U.S. Draft of a Declaration by the United Nations on National Independence
Document No. 44
In the Declaration signed on January 1, 1942,11b the United Nations pledged themselves to a complete victory in this war for the preservation of liberty, independence, human rights and justice. They also proclaimed their resolve to attain, for themselves and for the human race as a whole, the objectives stated in the Joint Declaration of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill dated August 14, 1941, known—from the region in which it was formulated—as the Atlantic Charter.11c That Charter sets forth certain fundamental principles and purposes, applicable to all nations and to all peoples, among which are the following:
Respect for the rights of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live;
Restoration of sovereign rights and self-government to those who have been forcibly deprived of them; and
Establishment of a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.
By their adoption of the Atlantic Charter as an integral part of the Declaration of January 1, 1942, the 31 United Nations have thus affirmed their determination that the independence of those nations which now possess independence shall be maintained; that the independence of those nations which have been forcibly deprived of independence shall be restored; that opportunity to achieve independence for those peoples who aspire to independence shall be preserved, respected, and made more effective; and that, in general, resolute efforts will be made to create a system of world security which will provide for all nations and all peoples greater assurance of stable peace and greater facilities for material advancement.
The carrying out of these pledges imposes important responsibilities upon those peoples who possess or who are seeking to regain independence and upon all peoples who aspire to independent status. The particular pledge that peoples who aspire to independence shall be given an opportunity to acquire independent status is, therefore, in varying degrees, of concern to all of the United Nations and to all nations and peoples which now, or which may hereafter, cooperate in carrying forward and applying the provisions of the Atlantic Charter. [Page 748] The effectuation of that pledge requires that all such nations and peoples collaborate to that end with each other to the fullest practicable extent. Accordingly, the United Nations hereby make the following Declaration:
- It is the duty and the purpose of those of the United Nations
which have, owing to past events, become charged with
responsibilities for the future of colonial areas to cooperate
fully with the peoples of such areas toward their becoming
qualified for independent national status. While some colonial
peoples are far advanced along this road, the development and
resources of others are not yet such as to enable them to assume
and discharge the responsibilities of government without danger
to themselves and to others. It is, accordingly, the duty and
the purpose of each nation having political ties with colonial
- To give its colonial peoples protection, encouragement, moral support and material aid and to make continuous efforts toward their political, economic, social, and educational advancement;
- To make available to qualified persons among the colonial peoples to the fullest possible extent positions in the various branches of the local governmental organization;
- To grant progressively to the colonial peoples such measures of self-government as they are capable of maintaining in the light of the various stages of their development toward independence;
- To fix, at the earliest practicable moments, dates upon which the colonial peoples shall be accorded the status of full independence within a system of general security; and
- To pursue policies under which the natural resources of colonial territories shall be developed, organized and marketed in the interest of the peoples concerned and of the world as a whole.
- It is incumbent upon all peoples that aspire to independence to exert themselves in every feasible way to prepare and equip themselves for independence—socially, economically, and politically—to the end that they may, as soon as possible, be able to create, conduct and maintain, for, by and of themselves, efficient structures of stable self-government based on sound principles of social and political morality. In the present moment of world emergency, the capacity and desire of such peoples for the enjoyment of freedom can best be demonstrated by their contribution now toward the defeat of the Axis foes of all freedom and independence.
- The carrying out of the policies above declared will necessarily call for much and continuous consultation and collaboration between and among the nations which are directly responsible for the future of various colonial areas and other nations which have substantial interests in the regions in which such areas are located. In order to provide an effective medium for such consultation and collaboration, [Page 749] there shall be created in each region, by agreement of the nations thus concerned, a commission on which each of those nations shall be represented and in the work of which the various colonial peoples concerned shall have appropriate opportunity to participate and to have or to achieve representation.
- As a result of the last war, peoples in several areas still unprepared for full independence were released from political ties with nations formerly responsible for them. Other peoples in like status may be similarly released from their former political ties as a result of this war. It is the purpose of the United Nations to assume with respect to all such peoples a special responsibility, analogous to that of a trustee or fiduciary. The United Nations hereby recognize it as their duty to give the fullest cooperation to such peoples in their efforts to prepare themselves for independence through political, economic, social, and moral advancement—and eventually to arrange for their assumption of independent status. To this end, they recognize it as their duty to observe in the case of such peoples each of the policies, obligations and methods hereinbefore set forth for observance by independent countries toward their own colonial peoples.
- In order to carry out effectively the purposes and functions described in the preceding paragraph, the United Nations propose to establish, as soon as circumstances permit, an International Trusteeship Administration composed of representatives of the United Nations and of all other nations which now, or which may hereafter, cooperate in carrying forward and applying the provisions of the Atlantic Charter. The Administration will operate through regional councils composed of representatives of the nations having major interests in the respective regions. The machinery of each council will be so designed as to give the peoples of the territories held in trust in its region full opportunity to be associated with its work.