The Atlantic Charter was a joint statement issued by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, and the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, on August 14, 1941, during World War II. The statement outlined the goals of the Allied powers in their war effort and was considered a pivotal moment in the formation of the post-war world order.

The Atlantic Charter was based on the principles of self-determination, freedom of the seas, disarmament, and the establishment of a permanent system of general security. It also called for the creation of a post-war organization that would ensure international cooperation and the protection of human rights.

The Charter was not a binding agreement, but it provided a framework for the Allies to work together and was later used as a basis for the creation of the United Nations. The Atlantic Charter has been seen as an important step towards the establishment of a rules-based international system and the promotion of democracy and human rights.

Document / archive

Gill MacDonald (1884-1947), The « Time & Tide » Map of the Atlantic Charter, 1942
  • The Atlantic Charter is reproduced in full in the text at the top, dominating the map.
  • The continents abound with symbols of agriculture and industrial raw materials. Some of these were particularly important to the war effort: copper, iron, manganese, petroleum, and rubber. But most were simply symbolic of the free and equal trade promised by Article 4 of the Charter.
  • Otherwise, open spaces are filled with hopeful quotes from Aristotle, Cicero, Emerson, Pope, and Isaiah’s call to beat swords into plowshares, illustrated by a bare-chested worker doing just that. In short, the map is an optimistic view of a peaceful, sunny future « after the final destruction of Nazi tyranny » (Article 6), epitomized by Gill’s trademark sunburst emerging from the Charter to enlighten the world.
  • The signatures of Roosevelt and Churchill are a bit of artistic license. The two met in person on Roosevelt’s ship, the Cruiser Augusta, but the final negotiations between them and edits to the draft continued by radio after Churchill had returned to the British battleship Prince of Wales. As a result, there was in fact no signed Charter document at the time; indeed, there was no single formal document until the principals had returned home and cabled final acceptance.


  • Atlantic Charter
  • Self-determination
  • Disarmament
  • Human rights
  • Binding Agreement