Statement of Consensus on the United Nations
We recognize that man possesses the ethical and spiritual capacities to create the universal human community called for by the prophets of the world's great religions. Through this consensus, designed to strengthen and implement the principles of the United Nations Charter, we call upon our members to reaffirm their commitment to the objectives and activities of the UN.
A. We reaffirm the major objective of the UN "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."
1. Disarmament. We support U Thant's assertion that "the greatest danger facing the world today is the nuclear arms race (which) has to be halted and reversed if humanity is to survive." We underline the conclusions of the UN Committee of Experts that were nuclear weapons "ever to be used in numbers, hundreds of millions of people might be killed, and civilization, as we know it, as well as organized community life, would inevitably come to an end in the countries involved in the conflict."
We hail the initial steps on the long road to general and complete disarmament: the establishment of a hot-line, nuclear-free zones in Antarctica, Latin America, and outer space, the partial test-ban treaty, and the non-proliferation treaty. We acknowledge the painstaking negotiation through the Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament and other bodies. We admit that the stockpiles of both conventional and nuclear arms have risen markedly, even while the nations have negotiated; and that five states have become military nuclear powers, and at least a dozen more, civilian nuclear powers. We call for these urgent next steps: a comprehensive test-ban treaty; the limitation, reduction, and elimination of offensive and defensive nuclear missiles; additional nuclear-free zones, including the sea-bed; and collateral measures registering and reducing conventional arms until there is general and complete disarmament under international control. These goals should be reached quickly, and in no way thwart the legitimate right of all nations to the peaceful uses of the atom. Savings resulting from disarmament measures can be applied to more constructive programs, both domestic and international. While there are risks to nation states that disarm, these are more than outweighed by the protection from nuclear destruction.
B. We reaffirm the objective of the UN "to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations" and "to develop friendly relations among nations."
2. Universal Membership
We recognize the necessity to include all states in the UN. The work of the organization has been distorted through the continued absence of the People's Republic of China. We favor the immediate inclusion of the People's Republic of China in the UN. We further urge that North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, and East and West Germany be admitted to UN membership in the belief that such membership will lead to a reduction of tensions in these divided areas.
We support the continuing efforts of the UN to meet the needs of refugees through the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Relief Works Agency assisting Palestinian refugees. We call upon Member States to broaden the High Commissioner's mandate which is presently limited to meeting the needs of refugees forced to seek haven outside of their original nation or territory. UN agencies should be given the power to assist refugees in all situations. We urge increased efforts by the UN to develop a permanent resettlement program for Palestinian refugees commensurate with their right of self-determination.
We commend the UN for its vital role in aiding many former colonial areas to achieve independence and nationhood. We endorse the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted in 1960, which asserts that "the subjection of peoples to alien subjection, domination, and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter, and is an impediment to world peace and cooperation."
Millions of Africans are still living under colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, and Southwest Africa. We call upon Portugal to grant immediate independence to her colonies. We urge application of in-creasing sanctions against Portugal and Southern Rhodesia.
We support UN resolutions that condemn South Africa's apartheid system as a "crime against humanity." We also condemn the tacit support given apartheid by the major trading partners of South Africa, i.e., United Kingdom, USA, Japan, West Germany, and France. We urge our governments to contribute generously to the UN Trust Fund for South Africa, the UN Educational and Training Program for South Africa, and the UN Trust Fund for refugees from Namibia (Southwest Africa) and the Portuguese territories.
We approve UN action calling upon South Africa to withdraw from Namibia and to permit the legal administration of the Territory, the UN Council for Namibia, to guide it to full independence.
C. We reaffirm the objective of the UN "to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character."
human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations, large and small."
We commend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1943, as "a common standard of achievement of all peoples and nations." We believe the drafting of this instrument was in itself a memorable and dramatic act of faith in man's capacity to develop a universal ethical code governing the behavior of nations and peoples, despite the broad diversity of cultural, religious, legal, social and economic systems. We rejoice that the Declaration has acquired high political and moral authority. We endorse the proposal of the Economic and Social Council for the election of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We urge ratification by all states of the two Human Rights Covenants—Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights—and Human Rights Conventions not yet ratified, especially on genocide, the political rights of women, anti-slavery, and forced labor.
We pledge our full support for the Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted in 1963. We urge all states that have not yet done so, to sign this Declaration and implement it promptly in their national statutes and practices. We urge that the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion and Belief be promptly adopted and ratified. This would ensure "the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and freedom to worship, teach and practice religion."
