Editorial Note

From 1946 on, United States policy regarding dependent territories was formulated within the context of the Charter of the United Nations, the relevant sections of the Charter being Chapter XI (Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories: Articles 73 and 74), Chapter XII (International Trusteeship System: Articles 75–85), and Chapter XIII (The Trusteeship Council: Articles 86–91). With specific reference to non-self-governing territories outside the trusteeship system, the relevant chapter was Chapter XI, and within Chapter XI the governing article was Article 73. Broadly speaking, this had to do with the transmission of information regarding the non-self-governing territories by the administering power to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. In 1946 important questions of interpretation immediately arose as to what type of information should be transmitted and what should be done with it by the United Nations once it was received. Of basic importance also were questions regarding interpretation of Article 77 in Chapter XII; for example, did this article hold a mandate for the assimilation of non-self-governing territories in general to the trusteeship system? Out of the controversy engendered at the United Nations by these issues emerged the groupings of states that came to be known as the “colonial” and the “anti-colonial” powers.

United States consideration of the problems of non-self-governing territories in 1946 was, at the outset, intimately connected with discussions relating to the establishment of an international trusteeship system, and the setting was the first meeting of the General Assembly at London in January–February 1946. Thereafter, with the trust territories set up, the two matters tended to become separated, and questions relating to non-self-governing territories outside the trusteeship system received special consideration for their own sake. This situation was reflected in the organization of the Fourth Committee (Trusteeship Committee) at the New York meeting of the General [Page 280] Assembly in October–December 1946, when two subcommittees were established—one to handle matters relating to Trust Territories, the other to entertain questions relating to all other dependent territories. The principal issue at New York on the non-self-governing territories outside the trusteeship system is described in some detail in the document that follows.