August 21

This Day in History

World War II

Aug 21, 1944:

The seeds of the United Nations are planted

On this day in 1944, representatives from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China meet in the Dumbarton Oaks estate at Georgetown, Washington, D.C., to formulate the formal principles of an organization that will provide collective security on a worldwide basis—an organization that will become the United Nations.

Following up on a promise made at the Moscow Conferences of 1943 to create an international organization to succeed the League of Nations, the Dumbarton Oaks Conference began planning its creation. Step one was the outline for a Security Council, which would be composed of the member states (basically, the largest of the Allied nations)—the United States, the USSR, China, France, and Great Britain—with each member having veto power over any proposal brought before the Council.

Many political questions would remain to be hammered out, such as a specific voting system and the membership status of republics within the Soviet Union. A more detailed blueprint for the United Nations would be drawn up at both the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and the San Francisco Conference, which would produce the U.N. charter, also in 1945.

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