The Executive Committee urges its member organisations to adopt statements similar to the following, to engage in programmes designed to strengthen the United Nations, and to communicate our concern to the national governments. The rapid deterioration in international relations which has, in recent months, brought the world perilously near war must cause grave concern. The terrible consequences of nuclear warfare and the utter futility of trying to settle political issues, however important, through military means should be obvious to anyone and have been appreciated by large numbers of people in many countries. Yet the world is apparently drifting towards this catastrophic situation. The confrontation of major military forces in Vietnam or other conflicts in areas of tension such as that between Indonesia and Malaysia (in which the super powers tend to get involved) are manifestations of this dangerous development. Responsible and sensible sections of people in all countries are dismayed, but apparently feel helpless to check this drift.
One symptom of this malady is the increasing lack of faith in the United Nations as an instrument of world peace and of the creation of world order. It is not new for the United Nations to be attacked by a super power, but there is now a growing tendency on the part of the more powerful nations to disregard it and to show it scant respect. Its vital role of peacemaking in crucial conflicts is denied to it by common consent among big powers. This has detracted from its prestige and decreased its effectiveness. The widespread benefits in the social, economic and educational fields which flow from UN activities are willingly accepted and their importance appreciated, particularly in the developing countries. But it will be an illusion to think that the UN, created in the image of a world community in response to the most cherished hopes of mankind for peace and cooperation, can survive merely as an institution designed for these services. It must be given unconditional and devoted support to realise its wider aims.
It is of the highest importance today that the voice of reason should be raised to check governments from drifting into disastrous war. Humanists have a special responsibility in restoring sanity in public thinking and in bringing the influence of public opinion to bear on government policies. Such policies, despite their idealistic claims, often framed on military considerations and to fulfil power needs of states, can be effectively fought by promoting the non-rationalist, universal outlook humanism upholds.
A campaign to strengthen the United Nations and to secure for it universal allegiance and active support must form part of efforts in favour of peace. Popular initiative asserting itself in support of the UN will be an effective means of changing today’s climate of apathy and dangerous drift. The IHEU appeals for such initiative and pledges its full support for it.
Board of Directors 1965
'Strengthening of United Nations', Humanists International, Board of Directors, 1965