Geneva (Jun. 18)
The approaching termination of the British Mandate for Iraq, with Britain recommending Iraq’s admission to membership of the League of Nations as an independent State, while retaining special British rights in Iraq through a British-Iraq Treaty, and the possibility of France adopting a similar course with regard to the French mandated territories of Syria and Lebanon, leaving Palestine and Transjordan as the only remaining Class “A” Mandates (the question was discussed according to the information of the J.T.A. representative in Geneva, at the meeting of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations – reported in the J.T.A. Bulletin of the 18th. inst.), has created considerable uneasiness here, particularly, (as foreshadowed in the J.T.A. Bulletin of the 18th. inst.) in Italian official circles, and it is understood here that Iraq may counter the project by putting forward a proposal that the League of Nations should take away the existing mandates for Syria, Palestine and Transjordan from France and Britain respectively, and instead set up a new international control over these areas exercised by the League of Nations direct by means of a special commission, on which France, Britain, Italy and Germany would be represented.
The exclusion of the Mandatory Power as such, and the administration of the mandated areas through an international League of Nations Commission on which Italy would also be represented, will result; the Italians hope, in giving Italy her long-desired opportunity of obtaining a sphere of influence in the Near East, and thus helping to consolidate her position in the Mediterranean. Italy is understood to have enlisted the support of the Vatican for the proposal, which is being urged in Vatican circles mainly in relation to Article 14 of the Palestine Mandate, which provides for the setting up of the Commission on the Holy Places, which it has never been found possible to constitute owing to the deadlock existing between the Vatican and the British Government in regard to the composition of the Holy Places Commission. It is believed that the Vatican would give its consent to the matter of the Holy Places being dealt with by a Commission composed on the lines suggested.
(The British Government in its correspondence with the Vatican in 1922 on this subject urged that the Commission should be composed of persons of world-wide reputation, to be selected in such a way that the commission would be a thoroughly representative international body, on which none of the Great Powers interested in Palestine and none of the three confessions, namely, Christian, Mohammedan and Jew, would be without representation. His Majesty’s Government would also invite the Council of the League to appoint one of the members of the Commission as its first chairman, by whatever procedure commends itself to the council).
CAN LEAGUE OF NATIONS TAKE AWAY MANDATES?
Italy has been credited for many years with the desire to obtain a transfer of the Syrian Mandate from France to herself in order to use Syria as an outlet for Italian emigrants and enterprise. Rumours of unofficial conversations on the subject were, despite official denials, particularly insistent in 1925 – 26 at the time of the anti-French rising of the Druses in Syria. It was suggested that France might acquiesce in the transfer of the Syrian Mandate to Italy, provided that Italy would reward France by the definite abandonment of Italian aspirations in Tangier and Morocco, and of the Italian claims for special treatment by France of the important Italian Communities in French North Africa. In Italy, Signor Mussolini was stated to have denied the reports by saying that Italy wants no Syrian vase for her drawing-room, while in France several important papers, notably the “Temps” declared that France did not owe Syria to the League of Nations, but had won it by the sword, and would keep it by the sword.
Mr. Amery made an important statement in the House of Commons in 1927, when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, declaring what was the British Government view of this question, whether a Mandate belongs to the League of Nations or to the Mandatory Power, and whether the League of Nations can or cannot take away a Mandate from the Mandatory Power. The matter had arisen over a speech delivered by the Governor of Tanganyika, who had stated that Tanganyika was part of the British Empire and would remain so. A question was put to Mr. Amery in the House of Commons, and Mr. Amery replied that the phrase which had been used by the Governor of Tanganyika was a colloquial summary of the exact position as defined in the preceding part of the Governor’s statement, where “he rightly laid down that Tanganyika was Mandated territory under British control and there was no possibility of its passing from that control”.
Asked if he was aware that Mandates were allotted by the League of Nations, which could also take them away, Mr. Amery replied: “That is precisely not the case. The territories were allotted by the Allied and Associated Powers, and the Mandates are obligations which we have undertaken towards the League of Nations. They are in no sense a form of tenure, which is held by us from the League of Nations, and the League of Nations is not in a position to transfer them or take them away”.
Mrs. Swanwick, the famous pacifist, who represented the British Government at the League of Nations Assembly in the British Government at the League of Nations Assembly in 1929, shortly after the serious disturbances in Palestine in August of that year, rose to declare officially in the name of the British delegation that they wanted to make it clear in view of certain suggestions that Britain should surrender the Palestine Mandate that “the bestowal of the Mandate was vested in the Allied and Associated Powers and the Mandate for Palestine could not therefore be alienated except by agreement between the Allied and Associated Powers.”
Lord Dunedin, sitting in the Privy Council, the highest court of the British Empire, declared at the time that the Urtas appeal was heard, brought by the inhabitants of the Palestine village of Urtas against the Palestine Government, that there had been much talk of civil rights. But he doubted if there were any. By right of conquest, he said, the whole rights the people had ceased. The country was conquered by the Allied Powers, and the Allied Powers had said to the League of Nations (in respect of the institution of the Mandate) “you make this arrangement, but in respect of the rights of the Allied Powers”. The Allies, Lord Dunedin said, were the people from whom the whole thing sprung by right of conquest.