June 1, 1945 – with the war over in Europe, and the war continuing in the Far East, the matter of Peace was being tackled, sooner rather than later. And even then, the road was bumpy. News for this day reported on the Middle East, in the grips of an Independence movement, feeling long-simmering resentments and frustrations, getting ready to explode in yet another series of conflicts.
The issue of Independence was brought up by Philippines President General Carlos Romulo, who urged the assembly to consider adding it to the United Nations Charter, which was in the process of being drawn up. Romulo, a fervent believer in the Independence movement, held a press conference earlier in the day, and said “those of us who come from the Philippines are interested in this issue; not for ourselves, our independence is settled and is a closed matter, but for the millions who have no voice at this conference. They cannot speak, but they form part of this one world. Someone has to speak for these people. It may be a lost cause, but I want to go on record having spoken for them here and now.” Gen. Romulo insisted that it was very important that the word Independence be mentioned in the right place in the charter, and not just in the section dealing with the Trusteeship system. Conference committees working on the Trusteeship angle have argued back and forth about Independence as differentiated from Self-Government, and both words had been approved for inclusion in the Trusteeship Chapter of the Charter. But Romulo wanted Independence certified in other chapters of the charter as well. He made it clear that he didn’t mean Self-Government. To Romulo, that word could be lost in phrases he termed “High-sounding, but empty”. He said that self-government was by no means Independence and that he was interested in one peace for one world. And peace like freedom was indivisible. Self-government still meant colonial rule, with directives still maintained by the government in charge . Romulo was adamant that independence be an integral part of the United Nations, and he along with the Philippine Delegation, were prepared to hold out until the very end for guarantees Independence would be included.
Ironically, General Romulo’s Press conference and stance on Independence came at a time when the Middle East was in the process of exploding. This time it was Syria. French troops moved to quell rioting in Damascus. Syria protested, saying the French had violated their sovereignty by moving on to Syrian soil. France reacted by saying it had every right to be there as it was a point at when French troops were shipped to the Far East for fighting in the war still going on in the Pacific. France had been a presence in Syria for years as a result of the mandate power giving them power over the state. But the Syrians said they had been granted independence from the Mandate and that they wanted it to be real and actual independence. The fighting since stopped in Damascus as it was reported some 400 people were killed. Britain stepped into the dispute to protect the allied communications lines to the Far East. And the U.S. backed up the British stand. But even though the fighting had ceased, General DeGaulle ordered the troops to stay in their positions.
This was a situation that demanded further exploration as it was clear the independence movement was taking shape. How France handled the Syrian issue was of extreme importance as it could set the tone for similar situations to happen in the future.
And that a slice of what was going on the rest of the world on this June 1st, 1945 as reported by United Nations News Service.