On the Establishment of the United Nations
- Haakon 7 (1872–1957)
- 7. juni 1944
As we are approaching the end of this terrible war, we feel stronger than ever before, that we have a sacred duty towards our children, towards the new and coming generations.
This sacred duty is to see to it, that the world shall not again be plunged into such a catastrophe. We must do our utmost to create a system, where all the peace loving nations are collaborating to make peace secure.
It is therefore good to know, that statesmen are already at work on plans for a new and better international organisation on the base of that mighty and effective alliance, - the United Nations.
In this new organisation all nations, great and small, will have to play their part.
As this organisation must have the necessary forces at its disposal to prevent aggression, it is only natural that the Great Powers must exercise a measure of influence that is in accordance with their far greater responsibilities.
But we maintain that the small nations can make an important contribution, not only to the cultural and technical developments of the future, but to the political and even military developments as well. I think this war has given us the proof, that this is so.
The small nations were overrun by the Nazis. But by their fierce resistance, their valiant fight against overwhelming odds, each and every one of them upset to a certain extent Hitler¿s time-table, especially Norway, Greece and Yugoslavia. Thus valuable time was gained for the Allies.
When these small nations chose to fight instead of giving in, when they joined Great Britain at a period when she stood alone among the Great Powers in her fight against Nazi-Germany, they were far from representing only liabilities. Each and every one of them brought its contribution to the common war effort: Men, ships and raw materials.
Belgium and Holland brought their colonies with important resources, their shipping. Holland also its Pacific fleet, which played its important part in the initial fight to stop the Japanese from attacking Australia. The most important contribution of my own country, Norway, was its modern merchant fleet, the fourth largest in the world at the time, 1.100 ships and 25.000 valiant sailors. We have lost about half those ships now, and several thousand of our seamen have found their grave in the ocean.
A certain period of the war our modern tanker fleet played a vital role in the Battle of Britain in bringing a large quantity of that fuel, without which the Spitfires could not have brought the German Air Force its first defeat.
Later on, the Arsenal of Democracy, the United States of America, has produces weapons in such quantities, and the valiant Red Army has made such sweeping offensives, that our contribution may seem small in comparison. But at the time the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport, Mr Noel Baker, said: ¿The Norwegian tankers were to the Battle of the Atlantic what the Spitfires were to the Battle of Britain in 1840¿.
And a British shipping paper, ¿The British Motorship¿, wrote, that the Norwegian Merchant Fleet was worth 1 million soldiers.
And, speaking of contributions to the war, let me not forget, the moral and spiritual contribution of my brave people in occupied Norway. By its active resistance to all attempts at nazification, by their readiness to die rather than submit, this small Norwegian people has given an inspiring example to free men everywhere. They have shown us what we fight for; the right to be free, freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of thought, freedom of religion.
I believe, therefore, that it can be said, that the small nations have carried their burdens of war, they have made their contribution to the common effort of the United Nations.
This gives them the right to have their voice, when plans are worked out and decisions made on questions, which have a bearing on their future.
It is gratifying to know, that it has been solemnly laid down, that the basis of the new international organisation must be the sovereign equality of all powers, great and small.
It is evident that future international cooperation must be founded upon voluntary agreement between free peoples. For us Norwegians this war is indeed besides being a war for freedom and democracy a war for our sovereign rights, the right to be masters on own territory, masters of our own destiny.
This war has made the fatherland and the mother tongue, the country and the nation, a living reality in the minds of the Norwegian people, - that is why they insist on their sovereignty.
But it would be a profound mistake to believe, that this means that the Norwegian people has become Nationalistic in the bad sense of this word. On the contrary. Norwegians realise that the neutrality policy was a failure, - that neither Norway nor any other country can stand alone in the future.
We need international collaboration for the enforcement of law, to safeguard us against new attacks and assure us against mass unemployment and want.
I am convinced that when this war is over, you will find the free Norwegian people more ready than it ever was to enter into far reaching commitments with regard to international collaboration, ready to accept in full its responsibilities and its duties as a loyal member of the United Nations.
But we must be consulted, we must participate in the actual making of the decisions, not only be presented with accomplished facts.
We do not as for the small states the right to veto decisions or to paralyze the international organisation. We are prepared to let the great Powers play the leading role they have the right to play. But we insist on the sovereign equality of all states in that sense that our case should be heard from the very beginning, that we should have the right to take care of our interests and by partaking in the decisions have the possibility to exert our influence.
It is my firm belief, that a United Nations Organisation, based on these principles, will solve in a most satisfactory way the many problems involved in efficient international cooperation and thus lay the foundation for a peace organisation, that can spare mankind the horrors of war.