The Korean War: Handbook of the Literature and Research

By Lester H. Brune; Robin Higham | Go to book overview

4 The United Nations and Korea

Lester H. Brune

The 1947 United Nations vote to supervise elections to unify Korea was hardly noticed amid the swirl of more prominent issues: the UN's partition plan to resolve the Jewish-Palestine Arab dispute, an investigation into the presence of foreign forces entering the Greek civil war, and the international control of atomic energy. Nevertheless, UN action on Korea in November 1947 became the first in a series of resolutions involving the organization, a series that finally made front-page headlines when war broke out on June 25, 1950.

Between 1947 and 1954, the General Assembly and Security Council played important roles in helping the United States to rally world opinion against communist aggression in Korea. UN activity regarding Korea began in 1947 when the General Assembly agreed to a U.S. proposal to sponsor national elections for an assembly to unify Korea. Over the next six years, the General Assembly agreed to recognize the South's Republic of Korea (ROK) in 1948, the Security Council acted to stop North Korea's aggression in June 1950, and the General Assembly approved the truce to end the war in July 1953. In most of these UN actions, the United States originated proposals that the Security Council or the General Assembly approved despite objections from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its allies.

Although the formation of the United Nations in 1945 had been heralded as a method to maintain global peace, the persistent differences between the United States and the U.S.S.R. after World War II made it impossible to obtain agreement on most UN activity, including specific methods to unite Korea, which the two superpowers had jointly occupied in September 1945. After the Soviet Union rejected several U.S. proposals for Korea's future during 1947, Washington decided to ask the UN to resolve the question. On the basis of a special UN committee report, the

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