6-110 Radio Address on the United Nations, September 14, 1947

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 14, 1947

Subject: Postwar

September 14, 1947
New York, New York

TO open United Nations Week, sponsored by the American Association for the United Nations and other organizations, Marshall delivered a thirty-four-hundred-word address to a national audience over the National Broadcasting Company’s network from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City beginning at 4:30 p.m.

In order to appreciate the world’s problems, Marshall began, Americans ought to follow closely the General Assembly session opening on September 16. Since the broad outlines of US foreign policy were determined by the country’s citizens, they needed a clear understanding of the United States’s role in the United Nations. The country was faced with numerous baffling but important foreign policy issues, and its citizens needed to reach conclusions “firmly based upon fact and upon mature reflection and realistic consideration of the issues involved.” To achieve this, the public needed the type of leadership provided by the organizations sponsoring UN Week.

In addition, the public needed to understand the organization’s limitations. “We make a grave error to suppose that every international problem should be handled by the United Nations.” Most international issues were settled by agreement between the interested parties—as the UN charter said they ought to be. Informed citizens should also understand the functions of the organization’s specialized agencies (e.g., the International Refugee Organization).

“Our faith in the United Nations has its roots in the basic moral values and spiritual aspirations of the American people.” Marshall delineated eight principles guiding US conduct toward the United Nations. The United States ought to: (1) “faithfully live up to our obligations under the Charter”; (2) make its public acts consistent with the Charter; (3) refer to the United Nations those problems “which have failed of solution by other peaceful means”; (4) work persistently and loyally within UN agencies toward successful accomplishment of their tasks; (5) seek to improve the organization’s procedures and machinery and join with other members in providing the necessary resources; (6) join with other members to make clear that “aggression against the territorial integrity or political independence of others will be resisted” by the members’ combined efforts; (7) make every possible effort to conclude the remaining peace treaties; (8) join others in “seeking to improve the world’s economic situation, to bring about the economic conditions necessary to international stability.”

“There is genuine danger that our hopes of two years ago will give way to skepticism” regarding the value of the United Nations, the secretary stated, specifically noting the difficulties of the Greek and Palestinian issues. Marshall then warned Americans against their traditional impatience. “The problems of peace require moral courage and stern determination but they also demand patience and deliberation if we are to find a common agreement upon which a lasting peace can be found.” He reminded Americans of the difficulties attendant upon their own constitutional development. “We should be neither surprised nor discouraged if time and great effort are required to move forward.” (GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Secretary of State, Speeches].) *

Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Mark A. Stoler, Sharon Ritenour Stevens and Daniel D. Holt (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 2013- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 6, “The Whole World Hangs in the Balance,” January 8, 1947-September 30, 1949 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), pp. 208-209.