The UN Charter Turns 70 Years Old This Week. Here’s The Story of How it Came to Life

The UN Charter turns 70 years old on June 26. This is the founding treaty that created the United Nations and in this episode you will learn the fascinating and legitimately entertaining history of that document and of the 1945 San Francisco Conference that produced it.

Ban Ki Moon and a number of international dignitaries are visiting San Francisco this week to commemorate the occasion, so I caught up with the writer Stephen Schlesinger, author of Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations who tells some great stories about the ideas, inspirations and personalities that created the document we now know as the United Nations Charter.

This conversation is in part a historiography of the UN Charter and a history of the San Francisco Conference. You’ll learn the odd reason why San Francisco was picked to host the conference; hear the curious etymology of the term “The United Nations”; and learn some of the big drama that unfolded as delegates tried to put the final touches on the charter. At one point, you’ll even picture Winston Churchill in the buff (it’s an important part of the story. Trust me!)

UN nerds, history aficionados and international affairs enthusiasts will love this episode.

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UN Charter Truman
Edward Reilly Stettinius, Jr., Secretary of State, Chairman of the delegation from the United States, signing the UN Charter at a ceremony held at the Veterans’ War Memorial Building on 26 June 1945. At left is President Harry S. Truman. UN Photo/Yould