Paris Peace Conf. 181.91/49

Instructions for Commissioners From the Peace Conference


Future Administration of Certain Portions of the Turkish Empire Under the Mandatory System

Instructions for Commissioners from the Peace Conference to make enquiries in certain portions of the Turkish Empire which are to be permanently separated from Turkey and put under the guidance of Governments acting as Mandatories for the League of Nations.1

(Agreed to by President Wilson, Mr. Lloyd George, M. Clemenceau, and M. Orlando.)

It is the purpose of the Conference to separate from the Turkish Empire certain areas comprising, for example, Palestine, Syria, the Arab countries to the east of Palestine and Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Cilicia, and perhaps additional areas in Asia Minor, and to put the development of their people under the guidance of Governments which are to act as Mandatories of the League of Nations. It is expected that this will be done in accordance with the following resolutions adopted by the Representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan at a Conference held at the Quai d’Orsay on January 30, 1919.2

  • “1. Having regard to the record of the German administration in the colonies formerly part of the German Empire, and to the menace which the possession by Germany of submarine bases in many parts of the world would necessarily constitute to the freedom and security of all nations, the Allied and Associated Powers are agreed that in no circumstances should any of the German Colonies be restored to Germany.
  • “2. For similar reasons, and more particularly because of the historical mis-government by the Turks of subject peoples and the terrible massacres of Armenians and others in recent years, the Allied [Page 746]and Associated Powers are agreed that Armenia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Arabia must be completely severed from the Turkish Empire. This is without prejudice to the settlement of other parts of the Turkish Empire.
  • “3. The Allied and Associated Powers are agreed that advantage should be taken of the opportunity afforded by the necessity of disposing of these colonies and territories formerly belonging to Germany and Turkey which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, to apply to these territories the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in the constitution of the League of Nations.
  • “4. After careful study they are satisfied that the best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who, by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical positions, can best undertake this responsibility, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as mandatories on behalf of the League of Nations.
  • “5. The Allied and Associated Powers are of opinion that the character of the mandate must differ according to the stage of development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its economic conditions, and other similar circumstances.
  • “6. They consider that certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory power until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the mandatory power.
  • “7. They further consider that other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are at such a stage that the mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory subject to conditions which will guarantee the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the military training of the natives for other than police purposes, and the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other members of the League of Nations.
  • “8. Finally, they consider that there are territories, such as South-West Africa and certain of the Islands in the South Pacific, which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the mandatory state, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the mandatory state as integral portions thereof, subject to the safeguards above-mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population.
  • “In every case of mandate, the mandatory state shall render to the League of Nations an annual report in reference to the territory committed to its charge”.

And it is agreed that the administration of these mandates shall be in the spirit of the following document which was formally [Page 747]presented to the President of the United States on behalf of the Governments of Great Britain and France:

Anglo-French Declaration, November 9, 1918

“The aim which France and Great Britain have in view in prosecuting in the East the war let loose by German ambition is the complete and final liberation of the peoples so long oppressed by the Turks and the establishment of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the initiative and free choice of the native populations.

“In order to give effect to these intentions, France and Great Britain have agreed to encourage and assist the establishment of native governments and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia already liberated by the Allies, and in the territories which they are proceeding to liberate, and they have agreed to recognise such governments as soon as they are effectively established. So far from desiring to impose specific institutions upon the populations of these regions, their sole object is to ensure, by their support and effective assistance, that the governments and administrations adopted by these regions of their own free will shall be exercised in the normal way. The function which the two Allied Governments claim for themselves in the liberated territories is to ensure impartial and equal justice for all; to facilitate the economic development of the country by encouraging local initiative; to promote the diffusion of education; and to put an end to the divisions too long exploited by Turkish policy”.

The Conference therefore feels obliged to acquaint itself as intimately as possible with the sentiments of the people of these regions with regard to the future administration of their affairs. You are requested, accordingly, to visit these regions to acquaint yourselves as fully as possible with the state of opinion there with regard to these matters, with the social, racial, and economic conditions, a knowledge of which might serve to guide the judgment of the Conference, and to form as definite an opinion as the circumstances and the time at your disposal will permit, of the divisions of territory and assignment of mandates which will be most likely to promote the order, peace, and development of those peoples and countries.

  1. For President Wilson’s proposal to appoint an Interallied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, and discussion of the proposal in the Council of Four, see IC–163A, March 20, 1919, vol. v, pp. 1 ff.
  2. See BC–17 and BC–18, vol. iii, pp. 785 ff. and 797 ff. For amendment of resolution 7 before adoption, see ibid., p. 803.