Defining International Aggression
The Search for World Peace

The United Nations Conference
on International Organization
Doc. 2 (English)
May 1, 1945

Observations of the Czechoslovak Government on the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals

The Government of the Czechoslovak Republic is in full agreement with the statement of the Crimea Conference that the earliest possible establishment of a general international organization for the maintenance of peace and security is essential, both to prevent aggression and to remove the political, economic, and social causes of war through the close and continuing collaboration of all peace-loving peoples. The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals certainly constitute an excellent basis for the deliberations of the forthcoming San Francisco Conference; and the Czechoslovak Government expresses its heartiest thanks to the Powers whose representatives have accomplished such valuable preparatory work. These Proposals, together with observations and suggestions presented by other Governments, will enable the Conference to deal thoroughly with all aspects of the problems involved and to achieve results which will be beneficial to the future collaboration of all peace-loving States.

Moved by the sincerest desire to contribute to the success of the Conference, the Czechoslovak Government submits the following observations and suggestions.


The Dumbarton Oaks Proposals are dominated by the idea that the maintenance of international peace and security can best be secured by a single organ capable of rapid deliberation and swift decision. They therefore place primary responsibility in this respect on the Security Council and invest it with the widest powers. Chapter VI (B) (2) states only that "the Security Council shall act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Organization". Chapters I and II which enumerate these purposes and principles are, therefore, of the utmost importance and the Conference will certainly submit their contents to a very exhaustive and careful examination.

The Czechoslovak Government agrees that the new Organization should possess the widest powers and should retain sufficient flexibility to be capable of organic growth and of mastering any situation that may arise. Past experience has proved sufficiently that rigidity and over-elaborate definitions may not always produce the desired results. Nevertheless, there are, in the opinion of the Czechoslovak Government, certain fundamental principles which should be expressly included in the Charter of the new Organization. The discussions at the Conference will reveal the general feeling of the delegations on this important subject. It seems to the Czechoslovak Government that these principles should at least include, in addition to those already mentioned in Chapters I and II of the Proposals, the observation of international law and of treaty obligations; and, further, respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of States-members.

Should the Security Council come to the conclusion that international peace and security can be maintained only by measures not in conformity with these fundamental principles, and especially by territorial changes, the matter should be laid before the Assembly. At the request of any party to the dispute, the question shall also be laid before the Assembly. In these cases the Assembly should decide by a two-thirds majority vote.

The council shall always have the right and the duty to take all conservatory measures necessary for the maintenance of peace and security.


Chapter VIII (A) refers to the pacific settlement of disputes. The Czechoslovak Government is of the opinion that this very important Chapter deserves several observations:

1) It is certainly desirable and necessary that for this preventive action the Security Council should be given as much power as possible. The Czechoslovak Government understands, however, that the Council should intervene only when, and after, all other means of pacific settlement convened beforehand or agreed ad hoc by the parties, have been exhausted. Paragraphs (3) and (4) seem to justify this interpretation. Paragraph (3) stipulates that the parties should obligate themselves, first of all, to seek a solution by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, or judicial settlement, or other peaceful means of their choice. And paragraph (4) binds the parties to refer their dispute to the Council only if settlement by other means has failed. But paragraph (5) may create some confusion, because it gives to the Council the right to intervene at any stage of the dispute. It is true that according to paragraph (1) this intervention is to be limited to the determination "whether the continuance of the dispute is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security". What is the meaning of this restriction? Is it to be understood that while a special procedure is in progress the Council should limit its intervention to the recommendation of conservatory measures proper to the elimination of any threat to peace and security? The Czechoslovak Government would advocate this interpretation. The main issue of the dispute should be settled, first of all, by the special procedures and the Council should undertake such a settlement only when, and if, the parties fail to find a solution by the special means indicated. The wording of paragraph (5) should, therefore, be redrafted in order to make clear the different nature of the intervention of the Council during, and after, the special procedures.

2) The Czechoslovak Government notes with satisfaction that all the provisions of Chapter VIII (A) refer only to disputes "likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security". This seems a reasonable and necessary limitation. The obligation of the Council to examine, in each case, whether a dispute falls within this category, will prevent, it is hoped, any attempt to encumber the Comcil with minor affairs, or to misuse it by presenting it with artificial claims and disputes.

3) The role to be given to the International Court of Justice seems, to the Czechoslovak Government, a matter of far-reaching importance. The Court has certainly proved a very valuable institution and its activity should be not only maintained but developed and extended as far as possible. Paragraph (6) provides that "justifiable disputes should normally be referred to the International Court of Justice". It is suggested that the word "normally" should be omitted. If there are any doubts whether a given dispute is "justifiable" or not, the Court itself should decide by a preliminary statement. The reference to the Court by the Council of "legal questions connected with other disputes" should be regarded as a matter or procedure.

