From April to June 1945, delegations from 50 nations attended the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco (often known as the San Francisco conference). Their task was to write a charter acceptable to all of them. The delegations were assisted in this historic effort by a large number of staff, advisers, and consultants.
Rotary International was one of 42 organizations the United States invited to serve as consultants to its delegation at the San Francisco conference. Each organization had seats for three representatives, so Rotary International’s 11 representatives served in rotation. The people officially representing Rotary included the general secretary, the editor of The Rotarian, and several past presidents. Other Rotarians from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America served as members of their own nations’ delegations. Rotarians also served as consultants to their national delegations.
Throughout the rest of 1945, The Rotarian and other publications kept Rotary members informed about issues and developments related to the new organization. Editorials and articles clarified issues, provided additional insights and talking points, and updated readers on what was happening and the people involved.
Just before the meetings began, Rotary International published and distributed the “Pattern for the San Francisco Conference” pamphlet. “It is a splendid opportunity for the individual Rotarian to fulfill the objective of International Service,” the document proclaimed, “by taking part in the debate on this scheme of world government.”
After the UN was established, the 95-page booklet “From Here On!” contained the exact text of the UN Charter on one side of every two-page spread with annotations and questions designed to stimulate discussion on the other. With this layout, Rotarians could use it to learn and lead club discussions.
The Charter, it explained, would be effective only if “free citizens” worldwide were determined to give it vitality. “The Rotarian faithfully following these pages,” the booklet said, “will find himself treading the path to service.”
In 1946, Rotary published a supplement listing the major accomplishments of the meetings held by the UN General Assembly in January and February of that year. Later articles in The Rotarian kept the United Nations and its work on the minds of members.
Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status offered to a nongovernmental organization by the UN’s Economic and Social Council, which oversees many specialized UN agencies. The Rotary Representative Network maintains and furthers its relationship with several UN bodies, programs, commissions, and agencies. This network consists of Rotary International representatives to the United Nations and other organizations.