When 50 countries met in April 1945 in San Francisco, the US city on the shores of the Pacific, to discuss a new world order and to sign the UN Charter of the United Nations in June of that year, sovereignty African countries hardly exist.
Four African countries still reached San Francisco: the Kingdom of Egypt, the Ethiopian Empire, the Republic of Liberia and the Union of South Africa, as they were then known. Most other countries on the continent were still under colonial rule.
Each of these four African countries was affected in one way or another by the recently ended World War II, especially Ethiopia and the Union of South Africa.
At the conference, the African countries wanted to contribute to the construction of a new international framework that would help prevent future wars and crises that could threaten the existence of the smaller and poorer countries.
They also strongly advocated at the meeting that the new world order envisaged be recognized and respected.
“We, the smaller nations of the world, have been asked to take part in this conference, not only because of the identity of ideals that bind us to the great powers in the present struggle and our particular interest in ensuring a lasting peace. , but also because the guarantee of the free and independent existence of the small nations of the world must be based on any future world organization, “said Mr. Tewelde Medhen, the Ethiopian minister of the United States, in his solemn speech told the delegates.
Ethiopia’s insistence on the interests of small nations to be recognized and protected by the new international law was understandable from her experience of the war and what the country saw as the failure of The League of Nations – the forerunner of the United Nations – considered to prevent and end Italian invasion.
Liberia, on the other hand, was not directly involved in the world efforts, except as the then largest producer in the world, providing ‘rubber to the allied cause’, said CL Simpson, the vice president.
Yet Liberia has expressed the same concern as Ethiopia ‘because they do not have the means to wage war, the dreams and hopes of small nations are only of world peace and the security of their rights and independence’, said Mr. Simpson said.
Membership of the UN Security Council and the veto provisions of its permanent members were also discussed during the meeting. And countries like Egypt were concerned about the consequences of the veto power granted to some countries – one of the controversial issues discussed in San Francisco.
In this regard, Egypt has registered in vain, and its opposition to the move by arguing that ‘allowing powers, large or small, to serve as a judge and jury in its own case, does not contribute to building global trust that necessary for the success of a world order plan “.
But to sum up what he believed was the real interest in designing a new international order; The Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, Jan Smuts, noted that the new Charter should not simply be a legal document to prevent war.
“The Charter contains at the outset and in its preamble a declaration of human rights and of the common faith which the Allied peoples endorsed in their bitter and protracted struggle for the justification of those rights and that faith,” said Mr. Smuts said. .
Although his proposals, although included in the Charter, would remain out of reach for millions of people across the continent, including in his own country where there was racial discrimination and apartheid, and across the continent where large parts of the country were without self-representation.
Although none of the four African countries mentioned ‘self-determination’ in their respective addresses to the meeting, the Charter they were to sign contained provisions in Chapters 11, 12 and 13 that would pave the way for the decolonization of the continent.
African delegates at the 1945 San Francisco Conference on International Organization
HY Abdul Hamid Pasha Badawi, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chairman
HE Ibrahim Bey Abdul Hadi, Minister of Public Health
HY Mahmoud Pasha Hassan, United States Secretary of State
Bitwodded Makonnen Endalkachau, Prime Minister; Chairman
Ato Aklilou Abte-Wold, Deputy Foreign Minister
Ato Ambai Wold-Mariam, Deputy Minister of Justice
Mr Blatta Ephrem Tewelde Medhen, United States Secretary of State
Ato Emmanuel Abraham, Director-General, Ministry of Education
Ato Menasse Lemma, Director-General, Ministry of Finance
CL Simpson, Vice President; Chairman
Gabriel L. Dennis, Secretary of State; Co-chair
Lemuel Gibson, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
South Africa (Union of South Africa):
Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, Prime Minister; Chairman
DD Forsyth, Secretary of External Affairs
Leif Egeland, Minister of Sweden
HT Andrews, Under Secretary of External Affairs; Head of the South African Government Supply Mission, Washington
R. Jones, Acting Recognized Representative of the Union of South Africa, Ottawa
JR Jordaan, Interim Charge, South Africa, Legation, Washington
DL Smit, former Secretary of Native Affairs
LE Orkin, Industrial Registrar, Department of Labor
Sources: UN archives: (https://ask.un.org/faq/199031), UNTV – 14 French countries in Africa that gained independence in 1960: http://webtv.un.org, UN Charter: https: //www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/