27 AUGUST 1948, Page 5



T0 most British readers of the daily Press it will have come as a painful surprise to learn that the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations has prepared for the coming Assembly a report arraigning the United Kingdom for its administration of the trust territory of Tanganyika, and Australia, the Union of South Africa and Belgium for similar alleged shortcoming. But it comes as no surprise to those who have had practical acquaintance with the handling of colonial matters by the United Nations. I am sorry to say it, but in no field has the United Nations so signally failed to live up to the high hopes reposed in it. The "non-self-governing territories " have been used consistently by the Soviet Union as a stick with which to beat the " Imperial Powers," of whom the chief is, of course, Great Britain. This might not in itself be any more a matter for comment than the Russian attitude on atomic energy or human rights ; but, for a variety of reasons, as an American statesman once remarked to me, wisely but sadly, "This is the one issue on which these fellows see a chance of beating the Western Powers."

Such possibilities were not entirely unforeseen, and this is no doubt the reason why the chapters of the United Nations Charter dealing with "non-self-governing territories" and the trusteeship system were absent from the original Dumbarton Oaks draft. Mr. Churchill is recorded by Mr. Byrnes as saying at Yalta—and the language certainly has an authentic ring:

" I will not have one scrap of British territory flung into that area. After we have done our best to fight in this war and have done no crime to anyone I will have no suggestion that the British Empire is to be put in the dock and examined by everybody to see whether it is up to their standard. No one will induce me as long as I am Prime Minister to let any representative of Great Britain go to a conference where we will be placed in the dock and asked to justify our right to live in a world we have tried to save." Nevertheless the pressure of world opinion was such that Chapter XI (" Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories ") and Chapter XII (" The International Trusteeship System ") were written into the Charter of the United Nations signed at San Francisco on June 26th, 1945.

The first of these chapters is, as its name implies, a "declaration" _ by the " members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government." It is a " declaration" that they " recognise the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount." There follows a recital of the principles which the responsible Powers undertake to follow in their dealings with non-self-governing territories. If there are obligations, they are obligations to the inhabitants of those territories, not to the United Nations. Only one obligation is under- taken in this chapter to the United Nations, and its carefully limited terms deserve to be closely read:

" To transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social and educational condi- tions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible other than those territories to which Chapters XII and XIII apply." (These last territories are the trust territories.) In this under- taking it should be noted that the material supplied is to be " for information purposes " ; it is not for the purpose of putting the responsible Powers " in the dock." The material is to be "informa- tion of a technical nature," and it is confined to "economic, social and educational conditions " ; in other words, there is no under- taking to supply political information. Lastly there is the general limitation on " security and constitutional" grounds.

Certain members, among whom the Soviet group has been most * Mr. Ivor Thomas was Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies in 1946-49, and as such concerned in presenting to the United Nations the trusteeship agreements regarding territories for which Great Britain is responsible. prominent, have done their utmost to twist this carefully defined undertaking into a pledge to submit all the affairs of non-self- governing territories to scrutiny by the United Nations. The line of attack has been twofold, (a) to make the responsible Powers include political information, and (b) to " classify," " analyse " and everitually pass judgement on this information. The most regrettable feature of this business is that these members have been aided and abetted by the Secretariat in its anxiety to enlarge its own authority. With such notable exceptions as Mr. Ralph Bunche on the trustee- ship side, the Secretariat has neither the experience nor the qualities to fit it for the task. Many people used to argue in the days of the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League that it would be a good thing to submit the administration of all colonies for examina- tion ; no one who has seen the United Nations at work could possibly believe that in present circumstances this would be in the interest of the inhabitants.

If the Soviet group and the Secretariat could have their way, all colonies would in effect become trust territories ; as things stand these are limited to such territories in three defined classes as have been placed voluntarily under trusteeship by the responsible Powers, and for which a trusteeship agreement has been approved by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly. The territories so far placed under the system are the former mandated territories, except that Palestine has been dealt with differently, and the Union of South Africa has declined to put South-West Africa under trustee- ship ; the Union has not, however, escaped public castigation, as it presented a voluntary report on which criticism could be focussed.

It fell to me to present to the General Assembly on behalf of the United Kingdom trusteeship agreements for Tanganyika and the sections of Togoland and the Cameroons under British adminis- tration ; at the same time Australia, New Zealand, France and Belgium presented agreements for the territories with which they were concerned. The debates were long and often bitter. They lasted for two months, often well into the night, sometimes on Saturday evening, and even all through Sunday. The Soviet group seized every opportunity of besmirching the British Empire, weaken- ing the position of the trust territories, and embarrassing their administration.

