The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946

By F. S. Northedge | Go to book overview

9 The mandates system

I

We have seen in an earlier chapter how in 1919 Germany's former colonies in Africa and the Pacific and Turkey's Arab-populated territories in the Middle East came before the peace conference to have their future determined, and how the Allies adopted Smuts' idea (though he himself applied it to the successor states of Central and East Europe) of regarding them as temporary wards of the 'advanced' nations until they were able, in the words of what became Article 22 of the Covenant, 'to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world'. 1 The notion of wardship or guardianship had a respectable ancestry in British colonial administration, reaching back to Edmund Burke's principle of colonies being a 'sacred trust' of civilisation, as expounded, for instance, in his famous indictment of Warren Hastings on 15 February 1788. 2 In 1885 a conference on the Congo in Berlin had adopted an Act aimed at extending 'the benefits of civilisation' to the natives, the promotion of trade and navigation on the basis of equality for all nations, and the preservation of the territory from war. Seven years later another conference in Brussels on Central Africa sought to control the import of arms and alcohol, though without providing sanctions. The Berlin and Brussels agreements were abrogated by the Allied Powers in the convention of St Germain, concluded in 1919, which committed the signatories to maintain in their African territories an authority and police force sufficient to protect lives and property and freedom of trade and transit, and to watch over the native population and supervise the improvement of their moral and material well-being.

Thus, by 1919 the idea that the welfare of 'lesser breeds without

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The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920-1946
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vi
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The World before the League 1
  • 2 - Framing the Covenant 25
  • 3 - The Covenant Reviewed 46
  • 4 - Beginnings and Setbacks 70
  • 5 - The System Takes Shape 98
  • 6 - The Lure of Disarmament 113
  • 7 - Manchuria: the Covenant Defied 137
  • 8 - The Betterment of Life 165
  • 9 - The Mandates System 192
  • 10 - The Abyssinian Disaster 221
  • 11 - The Final Years 255
  • 12 - Was Failure Inevitable? 278
  • Abbreviations 293
  • Notes 294
  • Bibliography 311
  • Appendix A 317
  • Appendix B 328
  • Appendix C 329
  • Index 330
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