peace and upholding the principle of collective security as envisioned in the United Nations Charter.

      The first Security Council Summit, with leaders from all fifteen Security Council members in attendance, was held in New York. At the summit, the Council invited Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to prepare recommendations on ways to strengthen the UN's capacity in the areas of preventative diplomacy, peace-making, and peacekeeping. In June, the Secretary-General presented “An Agenda for Peace" to the members of the UN. In addition to an analysis of the current peace and security framework employed by the UN, the Secretary-General added the new concept of post-conflict peace-building. Peace-building in the aftermath of conflict would be "action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict." He wrote," These four areas for action, taken together, and carried out with the backing of all Members, offer a coherent contribution towards securing peace in the spirit of the Charter."

      The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is so organized as to be able to function continuously, and a representative of each of its members must be present at all times at United Nations Headquarters.

       

      Read the full Agenda for Peace Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping

       

      The Conference on Disarmament (CD) began its substantive negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty in January 1994 within the framework of an Ad Hoc Committee established for that purpose. Although the CD had long been involved with the issue of a test-ban, only in 1982 did it establish a subsidiary body on the item. Disagreement over a mandate for that body blocked tangible progress for years.

      The Treaty was negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament located in the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

      Australia, along with 127 co-sponsors, introduced a resolution containing the Treaty text to the General Assembly on 9 September. The General Assembly voted 158 in favour of the Treaty on 10 September 1996, with three countries against (Bhutan, India and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and five abstentions (Cuba, Mauritius, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon and the United Republic of Tanzania).

      The Depositary of the Treaty, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, formally opened the Treaty for signature on 24 September 1996. Following the United States, the other four nuclear weapon states, China, France, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation all signed the Treaty that day in New York. By the end of the day, another 66 States had signed the Treaty and taken the first steps towards making the commitment never to conduct nuclear tests of any kind anywhere on Earth.

       

      Read the full history of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

      ​The creation of the Rome Statute in 1998 was in itself a historic event, marking a milestone in humankind's efforts towards a more just world.

      The Rome Statute then took effect in 2002, upon ratification by 60 States. In addition to founding the Court and defining the crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and – as of amendments made in 2010 – the crime of aggression, the Rome Statute also sets new standards for victims' representation in the Courtroom, and ensures fair trials and the rights of the defence. The Court seeks global cooperation to protect all people from the crimes codified in the Rome Statute. 

      Today the treaty serves as the ICC's guiding legal instrument, which is elaborated in such other legal texts as the Elements of Crimes, Rules of Procedure and Evidence and more.

      Explore the ICC core legal texts