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Definition: Atlantic Charter from Philip's Encyclopedia

Joint declaration of peace aims issued in August 1941 by US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It affirmed the right of all nations to choose their own form of government, promised to restore sovereignty to all nations, and advocated the disarmament of aggressor nations.

from Encyclopedia of United States National Security

Joint declaration issued by British prime minister Winston Churchill and U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 9, 1941, setting out a set of common principles directed against Nazi aggression and aimed at creating a better future for the world. Because Roosevelt had been a member of the presidential administration of Woodrow Wilson, many observers considered the Atlantic Charter to be Roosevelt’s version of the Fourteen Points, a doctrine put forward by Wilson to promote international peace.

In August 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt convened a meeting aboard the U.S. naval cruiser August, anchored off the coast of Newfoundland. The declaration set out two main goals: the destruction of Nazism and the subsequent establishment of a “one world” system in which nations would work to disarm themselves and move toward a peaceful society. At the time of the meeting, the United States had not entered into World War II; it would not do so until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Roosevelt nevertheless issued the joint statement to demonstrate U.S. solidarity with its ally Great Britain and to appeal to the American public for greater support for the war through idealistic and purposeful language.

The Atlantic Charter was intended to garner broad international support for the fight against Nazism, but the Soviet Union ultimately refused to sign because of differences over specific language in the charter. Despite this setback, the charter served as a guiding document for the Allies’ grand strategy during and immediately following World War II.

    See also
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D., and National Policy; World War II

Copyright © 2006 by Sage Publications, Inc.

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