Geneva (Jun. 16)
In the course of to-day’s examination of the French administration of the Mandated territories of Syria and Lebanon, the Permanent Mandates Commission touched on the future of French policy in these areas after the attainment of independence by the adjoining British mandated territory of Iraq and its admission as a member of the League of Nations, the J.T.A. representative learns. France is understood to have expressed her intention to follow the British example in Iraq, by enabling Syria and Lebanon also to attain independence, and become members of the League of Nations.
League of Nations circles view with a certain amount of uneasiness such a prospect which would mean that, with the exception of Palestine, there would be an end of the Class “A” Mandates. The effect of this would be that the Mandatory Powers would be released from the supervision and control of the League of Nations and from the so-called “open-door” principle, by which all nationals of States members of the League of, Nations and also of the United States, have equal rights in the mandated territories, while retaining important advantages for themselves by means of special treaties with their former mandated territories.
It is likely that Italy and other Powers will strongly oppose for this reason the proposal for the termination of these Class “A” Mandates.
The “open-door” provision referred to in the report occurs in Article 11 of the Iraq Mandate and Article 18 of the Palestine Mandate, where it is laid down that the Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination against the nationals of any State member of the League of Nations, including countries incorporated under its laws as compared with those of the Mandatory in matters concerning taxation, commerce, or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels, or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area. By a special Convention between the United States of America and Great Britain concluded in 1924 all the rights and benefits secured under the terms of the Mandate to members of the League of Nations and their nationals are also assured to the United States and its nationals notwithstanding the fact that the United States is not a member of the League of Nations.
THE MANDATE SYSTEM
The Mandate system was evolved by the Peace Conference in January 1919, and was afterwards incorporated into the League of Nations Covenant as a new conception and a novel political experiment in international affairs. Under the system the non-Turkish provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and the former German colonies in Africa and in the Pacific were placed under the mandatory administration of Britain, France, Belgium, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, respectively.
The “A” type of Mandate was applied to the former non-Turkish parts of the Turkish Empire, “which have reached a stage of development, where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by the Mandatory until they are able to stand alone”.
In Iraq, a treaty has been concluded between the Governments of Iraq and Great Britain, by which Iraq is to be admitted next year as a member of the League of Nations. In the case of the Mandate for Syria, it is expressly laid down that the progressive development of Syria and Lebanon as independent States is to be facilitated and local autonomy as far as possible encouraged. In Palestine, the only other territory under the “A” Mandate, “particular circumstances had to be taken into account in accordance with the Balfour Declaration, so that the Administration is to facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and to encourage settlement by Jews on the land, and the nationality law of Palestine is to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in the country”.
During the last meeting of the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations in November, M. Orts, one of the members of the Commission, doubted the ability of Iraq to govern itself. The report for 1929, he said, did not appear absolutely to confirm such an opinion. It contained, in fact, many statements which were far from expressing approval of the leaders and of the people in general. The report contained remarks which did not give a very favourable impression of the spirit prevailing among these people nor of the capabilities of their leaders. There was a still more striking point; he continued, namely, the lack of appreciation in Iraq of the immense services rendered to the country by the British advisers.
M. Rappard associated himself with the observations of M. Orts, pointing out that the minorities in Iraq were discontented and uneasy. The Commission of Enquiry instituted by the League of Nations Council to settle the question of the frontier between Turkey and Iraq, he recalled, had made a certain number of very definite suggestions, as was shown from the following passage in its report: “The territory must remain under the effective Mandate of the League of Nations for a period which may be put at 25 years. The Commission is convinced that if the League of Nations control were to terminate on the expiry of the four years Treaty now in force between Great Britain and Iraq, and if certain guarantees of local administration were not to be given to the Kurds, the majority of the people would have preferred Turkish to Arab sovereignty”. If the Mandatory Power were no longer to be able to fulfil its guarantees, owing to the fact that Iraq became independent, M. Rappard said, the Kurdish minority might perhaps have some cause for complaint. The Jewish minority was also referred to.
The question of the termination of a mandate is one of the important questions on the agenda of the present session of the Mandates Commission, adjourned from its last session in November.