The UN Charter:

The full charter is available at (http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/).

After the bloodshed and destruction of World War II, the victorious Allied states pledged that history would not repeat itself and, toward that end, agreed to establish a new global organization that would be set up with the goal of preserving peace among nations. In 1945, at the San Francisco Conference, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China jointly agreed upon the terms for the charter of what would soon thereafter become the United Nations. Signed by 51 states, the charter formally entered into force on October 24, 1945.

The U.N. was unlike its predecessor, the League of Nations, in one crucial respect: While the league had no enforcement powers, the U.N. was set up to ensure that its mandates would be followed. Specifically, the charter laid out a collective security system through which the Security Council-made up of the leading powers of the United Kingdom, China, France, the U.S.S.R., and the United States-could determine when a threat to or breach of international peace and security had occurred and, to remedy the situation, impose binding measures (economic, military, or other) against the offending state.

Soon after the U.N. came into effect, the Cold War broke out. For several decades, the Security Council was plagued by infighting between the U.S.S.R. and the United States-each vetoing those resolutions supported by the other. As a result, the enforcement mechanisms of the Security Council were not practically available. This all changed when the Cold War came to a close.

The U.N. Charter is binding law in the United States. Under Article 6, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, treaties-of which the U.N. Charter is one-are considered the supreme law of the land. Article 103 of the U.N. Charter makes clear that the charter supercedes all other conflicting treaties. It says: "In the event of conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."

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