4) Paragraph (7) stipulates that the Council should not deal with matters which, by international law, are solely within the domestic jurisdiction of the State concerned. This provision is certainly well-founded and will be welcomed particularly by smaller States. They will rightly see in it an important guarantee against the possibility of interference in their internal questions. If there is a difference of opinion as to whether a given question falls within the domestic jurisdiction, it should be considered a judicial dispute and therefore referred for decision to the International Court of Justice.


The Czechoslovak Government welcomes particularly the Proposals contained in Chapter VIII (B) relating to the "determination of threats to the peace or acts of aggression, and action in respect thereto,". In addition to the preventive action of Chapter VIII (A), here is the second pillar of the whole edifice. The authors of Dumbarton Oaks, having in mind the bitter experience of the past, have endeavored to construct it of solid material. They propose to give to the Council as much power as possible. Paragraph (2) provides rightly that the Council should be able not only to make "recommendations" but to "decide" upon measures to be taken to maintain or restore peace and security. Here again, the drafting is very general and no precision is given, so that the Council will be practically free to take any measure which it might consider necessary. This complete freedom certainly has the advantage of enabling the Council to adapt its action to any situation. Yet it remains a question whether this absence of any rule of conduct will still be of advantage when the case seems absolutely clear, and when only the application of previously defined rules would seem to guarantee action sufficiently swift to prevent an unscrupulous aggressor from creating, in his own favor, a situation the redress of which may prove very lengthy and very difficult. In the past, the Czechoslovak Government has concluded with several other Governments a Convention for the definition of the term "aggressor". Article 2 of this Convention had the following text:

"The aggressor in an international conflict shall, subject to the arrangements in force between the parties to the dispute, be considered to be that State which is the first to commit any of the following actions:

    1). Declaration of war upon another State;

    2). Invasion by its armed forces, with or without declaration of war, of the territory of another State;

    3). Attack by its land, naval, or air-forces, with or without declaration of war, on the territory, vessels, or aircraft of another State;

    4). Naval-blockade of the coasts or ports of another State;

    5). Provision of support to armed bands formed in its territory which have invaded the territory of another State, or refusal, notwithstanding the request of the invaded State, to take in its own territory all the measures in its power to deprive these bands of all assistance or protection."


Chapter VIII (C) concerning regional arrangements will prove very useful for the promotion and the strengthening of international peace and security. The needs of certain regions may be different and peculiar, involving situations which can best be handled by regional conventions and agencies. It seems clear, however, that it will be absolutely necessary to ensure the compatibility of such conventions by placing them within the general framework of the World Organization. Dumbarton Oaks provides rightly that they should be "consistent with the purposes and principles of the Organization". It stipulates further that "no enforcement action should be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council". The Czechoslovak Government considers that such authorization should be given in advance and as a general rule for cases of immediate danger where the suspension of any coercive action until the intervention of the Security Council may cause irremediable delays. The measures taken in these cases could be submitted subsequently for approval to the Council.


The arrangements for International Economic and Social Co-operation (Chapter IX), and in particular the creation of a special Economic and Social Council, deserve the fullest approval. Future peace and security depend in an ever-increasing measure on general economic and social progress, which can be attained only by constant and friendly international interchange and collaboration. Before this war, and even during hostilities, numerous international organizations and agencies have done valuable work in this respect. It seems very important to bring them all together and to create a new central organ with sufficient authority for general direction and co-ordination. The countries which suffered most from enemy occupation or from the progress of hostilities will be among the most anxious to share in this economic and social collaboration. They face a difficult and dangerous period of transition and re-adaptation. The new central organ may prove very useful in bringing about the speedy return to normal and acceptable conditions throughout the world.


Chapter X gives to the new Secretary-General the important right and duty of bringing to the attention of the Security Council any matter which, in his opinion, may threaten international peace and security. This may be very useful in situations where Governments may hesitate to take action because of diplomatic or other considerations. The Secretary-General and his chief advisers will therefore bear a heavy responsibility.

The choice of this personnel will certainly be affected with the utmost care and caution. There is, however, every reason to believe that the best men will be available. Experience has proved that whatever may have been the causes of the failures and disappointments of recent international institutions, they were certainly not due to the personnel. The staff of international organizations have shown in general a high degree of efficiency and moral standing. They have been valuable promoters of that true international spirit and solidarity which must be of the greatest advantage to any new organization.

April 25, 1945

Source: Observations of the Czech Government on the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, The United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, April 25-June 26 1945, Doc. 2, G/14(b), May 1, 1945, pp. 466-471.
Editorial Note: This is a true copy of the above-referenced original document. This document is reproduced in Benjamin B. Ferencz's work "Defining International Aggression - The Search for World Peace", Vol. 1, as Document No. 17 (b).

The digital publication and distribution of this work by Equipo Nizkor has been authorised by the author on a not-for-profit basis. This is a free distribution electronic edition prepared by Equipo Nizkor.

This electronic edition may not be copied or reproduced in any format or by any means without the express consent of Equipo Nizkor.

© 2013 Equipo Nizkor


Contents Vol. 1 | Contents Vol. 2


Published online by Equipo Nizkor - 26 March 2013