I was looking at the list of founding members of the United Nations, and I was surprised to see that India is in that list.

India was a part of the British Empire in 1945 and became independent only in 1947.

So how did it become a founding member of the UN? Who represented India at the United Nations Conference on International Organization? Who signed the Charter, and how did the Indian Government ratify this charter?

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    Most of the British Empire were not considered part of the United Kingdom itself. So while the colonies might be fully (like India) or partially (like AU/NZ/CAN) under the control of London, they were also countries (though not sovereign states) in their own right. It's an elaborate way of saying that whenever it was politically expedient to do so, the British government could put/allow one of its overseas possessions to act "independently" on the international stage.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 14:28
  • It is worth noticing that on this official UN list, Pakistan and Bangladesh are not mentionned as successor states of the founding member India, unlike e.g. Czech Republic and Slovakia who are listed as the successor states of the founding member Czechoslovakia.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 8:19

3 Answers 3


According to this page on Wikipedia,

India was one of the original members of the League of Nations. In principle, only sovereign states can become UN members. However, although today all UN members are fully sovereign states, four of the original members (Belarus, India, the Philippines, and Ukraine) were not independent at the time of their admission. India signed the Declaration by United Nations on 1 January 1942 and was represented by Girija Shankar Bajpai who was the Indian Agent-General at the time. Afterwards the Indian delegation led by Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar signed the United Nations Charter on behalf of India during the historic United Nations Conference on International Organization held in San Francisco, United States on 26 June 1945. Sir A. Ramaswamy Mudaliar later went on to serve as the first president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Technically, India was a founding member in October 1945, despite it being a British colony. India, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were all British colonies but were given independent seats in the United Nations General Assembly. India gained full independence in 1947.

I know that Belarus and Ukraine were granted seats in the UN even though they were part of USSR because Stalin wanted more seats (and votes) in the UN. I am not entirely sure, but maybe there was a similar case for India and Britain as well. Or perhaps, it was foreshadowing of the coming era of decolonization.

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    "Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were all British colonies". This is false, these countries were independant dominions of the British Empire. They entered the war by themselves.
    – MasB
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 3:26
  • @BernardMasse: Although Australia accepted that honour (being an independent dominion) only in 1942, and retroactively then declared that four provisions took effect as of Sep. 3, 1939, just subsequent to the declaration of war on Germany by the U.K. - see here: history.stackexchange.com/questions/11526/… Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 3:45
  • @Pieter_Geerkens: It could be argued that Australia didn't become fully independent until the passing of the [Australia Act] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Act_1986) by the both the Australian and UK governments in 1986, when the UK lost the ability to make laws for Australian States. The Statute of Westminster, which Australia adopted retroactively in 1942 removed the UK's ability to make laws for the Commonwealth of Australia, but did not mention mention anything about preventing the UK's abilities toward Australia's State laws.
    – Fred
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 4:45

Short answer: India was an original signatory of the Atlantic Charter, which was was unveiled in a "Declaration of United Nations" on January 1, 1942.

This was an eclectic group of some 26 countries that included the following: 1) the Big 4, U.S., U.K., the Soviet Union, and China; 2) a number of small Latin American countries in Central America and the Caribbean close to the U.S.; 3) a number of "captive" nations under German rule with governments in exile, such as the "Benelux" countries, and several countries of eastern and northern Europe and 4) several British Commonwealth countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and South Africa.

One can argue that India was a "captive" nation (of Great Britain) but it was one of the signatories of the declaration.

These signatories later formed the core of the United Nations.


The reason is that ...during August offer(1940) india was given autonomy...that is why itz became the founding member of UNO and itz name was given to Atlantic charter due to this Autonomy...

  • 1
    I don't think this answer is wrong, but we usually expect answers here to be more than a sentence or two, and to provide references/links for all non-trivial assertions. For example, the current top-rated answer here has only 4 sentences, but with a supporting link, and a quote. That small amount extra was enough. Take care of that, and we should be able to remove this post note.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 17:43
  • The different status of India compared to other Brithish colonies which weren't independnet dominions, like Kenya, Jamaica or Gold Coast, and how it affected the question, would make an interesting answer.
    – Pere
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 18:23
  • 1
    India didn't become a dominion until 1947, so I'm not sure what 'autonomy' you are thinking of in 1940. To the best of my knowledge, the last major piece of UK legislation prior to that was the Government of India Act 1935. Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 18:48

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