This would not in itself be surprising, but on this issue the Russians were able to find unexpected allies. The two most powerful voting groups in the United Nations are the Latin-American and Arab blocs. In both cases, having attained their own self-government after a period of -tutelage, in the one case more than a century ago, in the other case recently, they almost always felt obliged to vote for the completest independence of the trust territories, without critical examination of the consequences ; and without casting a backward eye, it may be added, at conditions in their own countries, especially at the large American Indian populations in some of the Latin American States. It should, however, be added that one Latin American representative, Dr. MacEachen, the Uruguayan Ambas- sador in London, has rendered signal service to the handling of these questions by the United Nations.

In view of the fact that India at that time had still not attained independence, and that there were substantial Indian populations in East Africa, it was inevitable that India should be one of the strongest critics of British administration. At that time the United States was also rife with criticism of colonial administration— though it may be added that there is something to be said for immediate independence if we could secure such terms as the United States obtained from Cuba and the Philippine Republic. But I saw the American attitude changing considerably in these long debates, when the hollowness of the Soviet " anti-imperialism " stood exposed, and on many essential matters the United States was extremely helpful.

In particular, Mr. Foster Dulles found a way of getting round the requirement that " the terms of trusteeship . . . shall be agreed upon by the States directly concerned." The Charter gives no

Indication as to what States directly concerned are, and there are half-a-dozen plausible interpretations. Neighbouring States naturally interpret it to mean geographical contiguity ; others take it to mean ties of blood and race, others as covering a strategic interest ; the United States took it to mean the Principal Allied and Associated Powers who bestowed the mandates in 1919, while the Soviet Union naturally wished to see it include the Five Great Powers of today. It is almost incredible that so loose a phrase should have been used in the Charter without definition. On the suggestion of Mr.

Foster Dulles we eventually voted by a majority, without prejudice to what the phrase might mean, to approve the agreements without asking in this case who were the States directly concerned and whether their agreement had been obtained. This was the ostensible reason why the Soviet Union treated the agreements as invalid, and refused for some time to take its seat at the Trusteeship Council. We were able to get the agreements approved because the other critics preferred to have the trusteeship system, even with what they considered blemishes, rather than have no trusteeship system ; and in the end the trusteeship agreements in the form we desired were carried over Soviet protests by overwhelming majorities.

One of the points to which the Russians took, and still apparently take, exception was the right of the administering authority " to constitute Tanganyika into a customs, fiscal or administrative union or federation with adjacent territories under his sovereignty or control, and to establish common services between such territories and Tanganyika where such measures are not inconsistent with the basic objectives of the international trusteeship system and with the terms of this Agreement." This clause was drafted in the light of the proposals in Colonial Paper 191 ; and the arrangements in Colonial Paper 210, to which effect has now been given, were drawn up in the light of the United Nations' approval of this clause. The inter-territorial organisation between Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika is therefore entirely within the ambit of arrangeinents approved by the United Nations. An undertaking was given that the union would not be such as to extinguish the political identity of the trust territory, and the arrangements do, in fact, preserve that political identity.

Similar objection was taken by the Russians to provisions that British Togoland and British Cameroons may be administered ".as an integral part" of the adjoining British territories—as they have been since the mandate was accepted. But the strongest criticism was reserved by the Russians for the provision that the administering authority "shall be entitled to establish naval, military and air bases, to erect fortifications, to station and employ his own forces in Tanganyika and to take all such other measures as are in his opinion necessary for the defence of Tanganyika and for ensuring that the territory plays its part in the maintenance of international peace and security." with corresponding provisions for British Togoland and British Cameroons. Over this issue they showed clearly that their aim was to keep the British Empire as weak as possible.

When the trusteeship agreements were brought to the General Assembly for final approval, the Russians took the line that they were invalid, and when the Trusteeship Council was constituted declined at first to take their seat. Under the Charter the Trustee- ship Council must include the Five Great Powers, and there must be equal numbers of members administering and members not administering trust territories. Owing to the absence of the Soviet Union, and the fact that other major critics were not members, we made excellent progress at the first meeting of the Trusteeship Council. It may not be a high claim, but we drew up the best rules of procedure of any of the United Nations bodies, and got more sense than at one time seemed likely into the questionnaire required to be addressed to the administering authorities.

But then the Trusteeship Council was given the task of drawing up a statute for Jerusalem. Russia thought this too good an oppor- tunity of mischief-making to miss, forgot her charges of invalidity, and took her seat. Since that date she has soured the whole work of the Council ; and now, instead of being an outside guarantor of the good faith of the administering Powers, it has degenerated into an instrument of Soviet power-politics. In such circumstances it must be regarded as one of the United Nations' failures.