We support UN efforts to "ensure the most careful legal procedures, and the greatest possible safeguards for the accused in capital cases, where the death penalty obtains." We favor the abolition of the death penalty by all Member States.
E. We reaffirm the objective of the UN "to make effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression
7. Pacific Settlement of Disputes
The Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and other organs of the UN have had an impressive record of maintaining international peace in the face of civil war, international war, and other disputes. Immediate crisis situations call for improvement and extension of existing UN peacekeeping machinery. A cadre of UN observers should be formed and given the necessary logistical and political support. We commend those nations which have trained and made available stand-by forces, and urge that new forces be made available. We urge the creation of a professional UN peace-keeping force recruited from all nations and fully committed to the principles of the Charter. A new UN peacekeeping fund could be developed to which individuals, foundations, and nations could contribute. In all these measures, there must be an initial imaginative fulfillment of existing obligations by member states, using existing machinery, and the early devising of new machinery.
8. Role of International Law
Peace depends upon the progressive codification of time-tested international norms which even now provide the nations with the basic foundation for a world legal system. We commend the UN for its successful efforts to adopt rules of procedure in the Security Council, General Assembly, and the Specialized Agencies which, by providing a common "frame of reference," and "practice," enhance the development of international law.
We call upon our respective governments to demonstrate practical support for international law by regularly submitting disputes to the International Court of Justice for adjudication, and to agree to abide by Court decisions by adopting the Compulsory Jurisdiction clause of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. We urge faithful support and implementation of UN resolutions as a practical method of strengthening the enforcement powers of the UN.
9. The Role of the Secretary-General and Secretariat
The UN has been most effective whenever the Secretary-General has taken the initiative under Article 99 of the Charter to resolve disputes through mediation, conciliation and informal diplomacy. We concur with the recommendation of the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace that "members provide the Secretary-General with political advice and counsel in matters in which his personal diplomacy and initiative are crucial." We also urge Member States to provide the Secretary-General with the personnel, transport, and other logistical support so that he may effectively implement peacekeeping operations voted by the Security Council and the Assembly.
We support the Secretary-General's efforts to recruit international civil servants of the highest possible calibre, willing to give their full loyalty to the UN.
10. The Future
Although the Charter of the UN, like the constitutions of many states, is an imperfect instrument, we concur with U Thant's observation that the present Charter is "adequate," if Member States resolve to live up to its principles. We urge our respective governments to follow the recommendation of the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace calling upon all nations to "recognize that the Charter is a constitution and observance of its principles and use of its procedures is not a matter of choice or diplomatic convenience." We favor a liberal and dynamic interpretation of the Charter to permit the UN to meet new needs through the adaptation, improvement, and extension of existing bodies and procedures.
We are convinced that the future success of the UN depends upon the increased willingness of our own nations to yield a measure of national sovereignty to the world body in the interest of peace and security for all. We recognize our mutual responsibility for encouraging our respective governments fully to utilize the organs and procedures of the UN and the International Court of Justice to settle disputes.
We further call upon our governments to increase financial contributions to the world body, and particularly to the UN Capital Development Fund and the UN Industrial Development Organization. We note with alarm that only a tiny fraction of the funds spent by member states on armaments is used in support of the UN and its agencies. The UN may gain in effectiveness as it develops financial resources of its own.
The UN Charter can be amended and possible amendments should continue to be studied so that, as national sovereignty inevitably lessens a shrinking world, the strength of the UN, and especially of its peacemaking functions, can increase concomitantly.
Therefore we religious liberals resolve to rededicate our loyalties and energies in full support of the UN as it enters its second quarter of a century in 1970.
11. This Consensus
This Consensus is adopted by a virtually unanimous vote of the 1969 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of North America consisting of a broadly representative group of laymen and ministers. This consensus reflects a substantial preponderance of opinion, although not necessarily unanimity on all points, of the majority of delegates present at the General Assembly. This may, or may not, represent a majority of members of our local churches and fellowships. Since this denomination cherishes and recognizes both congregational polity and the freedom of individual members, this consensus presumes to speak neither for all delegates to the 1969 General Assembly nor for all members of our Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships. We recognize that strong differences of opinion may exist on specific questions among sincere and thoughtful Unitarian Universalists, notwithstanding our underlying unity and our common religious affiliation.