867N.00/523: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

246. Department’s telegram 120, July 21, 8 p.m.

Although juridically the Council is the competent body, for deciding questions relating to mandates, the Assembly in past years has consistently maintained that the functioning of the mandates system is a matter of interest to all League members. Each year a resolution usually introduced by Norway was passed placing mandates on the Assembly’s agenda and extensive general discussions thereon have taken place in the Sixth Committee. Matters relative to Palestine have already frequently formed a subject of discussion particularly on the part of the Polish and Iraq representatives. Secretariat officials are convinced that under the present circumstances an extensive discussion on Palestine will take place in the forthcoming Assembly. Although it may be held that such discussion, or resolution if any, would have no juridical force, nevertheless, it would serve to inform the Council of the sentiments prevailing in the Assembly and would undoubtedly influence Council action.
The questions of what constitutes a petition is a matter of inter? pretation in the light of established rules and practice. Secretariat officials are of the opinion that the protests thus far received are not, at least in most cases, petitions in the technical sense. Should any be decided to constitute petitions they will be communicated verbatim to the members of the Mandates Commission and the latter will decide whether they warrant formal consideration. In the case of mere protests it is customary for the Secretariat to make summaries thereof and communicate them to members of the Commission. Full texts are then made available if requested. Thus in the case either of petitions or of protests the Commission is informed and is in a position to decide whether such documents demand or justify consideration as pertinent to the matter in hand.
With Iraq and the contemplated procedure as regards Syria as precedents, it is considered that the conversion of a mandated territory into an independent state is predicated on its becoming a member of the League of Nations and likewise in the present case it is presumed that in addition the states concerned would be required to give certain guarantees particularly as regards minorities. Acceptance of League membership and corollary obligations implies agreement between the states concerned and the Council. It is, therefore, suggested that unilateral action on the part of the Council would presumably not be sufficient to carry out the proposals of the Royal Commission. Should [Page 898] opposition in Palestine prove to be widespread and vehement, particularly if encouraged by the opposition of a group of League states, the Council might be obliged to seek some other alternative, or to continue for an indefinite period the mandatory régime.