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Monday, April 15, 2013

Clement Attlee: The Atlantic Charter

Clement Attlee gave this speech at the conference of International Labor Organisation representing the British government.

We do not envisage an end to this war save victory. We are determined not only to win the war but to win the peace. Plans must be prepared in advance. Action must be taken now if the end of the war is not to find us unprepared. But the problems of the peace cannot be solved by one nation in isolation. The plans of a post-war Britain must be fitted into the plans of a post-war world, for this fight is not just a fight between nations. It is a fight for the future of civilization. Its result will affect the lives of all men and women -- not only those now engaged in the struggle.

It is certain that until the crushing burden of armaments throughout the world is lifted from the backs of the people, they cannot enjoy the maximum social well-being which is possible. We cannot build the city of our desire under the constant menace of aggression. Freedom from fear and freedom from want must be sought together.

The joint expression of aims common to the United States and the British Commonwealth of Nations known as the Atlantic Charter includes not only purposes covering war but outlines of more distant objectives.

It binds us to endeavor with due respect to our existing obligations to further the enjoyment by all States, great and small, victors and vanquished, of access on equal terms to trade and raw materials which are needed for their economic prosperity. In addition it records our desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing for all labor standards, economic advancement and social security. But it is not enough to applaud these objectives. They must be attained. And if mistakes are to be avoided, there must be the closest international collaboration in which we in the United Kingdom will gladly play our part.

We are determined that economic questions and questions of the universal improvement of standards of living and nutrition shall not be neglected as they were after the last war owing to the preoccupation with political problems. The fact is that wars do not enrich but impoverish the world and bold statesmanship will be needed if we are to repair the ravages of war and to insure to all the highest possible measure of labor standards, economic advancement and social security to which the Atlantic Charter looks forward.

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