Draft of Position Paper From Background Book for Colonial Policy Discussions
Item III, B, 1—The Relative Functions of the United Nations and the Administering Authorities, and the Tendency of the United Nations To Concern Itself With Administration, as Well as With Supervision of the Trust Territories
The United Nations Charter does not make clear the distinction between the terms “administration” and “supervision”. Spokesmen for the British, French, and Belgian Governments have repeatedly expressed in UN bodies the view that the functions of the United Nations in relation to Trust Territories are strictly limited to supervision [Page 461] and that administration is the exclusive responsibility of the Administering Authorities. This division of responsibility has its legal basis, they point out, in the individual trusteeship agreements. The Charter, in Article 81, states that “the trusteeship agreement shall in each case include the terms under which the Trust Territory will be administered and designate the authority which will exercise administration of the Trust Territory”; while Article 85 states that: “(1) the functions of the United Nations with regard to trusteeship agreements for all areas not designated as strategic, including the approval of the terms of the trusteeship agreements and of their alteration or amendment, shall be exercised by the General Assembly; and (2) the Trusteeship Council, operating under the authority of the General Assembly, shall assist the General Assembly in carrying out these functions.”
The key to Article 85, according to these nations, is the fact that it refers to “The functions of the United Nations with regard to trusteeship agreements”, not “with regard to trusteeship”. In other words, the individual agreement is the basic document establishing the relationship between the United Nations and the Administering Authority. In a typical agreement (for Togoland under British Administration) it is stated (Article 5) that “The Administering Authority shall have full powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction in the Territory”. In addition, (Article 3) “the Administering Authority undertakes to administer the Territory in such a manner as to achieve the basic objectives of the International Trusteeship System laid down in Article 76 of the United Nations Charter” and “to collaborate fully with the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Trusteeship Council in the discharge of all their functions as defined in Article 87 of the United Nations Charter”.
These functions are clearly stated in Article 87 to be: (a) considering reports submitted by the administering authority, (b) accepting and examining petitions in consultation with the administering authority, (c) providing for periodic visits to the Trust Territories at times agreed upon with the administering authority, and (d) taking “these and other actions in conformity with the terms of the trusteeship agreements”. Again the individual agreement appears as the basic authority.
In order to see how the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium have interpreted their relation to the United Nations as Administering Authorities, it is necessary to refer to debates in United Nations bodies in which spokesmen for these nations defined their government’s position.[Page 462]
[Here follows exposition of public statements by delegates of the three named states.]
recommended united states position
- The United States participants should utilize, as may be
appropriate, the following interpretation of the provisions of
the Charter bearing upon the respective functions of the United
Nations and the Administering Authorities:
- Article 75 of the Charter states that “the United Nations shall establish under its authority an international trusteeship system for the administration and supervision of such territories as may be placed thereunder by subsequent individual agreements.” Since the function of administration is in each of the existing Trusteeship Agreements assigned to the Administering Authority, it seems clear that the role of the United Nations is that of supervision. In this connection it may be noted that the functions of the UN “with regard to trusteeship agreements” are stated in Article 85, and the only ones expressly named are “the approval of the terms of the trusteeship agreements and of their alteration or amendment”. The functions and powers of the Trusteeship Council are described in Articles 87 and 88 which provide for the machinery of supervision, including the questionnaire, the annual reports, petitions and visiting missions, The Assembly and the Council are empowered to “take these and other actions in conformity with the terms of the trusteeship agreements.” Neither the Charter nor the Trusteeship Agreements confer powers of administration upon the General Assembly or the Trusteeship Council. On the contrary, the Trusteeship Agreements make clear that it is the Administering Authorities which are assigned powers of administration.
- The United States participants should point out that the principal problem is how the supervisory functions of the General Assembly and the Trusteeship Council with respect to trust territories should be interpreted.
- The United States participants should state that, in
determining whether a given proposal is properly within the
supervisory powers of the General Assembly or the Trusteeship
Council, the United States is guided by the following
- The primary responsibility of the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly is to review the actions taken by the Administering Authorities in giving effect to the obligations assumed by them and to make appropriate observations or recommendations as a result of this review.
- However, the United States cannot agree that the supervisory functions of the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly [Page 463] necessarily preclude their expressing their views regarding proposed policies or programs of the Administering Authorities.
- The United States agrees that there is no obligation to consult or inform the Trusteeship Council in advance on contemplated action, but as a matter of wise judgment there might be certain important cases, such as the grant of a monopoly or long-term concession involving a substantial proportion of the economic life of a trust territory, where such consultation would be advisable.
- Even when the advice of the Trusteeship Council or the General Assembly might exceed, strictly speaking, the supervisory functions of the United Nations, the United States believes that it may sometimes be in the interests of the trusteeship system for an Administering Authority to welcome the advice of the Council. The establishing or extension of the scope of an administrative union is a case in point.