The United Nations: a Prospectus

The General Assembly

GOVERNMENT," said Alexander Hamilton, "ought to contain an active principle." Political institutions which advance the welfare of their human constituents achieve an internal state which is cohesive and dynamic and produce an external environment which is sympathetic and receptive. Those are the conditions needed for survival and growth.

The United Nations Organization is charged with positive tasks. That at least gives it a chance to be potent in the world. Whether the chance is realized will depend primarily upon the General Assembly. The rôle of the Security Council is predominantly negative. Its task is to stop the nations from public brawling. But it has no mandate to change the conditions which make brawls likely.

By contrast, the General Assembly, directly or through its Economic and Social Council, is charged: to promote international coöperation in economic, social, cultural, educational and health fields; to assist in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and, in this connection, to establish a Commission on Human Rights; to promote higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development; to coördinate the policies and activities of what the Charter calls "specialized agencies," such as the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization; to promote the development and codification of international law; to recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any situation likely to impair the general welfare or friendly relations among nations; to deal with colonial trusteeships for non-strategic areas; and, generally, to discuss any matter within the scope of the Charter -- thus assuming the rôle of a "town meeting of the world," where public opinion is focused as an effective force.

The foregoing list is not complete, but it is enough to give an impression of the vast range of opportunities opened up to the Assembly. Also, it is enough to make apparent that the Assembly is given a tempting invitation to

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